On Monday, December 5th, after months of pressure from various Indigenous communities throughout Paraguay, Lida Acuña resigned from her post as President of Paraguay’s Instituto Paraguayo del Indígena (INDI) — the Paraguayan government’s main organization for handling Indigenous affairs. On December 9th, it was officially announced that Óscar Ayala will succeed Acuña at that position. Ayala is a major human rights attorney who helped represent at least four different Indigenous communities in front of the Organization of American States (OAS) and who helped win major land settlements for the communities in those cases.
When Acuña’s decision to resign was announced, she cited “health reasons” for stepping down. At least some Indigenous leaders, however, have stated that Indigenous communities have been pressuring Acuña to step down due to her failure to effectively handle various land conflicts.
In response to Acuña’s resignation, news came out that Oscar Ayala had been contacted about the position. And on Friday, December 9th, he was officially appointed to the position. Ayala is an attorney who has spent the last fifteen years with the organization, Tierra Viva, including the last five years as Executive Coordinator of the organization. Tierra Viva is an Indigenous rights organization — focused on the Indigenous peoples living in the Chaco — that has brought multiple petitions on behalf of Indigenous communities to the OAS, and has won land rights for at least three Indigenous communities in Paraguay. Ayala played a role in each of those cases and now, with his new title, will have the difficult task of implementing those decisions and providing land and resources to the Indigenous communities involved.
A copy of the official declaration of Ayala’s appointment can be found here.