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Indigenous Peoples

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Indigenous peoples in Paraguay insist on full respect for human rights following coup d'etat, 27 June 2012

3 July, 2012

Federation for the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples -  FAPI
Legally registered under Decree No.508410

Statement on the current political and social situation in Paraguay

Following the dismissal of President Fernando Lugo through an abrupt and traumatic process for all of us, and given the present political situation in Paraguay, FAPI, a body that unites several indigenous peoples’ organisations of the western and eastern regions of the country, wishes to inform the national and international communities that:

1. Our Indigenous Peoples’ Organisation demands that the Government installed by Congress respect Indigenous People’s human rights and our territorial rights over which we have sought recognition for many years. In particular, we call for respect for the rights of our brothers in voluntary isolation, including the Ayoreo people in northern Paraguayan Chaco, and the Mbya Guarani in the Tekoha Guazu Traditional Territory located in San Rafael National Park Reserve. We demand that the Paraguayan State cancels its historical debt to the Mbya Guarani and Ava Guarani peoples stemming from the construction of the Hydroelectric Dams of Yacyreta and Itaipu, respectively.  Indigenous Peoples need legal guarantees for tenure rights to our ancestral and traditional territories, and we reject the statements made by the Acting President, Federico Franco, arguing that “the country’s problem is not the land, but to provide income and create jobs”.

2. We are deeply concerned about the comment made by a person in the Executive, in a statement made to the international press saying: “who is responsible for guaranteeing that civil war will not break out (sic)…” .  So far, the international community is witness to the fact that that all expressions in favour or against the person to assume the Presidency have been peaceful and non-violent. These unjustified statements, stemming from a person that holds the position of Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, could generate an unnecessary state of alert among the police and armed forces, and these words could become the cause of violent and reprehensible actions. It seems that these statements have no basis in fact and are directed against those of us exercising our freedoms and defending and demanding our rights. On this point we affirm that dissent is a fundamental right in a democracy.

3. Indigenous communities and their settlements have frequently been victims of violence, especially at the hands of the National Police who have no justification other than the illegal defence of properties under fraudulent possession by third parties. These properties are in lands legalized by the State in favour of indigenous peoples, including lands titled and registered in the Public Registry of the General Directorate. In this way, the police actions are in violation of the Constitution and the law. We trust that these illegal actions will not be repeated, not only because of the harm they may cause, but also because they will further add to the illegitimacy attributed to the origin of the executive power of the government.

4. We have heard repeatedly from Mr. Federico Franco that Brazilians and so called brasiguayos will be privileged under this administration, and that they will receive ‘legal security’ over their productive resources, including land. We believe that indigenous peoples, peasants and all Paraguayans deserve the same commitment to security. We demand that the Executive power urgently abandon the historic practice of discrimination, and that the same guarantee for rights that it mentions be given in relation to our territories, rights that have been violated innumerable times under a dense blanket of impunity in both the Eastern region and in the Western Chaco region of the country.

5. Finally, we reiterate our hope that our collective and individual rights will not be violated during the time that your government will be in power, expecting that vigilance of human rights will not be affected by the serious democratic crisis in Paraguay, and that the authorities will fulfil their duty and obligation to respect the equality of everyone that inhabits the Republic of Paraguay, without distinction or privilege.

Hipólito Acevedo
President, FAPI

To read this statement in its original language, Spanish, click here.