Paraguay: ranchers seek license to destroy uncontacted tribe’s land

A Brazilian cattle-ranching company is seeking permission from Paraguay’s government to destroy forest inhabited by one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes. The company, Yaguarete Pora S.A., has applied to Paraguay’s Environment Ministry for a licence to work in an area where uncontacted Ayoreo-Totobiegosode Indians live. Yaguarete own the land, but its licence to work there was withdrawn last year after the publication of satellite photos showing its destruction of the forest, and pressure from local organisations. Yaguarete also prevented an investigative team from the Environment Ministry from entering the area.

“The Environment Ministry must not grant a new licence to Yaguarete,” urged local Totobiegosode support organisation GAT (Grupo de Apoyo a los Totobiegosode). “If it does, the last of the uncontacted Totobiegosode could be wiped out.”

Yaguarete has recently announced its intention to maintain an “eco-reserve” in a small part of the forest it has been destroying—a move denounced by Survival as “greenwashing of the most outrageous kind.”

Some Totobiegosode have already been contacted and are claiming legal title to their land. Only a small part of it has been protected so far, and vast areas of the region are being rapidly deforested for cattle ranching.

Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said, “We urge Paraguay’s government not to allow Yaguarete to work on the Totobiegosode’s land. To do so would violate their rights under international law and the UN’s Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, and may well destroy them as a people.”

From″>Survival International, May 5

See our last posts on Paraguay and the world indigenous struggle.

  1. Survival International names winner of 2010 Greenwashing Award
    From Survival International, Jan. 20:

    A Brazilian company bulldozing an uncontacted tribe’s land in Paraguay has won Survival’s “Greenwashing Award 2010.”

    The company, Yaguarete Porá S.A., has won the award for “dressing up the wholesale destruction of a huge area of the Indians’ forest as a noble gesture for conservation,” says Survival’s director Stephen Corry.

    Yaguarete owns 78,549 hectares of forest that is part of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe’s ancestral territory. After satellite photos were published around the world revealing that it has destroyed thousands of hectares of the tribe’s forest, the company issued a press release announcing it intends to create a “nature reserve” on its land.

    But plans submitted by Yaguarete to Paraguay’s Environment Ministry reveal that the amount of “continuous forest” in the reserve will be just 16,784 hectares out of the 78,549 hectares total, and the company in fact plans to convert around two thirds of the land to cattle ranching.

    Some of the Totobiegosode have already been contacted and vehemently condemned the plans for the “reserve,” pointing out that it violates their rights under both Paraguayan and international law. The contacted Totobiegosode have been claiming legal title to this land since 1993, but most of it is still in private hands.

    The Totobiegosode are the only uncontacted Indians in the world having their territory destroyed for beef production.

    Survival director, Stephen Corry, said today, “This is textbook ‘greenwashing’: bulldoze the forest and then ‘preserve’ a bit of it for PR purposes. The public won’t fall for it. Yaguarete should stop playing games and pull out of the Totobiegosode’s territory once and for all.”

  2. UN urged to remove Brazilian ranchers from ‘Global Compact’
    From Survival International, March 29:

    Survival is calling for Brazilian cattle-ranchers involved in a controversial scheme to bulldoze uncontacted Indians’ land in Paraguay to be removed from the UN’s “Global Compact.”

    The cattle-ranchers’ company, Yaguarete Pora S.A., is a member of the UN “Global Compact,” described as a “strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.” The “Compact” board is appointed and chaired by the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.