Fears for isolated tribe in Bolivian rainforest

The Central of Indigenous Communities of Tacana II Rio Madre de Dios (CITRMD), representing the Tacana people of Pando department in the Bolivian Amazon has issued a letter to the ministries of Justice and Environment requesting urgent government intervention to protect "uncontacted" indigenous peoples threatened by oil operations. The CITRMD said "footprints and broken branches" among other evidence were found within the operations area of BGP, a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). September letters by BGP to Bolivia's state oil company YPFB, to which it is contracted, noting this evidence, as well as one physical encounters with "originarios." CITRMD is urging BGP and the government to respect "their wish not to be contacted." (The Guardian, Oct. 27)

The possibility of peoples in "isolation"within the zone is also noted in the environmental impact statement the company operates under, stating that they are beleived to belong to the Toromona ethnicity. The area is adjacent to Madidi National Park, on the border with Peru.

Law 527/2013 , or the Law for the Protection of Original Nations and Peoples, officially calls for the protection of "isolated" peoples, and creation of "buffer zones" around their territory. The law passed in response to language in Bolivia's new constitution mandating such protection. But the body it established to oversee the process, the General Directorate for Original Nations and Peoples (DIGEPIO) was never actually fiunded or capacitated. On Oct. 17, Los Tiempos newspaper reported the YPFB’s president, Guillermo Achá, is "denying the existence of supposed uncontacted indigenous people in Bolivia’s Amazon" and saying oil and gas operations will continue as planned.

There are believed to be some 100 peoples in isolation across the Amazon, mostly in Brazil and Peru. (The Guardian, Oct. 27; El Diario, Sept. 26; ANF, Sept. 20)