Bolivia: Indigenous opposition stops Amazon road project, Morales backs down

Morales abandons Amazon jungle highway

On the march: Thousands of indigenous Amazonians made a 63-day trek from their villages to protest a proposed road through the heart of the Bolivian jungle.

LA PAZ, Bolivia — President Evo Morales said Friday that he was scrapping plans to build a highway through a nature reserve in Bolivia’s jungle lowlands, bowing to public pressure after a two-month protest march by Amazon Indians.

Morales did not abandon the idea of a highway through Bolivia linking Brazil with the Pacific coast, but said it would no longer cut through the pristine Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory National Park, or TIPNIS.

“And so the matter is resolved,” Morales told reporters. “For me, this is called governing by obeying the people.”

More than 100 protesters remained camped in front of the presidential palace Friday, two days after activists ended their trek from the Amazon reserve to La Paz, the world’s highest capital.

The march galvanized opposition to the Brazilian-funded highway and Continue reading

Political Repression in Bolivia sparks international protests

STATEMENT ON THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ACTIVISTS ARRESTED IN BOLIVIA

In August 1st, the repression forces of Bolivian State raided the office of the Center for Popular Studies (CEP) and arrested the Peruvian activists Hugo Wálter Minaya Romero, Williams Antonio Minaya Romero, Blanca Riveros Alarcón and José Antonio Cantoral Benavides.

The action was directly commanded by the dome of Evo Morales government and executed by the Special Cases Investigation Group (GICE) and the Special Force of Fight Against the Crime (FELCC) of El Alto city. The director of FELCC, Roberto Campos, said the activists “were apprehended in circumstances in which they were making pamphleteering” with lines against the gasolinazo (the policy to higher the price of gas) and the transnationals in Bolivia, and these pamphlets were addressed to the academic community of Popular University of El Alto – UPEA (El Mundo, 02/08/2011). The Morales’ Government Minister itself, Sacha Llorenti, said they “worked preparing pamphlets against Bolivian government and recruiting persons to give classes”, and that they would have linkages with the Shining Path, as it’s called the Communist Party of Peru (Maoist)

Representatives of the government said still that 3 between the activists would be sumarily expelled from Bolivia to Peru, and the National Comission on Refugees (Conare) would make an emergence meeting to face the case of José Antonio Cantoral Benavides, which has officialy recognized refugee status. Continue reading

Guarani, Tapiete peoples fight gas exploration in Bolivia

Guarani at a rally supporting Evo Morales' presidential campaign in 2008. Since then, the Guarani and other indigenous groups have developed increasingly sharp differences with the Morales government's strategy of prioritizing oil exploration and exports over protection of their land..

By Franz Chávez

 

LA PAZ, (IPS) – The explosive charges utilised in fossil fuel exploration in Bolivia’s Chaco region divert underground water flows, scare off wildlife and harm the environment, charge the leaders of local indigenous Guaraní communities, which have been blocking access routes to keep oil company employees from entering the area.

The notion that the government, led by President Evo Morales (who is of indigenous Aymara descent), is protecting the indigenous peoples of south- eastern Bolivia “is just words, the same as the discourse about defending Mother Earth,” Jorge Mendoza, head of natural resources for the Guaraní- Tapieté Council of Captains, told IPS.

The Council brings together the leaders, or captains, of the Guaraní and Tapieté communities, which in Yacuiba alone, 1,315 kilometres southeast of La Paz, number around 3,000 members.

On May 20 the leaders declared a pause in the blockade of the international highway that connects the city of Yacuiba to Argentina, and agreed to a dialogue with the Energy Ministry, but they have yet to reach an agreement. The sporadic blockades and clashes with the police began May 14, involving some 200 people from 47 communities.

With the failure of previous negotiations, the leaders of the native groups who live in areas rich in petroleum and natural gas in the Gran Chaco province, in the department of Tarija, resolved to seek direct dialogue with President Morales.

Tarija has reserves of 41.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 80 percent of the country’s total. Most of this fuel is exported to Brazil and Argentina. Continue reading