Indian tribe blocks Pan-American Highway to protest land invasion
A key South American highway connecting Paraguay and Bolivia is being blocked by an Indian tribe angry at the destruction of their rapidly-shrinking island of forest.
Ayoreo Indians today blocked the Trans-Chaco Highway, which forms part of the Pan-American Highway, and have vowed to maintain their protest until outsiders who have occupied their land are removed.
The Indians are angry about the illegal invasion of their land by two Paraguayan farmers, in an area to which the Ayoreo secured official land title 16 years ago.
The farmers and their workers have erected cattle fences and bulldozed wide tracks, and claim that the land belongs to them. They were guarded by police, to prevent any attempt on the Ayoreos’ part to stop the work.
Although most members of the Ayoreo tribe are contacted, some groups are known to remain uncontacted in the forest in the area now under threat.
The Ayoreo have said to Survival International, ‘We don’t want any outsiders in our territory – it’s dangerous for us, and dangerous for our relatives in the forest. We’ll stay here [on the road] until all the outsiders leave our land.’
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The Ayoreo are extremely angry that one of the few parts of their territory that they had managed to secure is now being invaded by outsiders, with the connivance of the local police. It seems like the authorities in Paraguay favor the rich and powerful over people like the Ayoreo, who simply try to live in peace on their own land.’
Download images of the protest here: