International letter-writing campaign for uncontacted Indians launched

February 18, 2010

A bulldozer works on a road built through Ayoreo-Totobiegosode land, Paraguay © Survival

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A global letter-writing campaign to protect the lives of uncontacted Indians in Paraguay has been launched by Survival.

Paraguay is home to the only uncontacted Indians outside the Amazon basin, but their lands are being rapidly destroyed for beef production. Contacted members of the tribe, known as the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, have been trying to claim legal title to a small part of their ancestral territory since 1993, but most of it is still in private hands.

A Brazilian ranching company, Yaguarete Porá, has announced plans to clear a large part of their 78,000 hectare estate, even though uncontacted Ayoreo-Totobiegosode Indians are known to use the area. The estate is within the 1993 land claim.

The campaign targets Paraguay’s President Lugo, who has so far failed to live up to pre-election promises to protect Indigenous lands from invasion.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The plight of the uncontacted Ayoreo-Totobiegosode is desperate. They’re seeing their forests literally bulldozed around them by cattle ranchers who are hell-bent on destroying large parts of it. Why should the Indians have to flee from one corner of the forest to the other? They simply want to live there in peace, and under the law they have that right.’