Indigenous land victory in Paraguay

Amnesty International reports that a land deal was finalized this week between Paraguay and a land owner to allow a long-displaced Indigenous community to rebuild it community.

For almost two decades, the Yakye Axa community has fought a legal battle to return to their ancestral lands while around 90 families were forced to live in destitute conditions alongside a highway.

Years ago, private landowners moved in and took over their lands. Indigenous families were dispersed among privately owned cattle ranches, where many were mistreated and exploited.

A lawyer representing the Yakye Axa says that the community will soon move to the newly acquired land, which comprises more than 12,000 hectares within its ancestral lands.

In 1993, the Yakye Axa community started a legal process to reclaim a portion of their ancestral lands.  In 2005, the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered Paraguay to restore the Yakye Axa’s lands.

Once the Yakye Axa community is resettled, under the terms of the Inter-American Court ruling, the Paraguayan authorities must also set up a US$950,000 fund aimed at community development and to be used for educational, housing, agricultural, and health projects, and drinking water and sanitation.

This latest indigenous land deal comes several months after another Enxet indigenous community, the Sawhoyamaxa, negotiated an agreement in September 2011 to return to their ancestral lands. Those negotiations are still ongoing.

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