They demand state action to counter business groups attempting to uproot them from their land.
Some 200 Indigenous families in Paraguay are occupying parts of the downtown Asuncion demanding a meeting with President Mario Abdo Benitez and the dismissal of the head of the National Institute of the Indigenous (INDI) Ana Maria Allen for not defending their communities from people who want to uproot them from their land.
“She doesn’t know her role and is leaving legal disputes over land in the hands of bought-out judges and prosecutors,” Angel Vera, general coordinator for the Guarani Federation, told Efe.
The families have been sleeping in tents for 24 days despite threats of eviction by state security forces. One group has camped in the Plaza de Armas of the capital city of Asuncion, next to Congress, and another group in front of the INDI headquarters.
According to local news outlets, some have returned to their communities but they are being replaced. They are demanding "justice" for the Indigenous communities and denouncing "total abandonment by the State," Vera said.
According to Estela Alvarez, representative of the Indigenous Women and Youth’s Platform of the Chaco, which gathers 10 Indigenous groups, the head of the INDI should be “a person who knows how to respect and listen to the Indigenous people.”
After meeting the head of INDI and with representatives of the General Attorney’s Office, they are demanding a direct meeting with the president and have warned that they will fo the InterAmerican Human Rights Court.
Sixto Pereira, a senator front he Guasu Front coalition and president of the legislative commission on land reform, met with representatives of the Indigenous movement on Nov. 22 and since then has urged the administration to provide solutions to the urgent problem of land Indigenous communities are facing.
In 2013, human rights group Amnesty International criticized the Paraguayan state for failing to protect the Indigenous population and not recognizing their ownership of ancestral lands.