17 Jul 2020
indigenous people covid-19 deaths

COVID-19 in Rural & Marginalized Areas, Episode Eight

Here in episode eight, we talk about how indigenous communities are directly and indirectly negatively affected, including by the government’s decision to redirect resources earmarked for local community development and women’s empowerment. We further discuss what PSYDEH and partners do to lean into this new normal. This follows from episode seven, where we discussed how women are at a particular disadvantage in this pandemic, including by sharing two individual women partners’ stories.


epidemiological traffic light systemResponding to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Hidalgo has just changed its color status back to Red in the government’s epidemiological traffic light system. And there is a good reason for this, especially in indigenous communities.

While indigenous people are impacted in a proportionately smaller way than the mestizo population, since May 13, of the total number ofopen letter president obrador indigenous people infected, 19.5% died. In contrast, 10.5% of the mestizo population died of coronavirus. Globally, the COVID-19 death rate is 6.9%. Thus, the indigenous community death rate is twice as high as its mestizo peer and three times as high as the global rate. There are myriad reasons for this reality, chief among them the fact that these communities already confront significantly lower human development levels than their mestizo counterparts. And, so, it is concerning that the federal government has not altered course from its late March austerity measures policy.

On March 31st, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared a national emergency and instituted austerity measures. Among these measures is an indefinite suspension of the Instituto Nacional de Los Pueblos Indigenas (INPI) $199 million peso budget to help indigenous communities develop and defend their own territories and natural resources rights, including and especially women.

PSYDEH and our local partner network of indigenous women’s groups UNITE with the many indigenous organizations throughout Mexico to demand that the government of Mexico respect their human rights. Through an open letter addressed to Mexico’s President, Otomi, Nahuatl, and Tepehua women partners request answers to their programs for the protection and promotion of indigenous rights and attention to women. We cannot wait until the end of the pandemic to invest in the social and economic lives of these communities, to guarantee citizen’s rights to health, and protection of women suffering significant increases in gender violence.


Global resources on rural and marginalized and indigenous communities and COVID-19 were uncommon a few months back but there are now numerous solid materials available. We suggest these English-language pieces from the last two weeks.

  • This is an interesting “coffee chat” in English about COVID-19 and USA rural communities, with relevance for similar communities across the Americas.


  • The organization Rural Development Initiatives offers solid resources and strategies for confronting COVID-19.


  • The Aspen institute offers solid content for rural communities.


PSYDEH is a non-profit civil association, which was formed by the initiative of a group of young women from the municipality of Santiago Tulantepec in the State of Hidalgo. PSYDEH is committed to working with and for the most vulnerable communities in the region through the promotion of a Sustainable Human Development.