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Accusations that a ranching company owned by one of Spain’s richest men illegally bulldozed forest inhabited by uncontacted Indians have been upheld by the Paraguayan authorities.
The company, Carlos Casado SA, is owned by Spanish construction and property giant Grupo San José. Jacinto Rey González is President of both companies, and controlling shareholder of Grupo San José.
Earlier this month Survival revealed that Paraguayan authorities had mounted a raid on Carlos Casado’s estate, discovering a huge amount of unauthorised forest clearance.
The rapidly shrinking island of forest is the last refuge of uncontacted Ayoreo Indians, who are known to be hiding there.
Grupo San José has denied all knowledge of Casado’s activities. Carlos Casado denied that any illegal works have been carried out. In a statement on their website, the company’s vice-President, Diego Eduardo León, said, ‘[We] categorically deny carrying out any unauthorized deforestation in Paraguay’.
However, a letter from Paraguay’s Environment Ministry to an Ayoreo organization confirms both that works such as reservoir construction and road-building have been carried out by the firm, and also that they do not have the required permission.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘I hope Carlos Casado are not going to keep denying what the Paraguayan authorities have now confirmed – that they have acted illegally, and irresponsibly, in bulldozing an area of forest that is part of the Ayoreo tribe’s ancestral homeland. It has been clearly established that uncontacted Ayoreo are hiding in this area, as so much of the rest of their forest has been cleared already. The area must be properly protected immediately, and handed over to the Ayoreo themselves.’
Notes to Editors:
- Download the letter from Paraguay’s Environment Ministry (pdf, 2MB, in Spanish)
- Most members of the Ayoreo tribe have been contacted, but some members remain in hiding in the forests of western Paraguay. They are the last uncontacted Indians outside the Amazon. Rampant forest destruction in the region, much of it illegal, means they live permanently on the run.
- Grupo San José was responsible for the recent extension to the Prado Museum in Madrid, part of the Madrid-Valencia high-speed rail link, and many other projects.