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The Kayapó Mekrãgnotire people are once again blocking a key highway to protest the Brazilian government’s Covid-19 response and land invasion. Kabu Institute

Indigenous Brazilian protesters defied a court ruling on Tuesday and blocked a key highway for the second time in 24 hours, after reopening it with federal police earlier today.

The Kayapó Mekrãgnotire people first blocked a major highway on Monday near the town of Novo Progresso, in the state of Para, in the north of the country, demanding health assistance, medical supplies and food to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

They also demanded an end to deforestation and illegal activities in their territories, according to a statement obtained by CNN from the Kabu Institute, an NGO created to manage indigenous villages and inspect forests in the region.

Later that evening, a federal judge ordered protesters to clear roadblocks or face a daily fine of 10,000 reais ($ 1,800).

Tuesday morning, indigenous protesters reopened the highway, but warned that if the government did not engage in talks over their demands, they would block it again.

Brazilian Representative Joenia Wapichana published an official letter on Tuesday to Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão urging him to open a dialogue with the Kayapó Mekrãgnotire people regarding their demands.

Why they chose the highway: Indigenous leaders say the proximity of the road brought the coronavirus to their villages, the Kabu Institute told CNN on Monday.

The first cases of coronavirus among the Kayapó Mekrãgnotire occurred following their contact with urban populations and the presence of illegal minors in their reserves.

At least 21,000 indigenous people in Brazil have been infected with Covid-19 and more than 600 have died, according to the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB).

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