Leading leather manufacturer announces Paraguay boycott of leather suppliers over fears for uncontacted Indigenous people in Paraguay

December 20, 2023

Guireja, an Ayoreo woman, on the day she was first contacted in 2004. Her relatives are still hiding in the forest. © GAT/ Survival

Pasubio, one of Europe’s leading leather manufacturers, has today announced that it will refuse to buy leather from suppliers whose activities directly or indirectly threaten the forests inhabited by the uncontacted Ayoreo people in Paraguay.

Pasubio’s decision follows intensive dialogue with the Italian office of Indigenous rights organization Survival International, which filed a formal complaint against the company under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, assisted by the lawyers Veronica Dini and Luca Saltalamacchia. 

These Ayoreo are the last uncontacted Indigenous people in South America outside the Amazon, and the ranches occupying and illegally deforesting their ancestral land threaten their very existence.

In its announcement, Pasubio said: “[Our company] is today announcing its commitment to defend the ancestral territory of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode Indigenous people…

“Thanks to the awareness-raising role played over the years by Survival International, the global movement for Indigenous peoples’ rights, and the NGO Earthsight, the Pasubio Group has learnt about the threat to the Ayoreo Totobiegosode people of Paraguay's Gran Chaco region, especially the uncontacted Ayoreo groups living uncontacted in the forest.

“The Pasubio Group is therefore announcing its decision to exclude from its suppliers any leather linked to the deforestation of the [Ayoreo territory]; starting today, the Pasubio Group will halt all commercial relationship with any Paraguayan supplier unable to provide appropriate guarantees regarding the absence of any relationship, direct or indirect, with the cattle ranches located within the [Ayoreo territory].”

The Ayoreo territory is today an island of forest surrounded by a sea of deforestation, as the land around it (and some inside it) has been cleared for cattle ranching. Since the start of this year countless fires set by ranchers have consumed a significant part of the Ayoreo’s forest.

An unknown number of Ayoreo live uncontacted in the forest. Many more have been forced out of the forest, and now live in settled communities.

Caroline Pearce, Director of Survival International, said today: “We’re delighted that Pasubio has committed to boycott leather from suppliers that threaten the lives and lands of the Ayoreo in Paraguay, and we look forward to other companies doing the same. We will, of course, be watching closely to ensure that the commitment is implemented in full.

“The powerful figures behind Paraguay’s leather industry need to know that the world won’t stand for the illegal destruction of the forest and its people in the name of profit. Their industry’s name is being brought into disrepute: we hope this news will serve to speed up the appallingly slow process of recognizing the Ayoreo’s land rights, which has already gone on for  thirty years. The authorities in Paraguay should finally respect national and international law; expel all the cattle ranchers from inside the Ayoreo’s territory, and return the land to them.”

Note to Editors: 

Italy is the world’s biggest buyer of Paraguayan leather, and Pasubio is the main Italian importer (2022 data). Pasubio leather is primarily used in the automotive industry. BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche and many others buy it to make interiors, seats and steering wheels.