Amazon Tribes Say Christian Missionaries Threaten ‘Genocide’ During Pandemic


April 21, 2020

By Travis Waldron

Indigenous Brazilians are demanding a missionary group based in Florida with deep ties to far-right President Jair Bolsonaro stay off their lands.

The novel coronavirus outbreak has intensified a decadeslong battle between indigenous tribes and evangelical Christian missionaries in the most remote regions of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, as tribes warning of the virus’s potential to cause their “genocide” have pushed to ban controversial religious groups from entering their lands.

On Thursday, a Brazilian judge granted the tribes’ wishes, barring missionaries from entering the Javari Valley, a remote region along Brazil’s border with Peru that is home to numerous indigenous tribes and at least 16 groups of isolated peoples ― those who have no known contact with outside communities.

The ruling specifically named three missionaries, as well as New Tribes Mission of Brazil, a 67-year-old fundamentalist Christian organization that is affiliated with a larger evangelical missionary group in the United States. New Tribes also has deep ties to the right-wing government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who in February tapped Ricardo Lopes Dias, a former New Tribes missionary, to head the agency that is supposed to protect Brazil’s isolated peoples.

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