Stop the deforestation of Yshir territory
Urgent actions in connection with the Yshir claims of two tracts of land in their ancestral territory. Background and context.

The Yshir people livelihood depends on a mixed economy that combines hunting, gathering, and fishing with small scale livestock farming and agriculture as well as salaried jobs. This way of life ensures the well being of both the Yshir and the environment. This is evident upon seeing satellite imagery where the lands titled to the Yshir communities appear as an oasis of green amid a growing dessert of deforestation.

As it is publicly known, the department of Alto Paraguay is nowadays under a fast process of deforestation lead by soy and cattle ranching corporations. To safeguard some of the existing forest the Paraguayan state as well as civil society and private organizations have established diverse conservation schemes. As a consequence, ans as it is shown in the documentary below, the Yshir people has on the one hand seen the steady decline of the resources upon which it depends in economic and cultural terms and, on the other hand, find itself prevented from accessing the areas that have yet not been destroyed.

In this context, and since 2005, the Yshir people has sought the way to re-establish a unified territory where they can sustain their way of life. In addition to start a process of community mapping,  

 

 A contiguos territory
A contiguous territory

the Yshiro  re-initiated a long-standing claim on 8,500 hectares known to the Yshir as eshma and as Puerto Ramos in cadastral records. In a similar vein they reactivated a claim for 918 hectares in a place called Puerto Pollo. As it can be appreciated in the attached map, the recovery of these lands adjacent to the ones already titled to the Yshir communities would make it possible the constitution of a contiguous territory of largely untouched forest, which would constitute a unique example in Paraguay.

These demands were initiated through the usual channels but soon after they took off it became evident some challenges to the project. In the case of Puerto Pollo, the land ended up in the hands of a Brazilian citizen who obtained it through fraudulent maneuvers triggered when the Yshir people made the National Institute of Rural Development and Lands (INDERT) aware that the tract under question was public land. Given how he obtained them, the Brazilian citizen's property titles are spurious . However, the Environment's Secretariat gave him a permit to deforest. In the case of Eshema (Puerto Ramos), the previous owner was willing to sell the property to the state so that it could be transferred to the Yshir people, yet the state did not responded to the offer promptly and the land was sold to Paraverde Corp (a corporations of Turkish capitals). UCINY continued the claim process but in the meantime the corporation also obtained from the Environment's Secretariat a permit to deforest. UCINY asked the judiciary for an injunction to stop deforestation but the request has been on the judge Agustin Careers Volpe for 11 months without response. It is important to highlight that in both cases the permit were granted without following the proper procedures as SEAM was aware that the lands were being claimed by the Yshir as part of their ancestral territory and key for their future.

In the last few days the Yshir people has seen movement of trucks and heavy equipment that indicates the clear-cutting of the forest will begin soon. The land in question represent the future of the Yshir people. This land is absolutely needed for them to continue with their cultural traditions at the same time that they enjoy the benefits of living in the 21st Century according to their own values, and all this without destroying the environment. It will help the Yshir in nothing to eventually reconstitute a unified territory with deforested lands. For all of the above it was decided to write a public lettter supported by signatures form concerned citizens all over the world  to the Vicepresident of Paraguay, Lic. Afara and to the President of the Supreme Court, Dra. Pucheta, who are in a position to quickly intervene  so that the injunction on deforestation is produced and the permits are revoked until these lands are returned to their legitimate and original owners. You can sign the letter here

 
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