Indian woman named minister by new president

An Aché Indian woman has been named Minister for Indigenous Affairs by Paraguay’s new president who was sworn in this month.

Margarita Mbywangi was born in the Aché’s traditional forest home, but was captured by settlers when she was four years old and sold into forced labour. Since the 1950s, many Aché have lost their land and been killed or captured as landowners and other colonists invaded.

Mbywangi is the first indigenous person to be appointed Minister for Indigenous Affairs. She has said that land rights for Paraguay’s Indians are a priority.

Among Paraguay’s most vulnerable Indians are the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, some of whom live without contact with the outside world. Their land is rapidly being destroyed, mainly by cattle ranchers.