Company destroying uncontacted tribe's land is condemned

October 24, 2008

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A Brazilian company destroying the territory of Paraguay's only group of uncontacted Indians has been condemned by Paraguay's government watchdog.

The company, Yaguarete Pora, is illegally bulldozing forest belonging to the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, the only uncontacted people in South America outside the Amazon basin. Yaguarete was investigated by the watchdog, the 'Contraloria General', after an appeal from POJOAJU, an association of Paraguayan NGOs, last December.

'The 'Contraloria General' has found reasons for the cancellation of the environmental licence granted [to Yaguarete Pora]. We conclude that there is evidence calling into doubt the truthfulness of the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted [by the company. . . including] the omission of figures, failure to acknowledge the existence of Indigenous communities [in the area where it is working], and the claim and declaration of the land as belonging to the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode,' a statement from the watchdog reads.

The 'Contraloria General' concludes that Yaguarete 'has violated the fundamental rights of Indigenous people. . . as established and recognized in Paraguay's constitution.'

The watchdog's findings come just after the worldwide release of satellite photos showing how Yaguarete Pora and another Brazilian company, River Plate, are rapidly destroying the Totobiegosode's territory. The companies want the land to graze cattle for beef.

Contacted Totobiegosode Indians, local support group GAT, and a whole network of organisations in Paraguay have spoken out in defence of the Totobiegosode's territory.