The story excerpt and photo captions below were translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit Le Monde Diplomatique. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.
In the Aiha village of the Kalapalo people, located in the Xingu Indigenous Territory, late afternoons are marked by men gathering in the center of the village to talk. The village is formed by a large circle made up of thirty communal houses, built in an oval shape and covered with thatch. In the center is the "casa das flautas," the place where, after a long day of fishing or working in the cassava fields, these daily meetings are spent chatting, laughing, or even debating and making community decisions.
It was in this dynamic, amidst this dusk in the Xingu, in February 2020, that the first news that the novel coronavirus (SARS‑CoV‑2) was already in Brazil reached the region's villages, located in northeastern Mato Grosso. The first cases of COVID-19 were distant, concentrated in São Paulo, more than 1,600 km away. But the fear of the possible devastation the virus could cause was already widespread.