Talks on uncontacted Paraguyan tribe fail to stop logging

By agency reporter
August 25, 2017

Landmark talks between the Paraguayan government and a recently contacted tribe have yet to reach an agreement, allowing rampant deforestation to continue. Some members of the tribe are uncontacted, and live in a rapidly shrinking island of forest.

The talks began six months ago after a petition from the Ayoreo tribe to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an influential body which holds governments in the Americas to account on human rights issues. The Ayoreo have been claiming the right to their ancestral land since 1993.

Halfway through the year-long process  little concrete action has been taken, leading to fears for the tribe’s long-term surviva, says Survival International, the global movement for the rights of tribal people. A technical study is due to be carried out to assess the feasibility of securing the land.

The government has also failed to stop the rapid logging of land owned by the Ayoreo, despite a 2016 emergency order from the Inter-American Commission to protect the uncontacted Indians and halt deforestation.

Survival International is calling for a complete halt to logging on Ayoreo land, and for the return of all lands which have been titled to ranching companies.

Uncontacted tribes are not backward and primitive relics of a remote past, says Survival. They are our contemporaries and a vitally important part of humankind’s diversity. Where their rights are respected, they continue to thrive. They are the best guardians of their environment. And evidence proves that tribal territories are the best barrier to deforestation.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “The Ayoreo have already been waiting more than twenty years for their lands to be protected. All this time they’ve seen their forests destroyed about them. They hoped the Inter-American Commission’s intervention would finally push the government to act, but that hope too has proved an illusion. Tragically, it seems that Paraguay’s government is so firmly tied to the ranchers and landowners who control the levers of power that nothing short of massive public pressure will move them to act.”

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

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