Paraguay: Indigenous Group Sprayed Aerially with Pesticides

In eastern Paraguay, 217 members of the Ava Guaraní indigenous community recently came down with health symptoms that include nausea and headaches. It is believed that these individuals became sick as a result of intentional aerial spraying with pesticide, after they refused to vacate their ancestral lands.

Governmental officials confirm that parts of the indigenous group's land located in the Itakyry district in the Department of Alto Paraná had been sprayed where no crops are present [es]. Many of the signs point to Brazilian soy growers as those responsible for the spraying, in part because the indigenous community's land is valuable for the crop and that they had been in a dispute with the Ava Guaraní over the ownership of approximately 3,000 hectares [es], according to the blog Interparaguay [es].

José Ángel López Barrios of Bienvenidos! [es] describes the isolated community where the incident took place:

Itakyry es uno de los distritos del Departamento de Alto Paraná, distante a unos 450 kilómetros de Asunción, capital de la Republica, se llega a el por caminos no pavimentados, su época de esplendor se dio en la época de las explotaciones yerbateras. Que termino al cabo de 100 años abriendo paso a la explotación de la soja en estos últimos tiempos……

Itakyry is one of the districts of the Department of Alto Paraná, located 450 kilometers from the capital city of Asunción. One arrives by unpaved roads, its heyday was during the yerba maté cultivation. This ended after 100 years, making way for the soy cultivation during recent times……

It is demand for soybeans, and the rising prices, which makes land suitable for this crop at such a high premium. Some of this land is located on ancestral lands of indigenous communities, such as the Guaraní. Blogger Carlos Rodríguez of Rescatar [es] does not think that the spraying incident against the indigenous group is an isolated incident, and calls the act “genocide”:

Hubo un tiempo en que en Paraguay los aborígenes no eran considerados seres humanos. Eran cazados como animales y sus crías rescatadas como trofeos.


Otros fueron apropiándose a bala y sangre de sus tierras y como los indígenas no hacían gestiones ante las instituciones encargadas de titular las tierras que siempre les pertenecieron, el hombre blanco si lo hizo y se plantea el contrasentido de que los legítimos dueños de estas tierras, hoy son “los invasores”.

Y siguen siendo tratados como animales. Sólo así se puede entender que los productores de soja les envíen aviones fumigadores para lanzarles venenos encima, tal como lo ha comprobado el Ministerio de Salud que socorre en estos momentos a los indígenas intoxicados por plaguicidas para soja.

There was a time in Paraguay when the aboriginals were not considered human beings. They were hunted like animals and their offspring collected like trophies.


Some of their land was appropriated with bullets and blood, and as the indigenous did not go to the institutions in charge of of providing titles to the lands that always belonged to them, the white man did go to these institutions, it makes no sense that the rightful owners of these lands are now the “invaders.”

They continue to be treated like animals. It is only this way that one can understand how the soy producers can send fumigation planes to spray poison on top of them, which was proven by the Ministry of Health, which is now helping the indigenous poisoned by pesticides.

López Barrios is also ashamed of the history of mistreatment of indigenous communities in Paraguay [es]. As a descendant of emigrants to the country, he writes that the incident “makes him feel like returning to Europe ….but really … prefers that the exploiters leave.”

Ensañarse con un pueblo indígena que tiene más de 38 siglos de existencia en sus propios y verdaderos territorios, no me parece apropiado…. Si no respetamos a nuestros mayores nuestros días se acortaran sobre la tierra y si anteponemos la avaricia a cualquier otra virtud caeremos sin remedio…..

To resent an indigenous group with more than 38 centuries in existence on their own and true territory, does not seem appropriate to me…. If we do not respect our elders, our days on earth will be shortened, and if greed is placed ahead of any other virtue, we will fall hopelessly…..


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