On Thursday (April 7th, 2011), the Paraguayan Senate approved the transfer of the finca 470 land to the Ache. Finally! The Ache had been in Asuncion for the previous 22 days protesting in front of the SEAM (Ministry of the Environment) office.
For background on the land struggle:
Dr. Magdalena Hurtado and Dr. Kim Hill, the leaders of the Indigenous Health and Human Rights group, have been working with the Ache for almost 30 years. The Ache are hunter-gatherers who first made contact and came out of the forest in the 1970s. At that time, forty percent of the Ache population died from preventable respiratory diseases (so called ‘virgin soil diseases’). Many lives could have been saved if the Paraguayan government had at the time provided penicillin and other antibiotics, as well as food and water. Instead, the government ignored the situation in spite of pleas for help from the US Embassy, missionaries and others. A case was filed against the Paraguayan government for committing genocide by the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights in the late 1970s.
The Paraguayan government continues to neglect and violate Ache human rights. At present, Paraguayan government officials are doing all that they can to take half of the Ache’s last piece of forested territory without any regard for ILO Convention 169, article 14, or the contract of a loan from the IADB (BID) signed by the Paraguayan government agreeing to set aside this last piece of Ache traditional territory and forest for conservation. They are taking away the land on the pretext of splitting it with another ethnic group, which consists of only a few families who have only recently and temporarily occupied a small part of the land.
Watch these videos, prepared by Kim Hill, to learn more:
I believe the most recent protesting was spurred on by illegal logging taking place on the land in question, but that’s not confirmed.