Bolivia: Ninth Indigenous March called to oppose TIPNIS road

The corregidores of the Subcentral section of the Isiboro Sécure National Park Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) in Bolivia’s eastern lowlands voted March 19 to hold a new cross-country march on La Paz to oppose construction of a road through their territory. The “Ninth Indigenous March,” scheduled for April 20, will protest construction of the next phase of the highway linking Villa Tunari in Cochabamba department with San Ignacio de Moxos in Beni, as well as Law 222, passed earlier this year to facilitate indigenous “consultation” on the road project. Pedro Vare, leader of the Indigenous Peoples Central of Beni (CPIB), said meetings would be held to bring more communities into the march. The Subcentral section represents 42 of the 64 indigenous communities in the TIPNIS. Vare accused the Evo Morales government of attempting to divide the territory’s indigenous communities by distributing food, clothing, outboard motors and other gifts. (Erbol, March 19)

The controversy around last year’s cross-country march against the highway continues to hold center stage in Bolivian politics. Charges of kidnapping and attempted homicide have been brought against 26 march leaders and participants in connection with the Sept. 24 in which authorities say Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca was briefly held captive and used as a human shield by the marchers to break through police lines. Among the accused are CPIB leader Vare, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB), Adolfo Chávez; TIPNIS Subcentral leader Fernando Vargas; director of the National Council of Ayllus y Markas del Qollasuyo (CONAMAQ), Rafael Quispe; president of the March Committee, Yenny Suárez; founder of the Bolivia Permanent Assembly of Human Rights (APDHB), Amparo Carvajal; former director of the Assembly of the Guaraní People (APG), Celso Padilla; leader of the Coordinator for Water and Life, Oscar Olivera; the government’s former vice-minister for lands, Alejandro Almaraz; and Bienvenido Zacu, an indigenous member of the lower house of the Bolivia’s congress, the Camber of Deputies. (UDW, March 23; El Mercurio Digital, Spain, March 9; El Dia, Santa Cruz, March 5)

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