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Genocide of indigenous peoples in Paraguay

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There are 17 indigenous tribes in Paraguay with the majority having their territories in the Chaco region Tribes in this region include the Guaraní, Ayoreo, Toba-Maskoy, Aché and Sanapan which according to the census from 2002 number an estimated 86,000 or roughly around 2 per cent of the total population These peoples have faced persecution particularly under the dictator Alfredo Strossner that some observers call a Genocide of indigenous peoples in Paraguay


  • 1 Repression under Alfredo Stroessner
  • 2 Destruction of the Ache tribe
  • 3 Assessment of persecution as a genocide
  • 4 References
  • 5 Bibliography

Repression under Alfredo Stroessner

Between 1956 and 1989, while under the military rule of General Alfredo Stroessner, the indigenous population had more territory taken than at any other period in Paraguay's history and were subjected to systematic human rights abuses In 1971, Mark Münzel, a German anthropologist accused Stroessner of attempted genocide against the indigenous peoples of Paraguay[1] and Bartomeu Melià, a Jesuit anthropologist stated that the forced relocations of the indigenous peoples was ethnocide[2] In the early 1970s the Stroessner regime was charged by international groups of being complicit in genocide However, because of the repressive actions undertaken by the state the indigenous tribes organized themselves politically and had a major role in bringing about the end of the military dictatorship and the eventual transition to democracy[3][2][4]

Destruction of the Ache tribe

During the 1960s and 1970s, 85 percent of the Aché tribe died, with many hacked to death with machetes to make room for the timber industry, mining, farming and ranchers[5] One estimate posits this amounts to 900 deaths[6]According to Jérémie Gilbert, the situation in Paraguay has proven that it is difficult to provide the proof required to show "specific intent", in support of a claim that genocide had occurred The Aché, whose cultural group is now seen as extinct, fell victim to the development by the state, who had promoted the exploration of Aché territory by transnational companies for natural resources Gilbert concludes that though planned and voluntary destruction had occurred, it is argued by the state that there was no intent to destroy the Aché, as what had happened was due to development[7]

Assessment of persecution as a genocide

The allegation of genocide by the state was brought before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission which has jurisdiction on allegations of genocide carried out by a state The commission gave a provisional ruling that Paraguay had not carried out a genocide, but stated it had concerns over "possible abuses by private persons in remote areas of the territory of Paraguay"[8]


  1. ^ Münzel 1973, p 5
  2. ^ a b Becker 2010
  3. ^ Minority Rights Group International 2007
  4. ^ Horst 2003, p 104
  5. ^ Churchill 2000, p 433
  6. ^ http://citeseerxistpsuedu/viewdoc/downloaddoi=101110234008&rep=rep1&type=pdf Victims of State:Genocide, Politicides and Group Repression Since 1945 Page 26 Babara Haff & Ted Robert Gurr
  7. ^ Gilbert 2006, p 118
  8. ^ Quigley 2006, p 125


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  • Becker, Meghan Auker 11 April 2010 "Paraguayan indigenous peoples resist the Stroessner regime, 1969–1989" Global Nonviolent Action Databasemw-parser-output citecitationmw-parser-output citation qmw-parser-output id-lock-free a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-free amw-parser-output id-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output id-lock-registration a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-registration amw-parser-output id-lock-subscription a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-subscription amw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registrationmw-parser-output cs1-subscription span,mw-parser-output cs1-registration spanmw-parser-output cs1-ws-icon amw-parser-output codecs1-codemw-parser-output cs1-hidden-errormw-parser-output cs1-visible-errormw-parser-output cs1-maintmw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registration,mw-parser-output cs1-formatmw-parser-output cs1-kern-left,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-leftmw-parser-output cs1-kern-right,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-rightmw-parser-output citation mw-selflink
  • Churchill, Ward 2000 Israel W Charny ed Encyclopedia of Genocide ABC-CLIO ISBN 978-0874369281CS1 maint: ref=harv link
  • Gilbert, Jérémie 2006 Indigenous Peoples' Land Rights Under International Law: From Victims to Actors Transnational ISBN 978-1571053695CS1 maint: ref=harv link
  • Horst, Rene Detlef 2003 "Consciousness and Contradiction" In Erick Detlef Langer, Elena Muñoz ed Contemporary Indigenous Movements in Latin America Rowman & Littlefield ISBN 978-0842026802CS1 maint: ref=harv link
  • Münzel, Mark 1973 The Aché Indians: genocide in Paraguay PDF International Work Group for Indigenous AffairsCS1 maint: ref=harv link
  • Quigley, John B 2006 The Genocide Convention: An International Law Analysis Ashgate ISBN 978-0754647300CS1 maint: ref=harv link
  • "World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples – Paraguay : Overview" Minority Rights Group International 2007

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