Uncontacted tribe’s plight sparks mass Indian plea to president

The desperate plight of the last remaining uncontacted Indians in Paraguay has sparked a mass Indian plea to Paraguay's new president, denouncing the ongoing 'violation of (the Indians') cultural, environmental and territorial rights.'

Eight Indian organisations in Paraguay have lobbied the president, ex-Bishop Fernando Lugo, expressing their concern for the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, the only uncontacted Indians in South America outside the Amazon.

The organisations' plea comes just days after the worldwide publication of satellite photos revealing how huge new areas of the Totobiegosode's territory have been devastated in the last six months alone. The forest is being bulldozed by Brazilian companies who want the land to graze cattle.

A statement from the Indian organisations urges President Lugo to halt the destruction of the Totobiegosode's forest, protect the Indians, and recognise their ownership rights to their land. A number of Totobiegosode have already been contacted, but many of them have relatives who are still uncontacted.

A number of other organisations in Paraguay, including the United Nations' Development Programme, are also lobbying President Lugo to protect the Totobiegosode. The Indians depend entirely on the forest for their homes, livelihood and survival, and are exceedingly vulnerable to any form of contact with outsiders because of their lack of immunity to disease.

Survival's director, Stephen Corry, said today, 'What the sat photos reveal is heartbreaking – the destruction of Paraguay's last uncontacted Indians' land and, with that, possibly the Indians themselves. Pressure on the new president to do something about this is building and it is a great opportunity for Lugo to show Paraguay, its indigenous population, and the rest of the world that it intends to stand by its most vulnerable, threatened citizens.'

Download the statement (in Spanish) from the eight Indian organisations to Paraguay's president

View the most recent satellite photos of the Totobiegosode's territory

View satellite photos of the Totobiogosode's territory taken earlier this year

Survival researcher Jonathan Mazower, who has met some of the contacted Totobiegosode, is available for interview.

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]