Indigenous peoples in Paraguay

There are approximately 112,848 indigenous people living in Paraguay, belonging to 19 peoples from five different linguistic families:

  • Guaraní (Aché, Avá Guaraní, Mbya, Pai Tavytera, Guaraní Ñandeva, Guaraní Occidental)
  • Maskoy (Toba Maskoy, Enlhet Norte, Enxet Sur, Sanapaná, Angaité, Guaná)
  • Mataco Mataguayo (Nivaclé, Maká, Manjui)
  • Zamuco (Ayoreo, Chamacoco: constituting the Yvytoso and Tomáraho)
  • Guaicurú (Qom)

According to preliminary data from the 2012 National Census of Indigenous Population and Housing, published in 2013, the Oriental region is home to the highest proportion of indigenous peoples (52.3%) while the Chaco region has the greatest diversity of peoples. They form, in all, 531 communities and 241 villages.

Human rights violations

Although the indigenous peoples of Paraguay represent a great diversity and cultural wealth for the country, they are the victims of systematic and structural discrimination on the part of both state and non-indigenous society.

In this regard, they are the poorest, most excluded and most marginalised sector of the country’s population. 

In this context, all indigenous rights – civil, cultural, economic, social and political – are constantly violated and neglected.

This situation is due, primarily, to the invation, destruction and disposession of indigenous peoples' traditional and ancestral territories, where they live and which are deeply connected to their worldview, survival and cultural practices. 

Favourable legal framework

Paraguay has ratified the main international human rights instruments and enjoys a favourable legal framework for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights, having transposed ILO Convention 169 into its domestic legislation in 1993 as Law 234/93.

Paraguay also voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007.

However, the state is mainstreaming, interpreting and applying these instruments inadequately, if at all, meaning that the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples are constantly being violated by the executive, legislative and judicial state powers. 

Yearly Update

Download the 2016 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Paraguay to learn about major developments and events during 2015.