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The Paraguayan Chaco region has been home to various groups of Indigenous peoples for millennia. But over the past few years, the land has been invaded by agribusinesses for the purpose of unsustainable livestock production.
As a result, the Chaco is losing forests at a rate of 240,000 hectares per year. At the current rate of deforestation, in 24 years, all Chaco forest cover would all be gone, and the effects will be mostly irreversible. To make matters even worse, the land is increasingly being covered in genetically modified soy and the toxic agrochemicals that go hand-in-hand with it. The soy is primarily produced as feedstock for factory farms in Europe and other parts of the world. Cattle ranchers and soy planters have stolen Indigenous land in the Chaco and forced its people into slave labor.
Every day, the Chaco’s inhabitants see immense convoys of ships and barges passing before their eyes, carrying away their resources to feed others in faraway places, with the profits of this trade remaining beyond their reach.
The unjust and exploitative trade rules that have caused the agribusiness takeover of the Chaco are set to worsen further with the proposed European Union-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the Latin American bloc Mercosur, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It is the world’s fourth-largest trading bloc. This deal will give corporations even more power to prioritize producing steak, pork and chicken for European consumers, while the lives of the Chaco’s inhabitants will remain submerged in poverty and hunger.
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The photos below offer a glimpse into the lives of the Chaco’s Indigenous people and the struggles they face.