On 18 June, 99 days after the declaration of national emergency, President Martin Vizcarra responded to pressure from indigenous leaders to disburse funds allocated to the Ministry of Health’s emergency intervention plan for indigenous communities and rural population centres. The plan was drawn up on 21 May. Meanwhile the situation on the ground in Ucayali, Amazonas and Loreto goes from bad to worse.
Aidesep had accused the Ministry of Economy and Finance of delaying the disbursal of emergency funds, amounting to 88 million soles, to be distributed at regional level in consultation with indigenous Covid Commands. The first of these operational centres was set up in Iquitos on 8 June.
For its part, the Ministry of Culture announced the formation of a multi-sectoral commission with the essentially bureaucratic task of monitoring implementation and drafting monthly reports. Supposedly responsible for indigenous affairs, the ministry’s initial response to the crisis was widely discredited, leading to the change of minister.
Patience is running thin in the communities. The Awajún leader of the River Corrientes (a member of the Covid Command) commented: “we cannot continue from meeting to meeting without concrete objectives, with actions and dates for their achievement… The Covid Command was created to put government tasks into operation”.
Exasperated by the official response, the mayor of Condorcanqui has appealed to the Awajún of Loreto, Amazonas, San Martin and Cajamarca for autonomous protocols for frontier controls, quarantine, treatment of the sick, and stocks of medicine.
In a virtual meeting the president of the Federation of Kukama-Kukamiria women of the Marañon challenged the minister of health, “It’s been three months and what have you done? Nothing! I am only here today because I cured myself with my own plant remedies. Your hospital (in Iquitos) did not have any medicine”.