Critical time for uncontacted Indians

October 28, 2004

This page was created in 2004 and may contain language which is now outdated.

A bill now being debated in Paraguay's Senate could provide a vital safe haven for uncontacted Indians – the last outside the Amazon.

If approved, the measure will secure two critical areas of ancestral Ayoreo Indian land which are currently in the hands of large landholding companies.

The bill to forcibly expropriate this land has been approved by Paraguay's lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, and is now being considered by a committee of the Senate.

Uncontacted Ayoreo Indians are known to live in these forests. Earlier this year 17 of them emerged from the forest and issued a dramatic plea for a halt to the incursions into their territory. In a message to the outside world they said, 'Please do not touch the forest, because it gives us life. Please stop the bulldozers.' The landowners are illegally bulldozing and clearing the forest, which is protected by injunctions.

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival, said today, 'These are the last isolated Indians left outside the Amazon. By law their territory should have been properly protected years ago, but instead there have been repeated incursions, and much of it has been destroyed. The Ayoreo still cling on to a fraction of it – they will not survive unless it is protected now.'

Photos of the isolated Indians, and more information, are available.

Contact Miriam Ross on 020 7687 8734, [email protected]
or Jo Woodman 0207 687 8732, [email protected]