Indigenous people in Bolivia are marching cross-country from the lowland city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra to the judicial capital, Sucre, where the country’s Constituent Assembly is meeting. About 400 men, women and children from the tropical zone’s ethnicities, led by the Confederation of Indigenous People of Eastern Bolivia (CIDOB), launched their 608-kilometer march this weekend. CIDOB leader Adolfo Chávez said the marchers will take their demands for autonomy for indigenous peoples to the Assembly, which has been hashing out a new constitution for Bolivia since it opened in August 2006.
The march to exert pressure on the Assembly’s 255 members arises a week after a mass rally of Santa Cruz de la Sierra townspeople declared in favour of autonomy for four of Bolivia’s nine departments—but not for indigenous peoples.
The indigenous march comes shortly after the Constituent Assembly was extended to Dec. 14—although those directing its proceedings hope to have a new constitution approved by Aug. 6, which was the original deadline. (IPS, July 10)