Brazilian beef barons are holding Paraguay’s government to ransom over land inhabited by uncontacted tribes, reports Survival International, the NGO working for the rights of tribal people.
The Ayoreo Indians were granted legal title to the land last year, but ranchers have refused to hand it over unless the state allows them to deforest a large area of adjacent land which the ranchers also own.
BBC S.A and River Plate S.A, the two beef companies involved, have been caught illegally clearing land for cattle farming twice in 2011 alone.
The ranchers were charged in June following Survival’s release of satellite images revealing that 4,000 hectares of forest had been destroyed.
However, new images have emerged this week which reveal that the companies’ devastating work continues.
The Ayoreo Indians are being rapidly forced from their ancestral lands as the spread of cattle farming destroys their forests, says Survival.
Any contact with the Indians could be fatal, and the loss of their forest home would be disastrous.
Survival International Director Stephen Corry said today,(23 August 2011) "It is an embarrassing state of affairs when a national government allows itself to be held to ransom by a small group of unscrupulous businessmen. The Paraguay administration should reassert its authority by recognising and upholding the Ayoreo’s right to the ownership of their land and resources."