On Tuesday, October 11th, members from the Aché community of Chupa Pou sent individuals armed with bows and arrows into a 2,000-hectare (nearly 5,000 acres) area to defend it from Brazilian farmers who were on the land. The Chupa Pou community not only claims the land as their traditional territory, but that in 2007 the Paraguayan government — after a struggle of many years — purchased the land for the Aché people, thus giving them legal title as well. Although there were no reports of bloodshed, the Community’s maneuver did successfully get 250 Brazilian farmers to leave the area, although they told the media that they would return.
The heart of this conflict is 2,000 hectares of land near the Brazilian border. The Aché people claim that the land is theirs traditionally and that the Paraguayan government recognized that fact and purchased the land in 2007. Despite this, the Aché people say that the land has been invaded repeatedly by Brazilians who illegally cut down trees and farm the area.
The land is also claimed by two Brazilian citizens – Luis Carlos and Volnei Ricardi — who say that they have rights to 6,000 hectares in Paraguay, including the lands in question. Regardless of whether the Brazilians have any rights or not, there have been several hundred people farming on the lands. In order to stop this, a leader from the Chupa Pou community, Marciano Chevúgi, said that their community was going into the area armed with bows and arrows to defend their territory. Chevúgi also indicated that six additional Aché communities were called to join them.
Upon reaching the site where more than 250 Brazilian farmers were, the Chupa Pou community announced that they would use force if necessary. Fortunately, no force was necessary as a prosecutor, Alba Bogado de Duarte, assisted in negotiating the removal of the Brazilians from the land. Despite the temporary victory, the Brazilians said they would return.
In addition to the Aché people’s statements that the land was handed over to them in 2007, at least one lawyer who spoke to the media indicated that there were multiple reasons why the land in question could not be taken from the Aché people. Antonio Alonzo, the attorney who handled the Chupa Pou’s case in 2007, stated that both the constitution of Paraguay and international law are on the side of the Aché. Specifically, according to Alonzo, anyone else using the lands in question would amount to an unconstitutional taking of property, which is clearly illegal.