According to the third National Census of Population and Housing for Indigenous Peoples in 2012, 117,150 people living in Paraguay (2% of the Paraguayan population) self-identify as indigenous. They belong to a total of 19 indigenous peoples. The population that self-identifies as belonging to or being descendants of one of these 19 indigenous peoples are distributed over 5 linguistic families: Guaraní (Aché, Avá Guaraní, Mbya, Pai Tavytera, Guaraní Ñandeva, Western Guaraní), Maskoy (Toba Maskoy, Enlhet North, Enxet South, Sanapaná, Angaité, Guaná), Mataco Mataguayo (Nivaclé, Maká, Manjui), Zamuco (Ayoreo, Yvytoso, Tomáraho) and Guaicurú (Qom). It should be noted that the census did not record, although it did mention, the Ayoreo people living in voluntary isolation.

Indigenous peoples have constitutionally recognised rights in the Republic of Paraguay, set out in a constitution dating from 1992. Chapter V of the Constitution recognises indigenous peoples as cultural groups. They are acknowledged as predating the formation and organization of the Paraguayan state. The Constitution further recognises rights that correspond to indigenous peoples.

Paraguay has [also] recognised the main human rights instruments, including ILO Convention 169, and transposed its body of regulations into national legislation. It is also a member of and has obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights and its bodies. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued three rulings with high standards of indigenous rights, in particular related to territorial rights. However, the state lacks regulatory laws and effective programmes of implementation. Indigenous peoples’ rights are constantly being violated.

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, The Indigenous World 2019

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