Last Juma tribe survivor dies of COVID-19 allegedly spread by loggers

The last surviving Juma tribe man has died from COVID-19. 

  • Aruká Juma, the last survivor of the Juma tribe, died of coronavirus.
  • The virus is believed to have spread via loggers, miners, and landgrabers, leaving the native population vulnerable.
  • Activists blame the Brazilian government for the COVID-19 “genocide” of the tribes.
Credits: Comunica Kaninde

Aruká Juma was the last surviving man of the Juma tribe in Brazil. Sadly, he lost his life to coronavirus. As UNILAD reports, the virus was allegedly spread by invading loggers, miners, and landgrabbers.

Aruká passed away on February 17, after being hospitalized in Pôrto Velho, Rondônia. Although his exact age is not clear, he was believed to have been somewhere between 86 and 90 years old.

The fate of the Amazon tribe has also been quite unfortunate. From an estimated 15,000 in the 18th century, there were not more than 100 members in 1943. The Juma population declined so dramatically due to disease and massacres by rubber tappers, loggers, and miners.

In 1964, another massacre left only six survivors. Aruká was one of them. Then, in 1999, his brother passed away, leaving him the only known surviving Juma member.

Puré Juma Uru Eu Wau Wau, Aruká’s grandson, confirmed that his grandfather lost his life to COVID-19, as The New York Times reveals.

According to local activists, the Brazilian government is to blame for the “genocide.”

Campaigners claim that coronavirus threatens to “wipe out” uncontacted and isolated Amazon tribes. They insist that invading loggers, miners, and landgrabbers are spreading the virus to the rainforest’s native community.

Credits: Comunica Kaninde

Sarah Shenker, from tribe conservation charity Survival International, told The Sun:

“Where invaders are present, coronavirus could wipe out whole peoples. It’s a matter of life and death. If their lands are properly protected from outsiders, uncontacted tribes — those who avoid contact with mainstream society — should be relatively safe from the coronavirus pandemic. But many of their territories are being invaded and stolen for logging, mining, and agribusiness, with the encouragement of President Bolsonaro, who has virtually declared war on Brazil’s indigenous peoples.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 1,000 tribe members have reportedly died of the virus.

The Coordinating Body for Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (APIB) claims that the death rate among the tribes is 58% higher than the general population. Meanwhile, the infection rate is 68% higher, meaning that the tribe members are more vulnerable when exposed to COVID-19.

In a 2016 interview, Aruká himself reflected on his tribe’s unfortunate history. He said:

“These days, I feel alone and think a lot about back when there were many of us. We were many before the rubber tappers and the prospectors came to kill all the Juma people. Back then, the Juma were happy. Now there is only me.”

Credits: Reuters

Tragically, with Aruká’s death, much of the culture of the Juma tribe is lost, since he was not only the last survivor but also the only fluent speaker of the tribe’s language.

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