AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Indigenous pastoral care: respect for national laws and international agreements signed by Paraguay

Thursday, 2 December 2021 indigenous   human rights   episcopal conferences  

mondo e missione

Asuncion (Agenzia Fides) - "The National Constitution in the fifth chapter, recognizes the existence of indigenous peoples as groups of cultures prior to the formation and organization of the Paraguayan State, and guarantees the right to preserve and develop their ethnic identity", recalls the National Coordination of Indigenous Pastoral, which is part of the Episcopal Conference of Paraguay, in a statement to public opinion in which it underlines the situation of indigenous peoples in the country. The pronouncement follows the "Open Letter" addressed to the State Powers by the Permanent Council of the Episcopal Conference, in which it is requested, among other things, "that the rights of native peoples and the laws that regulate them be respected", (see Fides, 30/11/2021). The Coordination of Indigenous Pastoral Care recalls that for more than 50 years it has been walking together with these peoples "in search of a land without evils and in the struggle for territorial security, guaranteed by national and international laws".
He therefore stresses that it is the duty of the Paraguayan State to "guarantee compliance with our regulations regarding Community Property of the land for Indigenous Communities, whose purpose is the conservation and development of their peculiar ways of life". The communiqué of the Indigenous Pastoral also cites ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, ratified by national law 234/93, which "provides that the peoples concerned are granted the right of ownership and possession of the lands that they traditionally occupy". For this reason, it calls for the necessary measures to safeguard this right and, at the same time, to safeguard the right of Indigenous peoples to use lands that are not exclusively occupied by them, but "to which they have always had access for their traditional and subsistence activities".
"Unfortunately these laws have not been respected - concludes the statement - and this is reflected in the recent evictions of indigenous communities. In this context, we demand strict compliance with national laws and international agreements, signed and ratified by the Republic of Paraguay". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 2/12/2021)