Yakye Axa

Introduction

The indigenous community Yakye Axa in Enxet is made up of 319 persons, gathered in 90 families, who have traditionally lived in the Chaco of Paraguayo. At the end of the 19th century, the non-indigenous occupation of these lands started, leading to the establishment of cattle farms. With this occupation, the indigenous peoples living in this area became employees in the cattle farms. The members of the community Yakye Axa mainly worked in the farm of Loma Verde. From this farm, they moved to the settlement of El Estribo in 1986, responding to the invitation of the inhabitants of this area and to trying to escape the exploitation suffered in Loma Verde.

Unfortunately, this change did not result in an improvement of the living conditions of the community, due to the low productivity of the land, the lack of food and the cultural marginalization. In the light of these extreme conditions, some members of the community decided 10 years later (1996) to go back to Loma Verde, that is, to the land that they claim as part of their ancestral territory. Since the access to these lands had been denied, the members of the community settled down in front of the fence surrounding Loma Verde, next to the road that links Pozo Colorado and Concepción, in the Presidente Hayes Department. It is worth underlining that these families live under extreme conditions, since the community cannot access the land claimed nor use it for the production of food or for hunting purposes. Moreover, the members of the community cannot use the road-side either, since, according to the authorities, it is a “public road-side”, in which hunting, the extraction of firewood and water, etc. are forbidden. Apart from the problems of access to land, the families of the community of Yakye Axa are not provided with the basic requirements, like adequate housing, sanitation, aqueduct, electricity, education for children, etc.

The claiming process took place before different administrative, judicial and legislative instances in Paraguay without a satisfactory sentence. As a last resort, the community Yakye Axa appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in January 2000, which transferred the case of the community to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. The Court produced a judgment on this case dated June 17, 2005. In this court decision the Paraguayan State was sentenced for the violation of the rights. The Court served Paraguay a note listing measures of redressal for the country to take such as identifying the traditional territory of the members of the Yakye Axa community, handing it over free of charge to the community within a maximum period of three years. While the members of the community are without land, the State should provide them immediately and continuously with the goods and basic services that they need to survive, like water, food, medical care, medicines and school materials. Also, the State should, in a reasonable period of time, adopt in the national legislation the legislative and administrative measures required to ensure the effective enjoyment of the right to property of the indigenous peoples. Furthermore, the State should pay for material damage and for costs and expenses within a year.

Despite the sentence, Paraguay has until today not complied with this sentence, and prolonged the extremely inadequate living conditions of the community members.

FIAN

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Indigenous Yakye Axa community is still denied its lands

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