“Imminent Threat” to Last Remaining Uncontacted Indigenous Group in Paraguay

On Wednesday, August 10th, Survival International reported to the United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) that the only remaining uncontacted people in Paraguay — the Totobiegosode people (a sub-group of the Ayoreo people) — are in imminent danger. Specifically, the Totobiegosode are being systematically removed from the Chaco forest where they live so that the land can be used for cattle grazing. The destruction of their land, however, is occurring illegally. Specifically, Survival International reports that two Brazilian companies — BBC S.A and River Plate S.A. — are responsible not only for the deforestation, but for bringing diseases into the area that represent a serious threat to the indigenous inhabitants.

The two companies responsible for this damage used to own the land in question. However, Paraguay purchased approximately 18,000 hectares (~45,000 acres) from these corporations on the condition that they return the land to the Ayoreo people. The corporations have refused to comply with the land transfer until the Paraguayan government grants them permission to chop down forests on lands adjacent to the area.

This isn’t the first time the Ayoreo people have had to deal with incidents like this one. A series of expulsions of the Ayoreo people have occurred over the past 50 years, resulting in contact with individuals outside their tribe for the majority of Ayoreo people who live today. Despite multiple encroachments on their territory, however, the Totobiegosode represent a dwindling (and currently unknown) number of individuals who have remained free from outside contact. The Ayoreo people who no longer live in isolation have been fighting for their traditional land for more than 20 years now.

Survival International called on CERD to pressure the Paraguayan government to take action in order to stop the destruction of the Totobiegosode’s land, and to move forward on addressing the Ayoreo people’s long-standing land claim.

See the articles linked in this story and additional Indigenous headlines by clicking here (updated daily).

Posted in: Ayoreo, Paraguay
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8 Responses to “Imminent Threat” to Last Remaining Uncontacted Indigenous Group in Paraguay

  1. Pingback: Paraguay: Uncontacted Indigenous Group in ‘Imminent Danger’ · Global Voices

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  7. neil poppendeck says:

    How sad. My daughter was a Peace Corp vol. in Paraguay from 2008 – 2010. The two of us went on an expedition to the Chaco ( only 2 Americans in 2008) – what a wild lonely place. We heard from our guide about the Ayoreo and how they were “being protected”. We also just talked with Wade Davis from Nat. Geographic and hope maybe the UN can intervene where Paraguay is powerless.

  8. Ryan Seelau says:

    Thanks so much for your comment. It is definitely a tragic situation, although hopefully raising awareness will have some effect either locally or globally. If you happen to hear anymore news on this topic, or if there is anyway we can be of use to you or your contacts (we are writing from Santiago, Chile — so not in the Chaco, but closer to the situation than others which means we sometimes have access to different information), then please don’t hesitate to leave another comment or send us an e-mail at: us@indigenousnews.org. Thanks for reading us and taking the time to leave a comment.

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