|Members of the Paraguayan Ayoreo-Totobiegosode group on the day they were contacted for the first time, in 2004. |
© GAT 2004
UN officials have been warned of the imminent threat against the lives of Paraguay’s last remaining uncontacted tribe ahead of their meeting today that will assess the country’s racial discrimination record.
In a report submitted to the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Survival has exposed companies involved in the persecution of extremely vulnerable uncontacted Ayoreo.
The Indians are being systematically forced from their homes in the Chaco forest of northern Paraguay to make way for cattle farming.
Ranchers are destroying the Ayoreo’s forests and exposing them to deadly diseases to which they have no immunity.
Brazilian-owned firms BBC S.A and River Plate S.A. have recently been caught red-handed for illegally clearing land inhabited by uncontacted Ayoreo.
Both companies received state payment for 18,000 hectares of land on condition that it is returned to the Ayoreo. However, they have refused to complete the transfer unless they are granted permission to deforest land lying adjacent to the area.
Contacted members of the tribe have been pursuing land entitlement for themselves and their uncontacted relatives for almost twenty years, but the government has so far failed to remove the cattle ranchers from their ancestral territories.
Survival’s report urges the CERD to take up the pressing issue with Paraguay’s government and encourages it to push forward the Ayoreo’s long-awaited land claim so that their uncontacted relatives can live on their traditional lands in peace.