Damning report on EU

May 5, 1999

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Survival has obtained a copy of a damning new report focussing on a controversial EU 'development' project in Paraguay. The independent study shows that the European Commission has seriously misled EU governments to get the project approved.

The £12m project is supposed to benefit Paraguay's impoverished Indians. The EU member states said the project could only go ahead once the Indians had gained land titles to bits of their ancestral territory. This is their most urgent need, and an obligation under Paraguayan and international law. British ministers also pledged this was a pre-condition for approval of the project. Last July the project was approved after the Commission said this had now happened.

Now an independent study commissioned by the EU has revealed:
• that the Indians have got virtually nothing so far
• the Commission's report contained 'flawed' and 'inflated' data
• only one out of 47 communities has actually got land title.

Meanwhile many landless Indians are still living in squalor by the side of a main road five years after the EU pledged to see their land claims finally settled. Corrupt government officials have made a fortune buying up land in the Indians' name that is uninhabitable. And approval of the project has removed any incentive for the government to get any more land for the Indians.

Despite the fact that the Commission was supposed to present the report to member states in April, it has not done so.

Survival's Campaigns Coordinator Jonathan Mazower said today, 'This project is a scandal. It is supposed to benefit the Indians but the people making the money are the project consultants and corrupt officials. The Commission has tried every trick in the book to get their pet project approved, while showing absolutely no concern for the Indians' fate.'