Jail sentence for Paraguay government minister who stole tribal land

By agency reporter
April 28, 2015

The minister responsible for protecting indigenous rights in Paraguay has been jailed for six years after he was found guilty of selling off indigenous land.

Ruben Quesnel was acting director of Paraguay’s Indigenous Affairs Department (INDI) when he authorised the sale of 250,000 hectares of land which had previously been transferred to an Ayoreo Indian community.

An accomplice, Justina Maribel Estebeche, who performed the deed of transfer, has been sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Survival Internataional, the global movement for the rights of tribal people, says the Ayoreo Indians in northern Paraguay have lost the majority of their ancestral homeland to outsiders.

The Ayoreo’s home in the scrub forest of Paraguay’s northern Chaco region has been found to have the highest rate of deforestation in the world.

Some of the Ayoreo are uncontacted and remain hidden in the forest avoiding all contact with outsiders. They face catastrophe unless their land is protected.

Julia Vargas, who purchased the Ayoreo’s land, has since returned the property to its rightful owners.

* Survival International http://www.survivalinternational.org/

[Ekk/4]

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