Report Reveals a Company Linked to Paraguayan Minister Drives Deforestation in the Chaco Region · Global Voices

The charcoal that is exported to Europe is produced by harvesting white quebracho trees, a tree typical of the Chaco region. Photograph published in Kurtural courtesy of Earthsight and used with permission.

The following is an English-translation of a Spanish-language article by Jazmín Acuña, originally published by Kurtural.

The Chaco region, which stretches across parts of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, has the world’s highest rate of deforestation, caused by logging for the production of charcoal and the expansion of grazing land for livestock.

One of the parties responsible for this situation is Bricapar, the largest exporter of charcoal in Paraguay. And it just so happens that the country’s minister of public works and communications, Ramón Jiménez Gaona, owns a quarter of Bricapar’s stock, according to the British NGO Earthsight.

Undercover investigators from the organization followed the trail of the company’s products that are sold in European supermarkets as “sustainable”. But they found a different reality when they arrived at one of Bricapar’s charcoal production centers in the department of Boquerón. There they found that the main profits of the company were generated from the indiscriminate harvesting of trees like the white quebracho.

The extensive investigation by Earthsight revealed a business plan that encourages a dramatic deforestation of the Chaco region. Trees are harvested for charcoal, which facilitates the land then being used to raise livestock. This scheme was explained in detail by the manager of the Bricapar production center, located in the town of Teniente Ochoa, where the company obtains the raw material, the wood, and houses its ovens to convert it into charcoal.

The land belongs to Paraguay’s Institute of Social Welfare and has been leased to Irasa, a livestock company, since 2008. Irasa has a 20-year contract that allows them to exploit three parcels of 18 thousand hectares — of the 200,000 that…

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