Paraguay: indigenous march

On Oct. 3 some 300 Paraguayan indigenous people from the departments of Canindeyu, Alto Paraguay, Caaguazu, San Pedro and Caazapa arrived in Asuncion and began a protest encampment in the Plaza Italia to demand that Congress approve reforms to Law 904/81, the Statute of Indigenous Communities. The Chamber of Deputies is currently debating the reforms, which would allow the country’s indigenous communities to participate in decisions affecting them; an indigenous council’s role in decision-making was eliminated under a separate law passed last year. The protesters are also seeking the dismissal of Paraguayan Indigenous Institute (INDI) president Marta Davalos and her immediate advisers, and more money for indigenous health and education projects. In addition, they are demanding that the government purchase 6,000 hectares of land for six indigenous communities. “We are again insisting in the demands for restitution of lands to their legitimate owners… for purchases of new lands and the granting of titles in the name of the communities for land purchases carried out so far,” the indigenous communities stated in a communique.

On Oct. 5 the protesters announced they would remain in the Plaza Italia until the reforms are approved. On Oct. 7 they marched through Asuncion to the Pantheon of Heroes, where they staged a traditional ceremony, then past the Congress and the INDI and back to the Plaza Italia. As of Oct. 8, the indigenous remained camped out in the plaza, enduring a cold, soaking rain. (ABC Color, Paraguay, Oct. 6, 8; Prensa Latina. Oct. 6; Ultima Hora, Paraguay, Oct. 9; Diarios de Urgencia/Resumen Latinoamericano, Oct. 4 from Pulsar/Jakueke)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 9

See our last post on the struggle in Paraguay.