EU investigates Paraguay beef human rights claims

By Pacifica Goddard

- Last updated on GMT

EU investigates Paraguay beef human rights claims

Related tags European union Paraguay Beef Livestock

The European Commission is currently looking into claims made by the tribal rights non-governmental organisation (NGO) Survival International, regarding alleged human rights violations by a company producing Paraguayan beef.

Brussels spokesperson David D’Arcy told​: “The complaint has been received by the European Commission and passed to relevant desks at DG [the directorate general for] Trade and the European External Action Service.”

Survival International had formally requested that the European Union (EU) prevent all imports of Paraguayan beef to the European market “until the Paraguayan government can assure that no cattle is being reared on land inhabited by un-contacted [native Paraguay] Indians”.

Survival claims the Brazilian company Yaguarete Pora is raising cattle on land inhabited by the last Paraguay indigenous group yet to meet people from other cultures – the Totobiegosode people (a sub-group of the Ayoreo people), “destroying the Indians’ last remaining ancestral land”​. The NGO claims such tribes are extremely vulnerable due to a lack of immunity for diseases carried by outsiders.

“Without the forest, the tribe cannot survive, and any contact between the Indians and the ranchers could be fatal,”​ argued Rebecca Spooner, a campaigner with the NGO.

In the past, the Paraguayan environment ministry has fined the company for allegedly clearing forest – but the penalty was small (Paraguayan Guarani75m, or US$16,800). However, it did order the company to write a new environmental impact report on its work, temporarily revoking its environmental licence.

Despite these criticisms, Yaguarete Pora is part of the UN Global Compact, a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are supposedly committed to aligning their operations and strategies with human rights, labour, environmental and anti-corruption principles. Meanwhile, Spooner argued: “The Paraguayan government does little to nothing to protect this area, despite the huge danger it poses against uncontacted Ayoreo… there is an absolute lack of political will in Paraguay to protect indigenous people’s land.”  

The European Union has not imported Paraguayan beef since an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the San Pedro district of Paraguay in September 2011. However on 8 November, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) formally certified that Paraguay is free of FMD. The EU is expected to resume imports of Paraguayan beef after the EU Food and Veterinary Office carries out an inspection.

Despite emails and telephone calls from​, Yaguarete Pora was not able to supply a comment.

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