PARAGUAY: Indians denounce illegal logging

by July 27, 2006
 

A group of Ayoreo Indians has angrily condemned the landowners who are logging their territory illegally. Senior government officials have travelled to the Ayoreo’s villages to investigate.

The Ayoreo-Totobiegosode’s territory was recently included in the Chaco Biosphere Reserve in an attempt to protect it from the private landowners who are determined to log the area of all its valuable hardwoods.

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The forest is protected by injunctions which make any activity on it illegal, but these injunctions have been repeatedly flouted.

The area is home to an unknown number of uncontacted Ayoreo families, whose forest home is being encroached upon from all sides. Amongst the worst offenders is the firm of Carlos Casado S.A., who have refused government attempts to buy the land from them to transfer to the Indians.

The Ayoreo have denounced ‘the theft of our forest and resources, especially the cutting of palo santo [a valuable hardwood] for fence posts… Marcelo Peyrat [the representative of Carlos Casado S.A.] is making himself rich through the theft of our timber.’

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I wish to express my grave concern at the continued flouting of injunctions protecting the Ayoreo Indians’ forest by private landowners. These firms, principally Carlos Casado S.A., Luna Park International Ltda. and Itakyry SRL are bulldozing tracks, logging hardwoods and erecting fences inside the Ayoreo’s territory, in open defiance of court injunctions which have made all such work illegal.

Not only is this work a violation of Paraguayan law, but it is putting in grave danger the uncontacted Ayoreo Indians who still live in the forest, and who are being pushed into a smaller and smaller area with every passing month.

I urge the Paraguayan government to uphold its own laws and Constitution which recognise Indians’ land ownership rights, and to properly enforce the injunctions protecting the Ayoreo’s forest until the land can be properly titled to them.
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