Covid-19 deaths hit traditional escaped slave communities

Covid-19 deaths hit traditional escaped slave communities
Photo: Thiago Gomes/Ag.Pará

An average of 1.5 people are dying every day from Covid-19 in Brazil’s quilombos — the poor rural settlements dotted across the country, many of them descended from escaped slave groups in the 1800s. According to a survey by the National Coordination for Articulation of Black Rural Quilombola Communities (Conaq), some 188 quilombo residents have died as a result of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, among them many community leaders.

According to an article by Agência Pública, the most severe situations are found in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Pará, where 36 and 33 quilombolas have died, respectively.

In a situation analogous to that of Brazil’s indigenous communities, quilombos are often poor settlements with scarce access to health or sanitation infrastructure. According to Conaq founding member Givânia Silva, “these are problems that, in ‘normal’ times, communities have to live with this lack of [public] policy. But at a time like this (…) these public policies are even more sorely missed and leave these populations much more vulnerable.”