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One of Brazil’s leading indigenous leaders, Chief Aritana Yawalapiti, leader of the Upper Xingu, died on Wednesday of Covid-19, his nephew Kaiulu Yawalapiti told CNN. 

“My heart is in pieces, bleeding,” Kaiulu Yawalapiti said. 

Aritana was admitted to an intensive care unit on July 22 after suffering from severe breathing problems. He was 71. 

Aritana was one of the most prominent leaders in the Xingu park, the first indigenous territory to be recognized by the Brazilian government in 1968. He fought for the safety and health of the Upper Xingu for many years. 

“He could no longer breathe on his own, his lungs were severely damaged so we had to transfer him to a hospital,” his son, Tapi Yawalapiti, told CNN when he was admitted to the ICU on July 22. 

Yawalapiti told CNN then that the Upper Xingu lacked medical supplies, testing kits and medical assistance to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Covid-19 spreads very fast, the whole community is sick, children, the young, the elderly. We are being neglected by the Brazilian government, they are not helping us enough and it seems that they want to decimate us,” Yawalapiti told CNN on July 22. 

The Xingu reservation park is located at the northeast of the state of Mato Grosso, southern portion of the Brazilian Amazon.  

Latest figures: On Wednesday, Brazil’s Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI) reported 139 indigenous people infected with coronavirus, nine people have died and 138 people have been treated for “suspected Covid-19.”

But the Association of Indigenous people (APIB), an independent organization in Brazil, has reported that 21,571 indigenous people have been infected with the virus and 618 people have died since the pandemic started in the country, according to data released on August 1. 

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