Date: Mon, 25 Dec 1995 04:01:11 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <>
Subject: Indigenous peoples meeting Paraguay Basin/Hidrovia

/** reg.samerica: 880.0 **/
** Topic: Indigenous peoples meeting Paraguay Basin/Hidrovia **
** Written 4:07 PM Dec 18, 1995 by glenirn in cdp:reg.samerica **
From: Glen Switkes < Subject: Indigenous peoples meeting Paraguay Basin/Hidrovia

Conclusions of first meeting of Indigenous Peoples of the Paraguay Basin

Asuncion, 25-27 October, 1995

Proposals for Monitoring the Paraguay-Parana Hidrovia project

500 years have passed since the first Europeans arrived to our lands. Since the beginning of this era, we were decimated, and massacred. They have tried to exterminate us, or to integrate us totally into non-indigenous society here. We indigenous peoples ask that, from now on, a new era may begin, so that for the next 500 years indigenous peoples may be respected, and effectively consulted, our wishes and needs taken into account when any actions are planned which affect our lands.. Discrimination against indigenous peoples must end. It must be definitively established that we indigenous peoples are human beings and we have the right to live in agreement with our own cultural understanding. We are part of the natural world of this earth. We have therefore the right to fully participate in any plan drawn up which affects our use of our lands.

The Hidrovia Paraguay-Parana project, proposed by the five governments of the region of the La Plata Basin, is like a giant monster which threatens the indigenous peoples of the region.

The constitutions of our countries have recognized our right to exist as original peoples. If this Hidrovia Paraguay-Parana project goes against this fundamental right, it must be stopped.

This project is intended to benefit small groups of large businessmen who will profit from the export and transport of grains, meat and minerals. But, all the people of the five countries will have to pay for it, and it will cause very great impacts to traditional populations. Nothing about this project will help indigenous peoples. If the rivers and the wetlands are affected, our drinking water, our springs and wells will be affected. In this way, our lives will be affected and our survival will be endangered.

This project does not recognize the value of the rivers, nor the value of the wetlands, nor the forests, the fish, the birds, the yacare, the tatu, or the mborevi. Nor does it value indigenous peoples or live itself. It only places value on the profits of the businessmen.

Traditional economies of indigenous peoples, artisanal fisherfolk, owners of small boats, riverine populations, will be the most rapidly and most profoundly affected by this project.

Indigenous territories throughout the region will suffer even stronger pressures than those which they now suffer, caused by land speculation, by the expansion of cattle and agricultural companies. The result will be forced displacement, beginning with the people of the river.

No doubt, the project's impacts will not be limited to the rivers and wetlands, but will extend outward in waves to encompass the entire Paraguay basin. Our concern is not limited to the affected communities, but extends to all peoples who will also be impacted by the Hidrovia.

We Indians must take action regarding proposals to improve our conditions. We have already obtained the right to be protagonists in our own destiny, but this right is still far from being recognized by the society at large, and even further from being applied. We must no longer be the first to be swept away like withered leaves when plans are made to use the resources in our territories. But as leaves accumulate in a pile, we must come together and unite to complain and to obtain our rights. We must retake our development in our own hands and make the authorities recognize and give us this right. We indigenous peoples must have our voices heard. If we are silent, we will be wiped out. If we speak in a united way, we will be heard.

In Paraguay, only about 20 per cent of indigenous communities have territories legally protected. Only a small fraction of these territories have adequate conditions for sustaining our traditional ways of life. Whatever plan for sustainable societies in the countries of the region must necessary include assuring sufficient and adequate territory for all indigenous communities and peoples.

Taking part in the First Indigenous Meeting of the Paraguay Basin, in Asuncion Paraguay, we are extremely concerned with the lack of information and transparency on the part of governmental institutions charged with impelmenting the Hidrovia Paraguay-Parana project. Given the probability that the carrying out of this project will have disastrous effects on our lives, already seriously affected by various actions which the governments have imposed on our territories and on our communities, we propose the following actions for monitoring this project, within the Rios Vivos Coalition- Paraguay-Parana-Plata, seeking a true democratization of the decisionmaking process, transparency, and broad dissemination of information to all of civil society, and in particular to the numerous traditional peoples who will be affected directly or indirectly by the project; because we want the eyes of government officials to be capable to look at us and see our suffering; because alone we cannot; together, we will be able to:

1. Prepare together and publish a report on the social and environmental situation of indigenous peoples of the Paraguay River basin. This diagnostic will be presented as an alternative and a counter-proposal to the official diagnostic carried out as part of the studies commissiones by the governments, even though it will not be part of these studies which we consider to be inadequate. Our study will be carried out according to our own timetable, permitting a deeper and more complete study, carried out with participation by communities.

All leaders of indigenous communities will participate in the definition of the scope and the depth of this study. Various meetings like the one we have held here will be necessary where proposals may be presented as well as partial results of the work in each community. For this, regional meetings throughout the basin will be needed, with prior research carried out in all communities in the basin, including indigenous communities in Argentina and in Bolivia.

Later, it is proposed that there be a second encounter of indigenous peoples of the Paraguay basin, which will compile, discuss, and adopt the results of the regional meetings and of the work carried out in the communities.

This diagnostic study should be complete and exist; it can also include the problems of indigenous communities and their environment, the ways in which the large projects may affect indigenous territories, and by which they could meet the problems and needs of communities if indigenous people were taken into account in the projects. Projects can be created to contribute to the self-sufficiency of the indigenous communities.

This study will work to promote complete and informed participation by all indigenous non-government organizations in all development projects planned by the governments or by any other sector of society throughout the region.

2. Translation, publication, and dissemination of basic information on the Hidrovia Paraguay-Parana project, in all languages spoken in the Paraguay basin region.

3. Indigenous peoples should maintain a "lobby", manifesting their active presence in all meetings and with all agencies, locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally, where projects which affect indigenous territories are discussed and decisions are taken, in the way that indigenous opinions and the reality of indigenous communities are heard, first hand, by all.

representatives of:
the Angaite, Santo Domingo community;
Guana of Vallemi-Rio Apa;
Guarani Nandeva, Nueva Asuncion;
Guarani Occidental, Santa Teresita Assemblea del Pueblo
Enhlet, El Esribo and Maroma;
Chamacoco, Puerto Esperanza;
Maka, Bartolome de las Casas;
Terena, Campo Grande, Associacao Kaguateka;
Guarani, Campo Grande, Associacao Kaguateka;
Guato, Ilha Insua Associacao dos Indios Guato;
Canoeiros do Pantanal;
Guarani, Prudente Tomas Rio Brilhante;
Kaiowa, Pirakua;
Nivakle, Laguna Escalante;
Nivakle, Esteros;
Nivakle, Mistolar;
Nivakle, Quenjaklay;
Nivakle, Rinconada;
Nivakle, Novoctas;
Ayoreo, Jesudi;
Ayoreo, Campo Loro;
Manjui, Pedro P. Pena.

For more information:
Coordinadora de Pueblos Indigenas de la Cuenca del Rio Pilcomayo,
C.C. 1380, Asuncion Paraguay.
tel: 595-21-24-427
fax: 595-21-550-451

International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94703
tel: +510-848-1155
fax: +510-848-1008

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