August 26, 2020
Ceará Association FEPOINCE - Tremembé and Suruí Peoples (Brazil)
The Indigenous Peoples of Ceará in the northeast region of Brazil are some of the communities most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The seriousness of the situation led to an almost complete exhaustion of ICU beds and the need for a long period of rigid social isolation in all municipalities. Indigenous Peoples are among the most affected due to their way of life and a lack of access to healthcare. Ceará is also one of the poorest states of the country. The Tremembé de Itarema People have been gravely impacted and remain extremely vulnerable. The non-demarcation of their territories, the territorial invasion and the movement of non-Indigenous people to access their natural resources have contributed to the food and nutritional insecurity of the community. Ceará has 15 Indigenous Peoples distributed in 19 municipalities with a population of approximately 35,000. Out of the 26 demands in the land demarcation system of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), only one Indigenous Territory is homologated in Ceará.
With a KOEF emergency grant, FEPOINCE is serving the Tremembé people of Itarema to ensure that they can survive with dignity during this period of the pandemic, distributing baskets of basic supplies and food to over 100 families in need. FEPOINCE is implementing public policies to prevent and combat COVID19 in order to ensure food security of the Tremembé people of Itarema (Stream of João Pereira). FEPOINCE together with other organizations launched a solidarity campaign that organized food baskets, masks, hand sanitizers and personal hygiene materials.
FEPOINCE states, “Cultural Survival’s support was essential in a period of great difficulty faced by the Tremembé People of Itarema.” In regard to the KOEF emergency grant received, Gutemberg Tremembé, president of the Tremembé People Association of the Córrego João Pereira said: “I want to thank in my name, Gutemberg president of the Tremembé córrego João Pereira association and on behalf of all the partners, the great support of the cultural entity survival to our community in this very difficult time, it is with great joy that we express our satisfaction of having them as supporters, thank you very much. ” Another Tremembé leader, Itamar Tremembé stated “I come here to thank the Cultural Survival organization for the help given to us. It was very important considering the moment that we are going through. We sincerely thank everyone who contributed.”
In addition to the issue of food and nutritional insecurity and the inadequacy of health care provided by the Brazilian State for these peoples, there was a worsening in the mental health situation of the Tremembé leaders, including a case of suicide. For this reason, FEPOINCE held a meeting with the Public Ministry of the State of Ceará to discuss the topic and has started collaborating with Life Support Program of the Walter Cantídio Hospital of the Federal University of Ceará, which acts in the prevention of suicide to assist Indigenous leaders with mental health concerns and to prevent suicide.