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A photoessay about indigenous communities in the Chaco region of Paraguay, and their existence in a landscape under threat by agribusiness and international trade policies.

By Fernando Franceschelli and Ines Franceschelli, Global Forest Coalition

Oct. 16 was World Food Sovereignty Day. To commemorate the occasion, we bring you this photo-essay to highlight the plight of indigenous communities living in the shadow of toxic agribusiness, with their territories polluted and their resources extracted and exported abroad.

“El Chaco” has been home for millennia to at least 15 groups of Indigenous Peoples. But over the past few years the land has been invaded by agribusiness, for unsustainable livestock production, to the extent that there are now twice as many head of cattle in the Chaco then there are human beings in the whole of Paraguay. As a result, the Chaco is losing forests at a rate of 2,000 hectares per day, and is recognised as one of the places on Earth that is being most rapidly deforested. And 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 labour.

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 out of their reach. The unjust and exploitative trade rules that have caused the agribusiness take-over of the Chaco are set to worsen further with the proposed EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement. This deal will give corporations even more power to prioritise producing steak, pork and chicken for European consumers, while the lives of the Chaco’s inhabitants will remain submerged in poverty and hunger.

The photos liked below offer a glimpse into the lives of the Chaco’s Indigenous Peoples, and the struggles they face.

See the full photo essay at GlobalForestCoalition.org.