Paraguay: Ayoreo protest English museum expedition to the Chaco
Natural History Museum expedition to remote area threatens uncontacted indigenous groups An expedition of more than 20 scientists from the Natural History Museum is due to leave London this month to conduct a large scale research study in a remote area of Paraguay, near the border with Bolivia, alongside local scientists and support staff, forming a total expedition team of over 60.
But the presence of uncontacted indigenous people from the Ayoreo ethnic group in the area has led local indigenous leaders to demand in a letter to the Paraguayan President, Fernando Lugo, that this huge expedition be immediately cancelled. The expedition, called “Paraguay 2010”, would take researchers from diverse fields into virgin areas of the Dry Chaco, the largest dry forest in South America, covering a vast area of North Western Paraguay, Eastern Bolivia and Northern Argentina, with the largest part of virgin forest around the border area between Paraguay and Bolivia, where the scientists will be visiting. They describe it as “one of the great under-explored areas on Earth”. However, the museum has now been sent detailed evidence, compiled by Paraguayan indigenous rights NGO, Iniciativa Amotocodie, whose work involves monitoring the presence of the uncontacted groups around the Chaco, which shows that the area is in fact home to several indigenous groups, who live without contact with modern civilization, and who reject and avoid all external contact. The isolated Ayoreo whose territories lie in the Chaco, in Paraguay and Bolivia, are the only remaining uncontacted peoples in Latin America outside of the Amazon basin.