Monday, January 30, 2012
2012-01-30 "Bolivian Indigenous March Is Advancing on the Seat of Government" from "Prensa Latina" of the Republic of Cuba
La Paz, Jan 30 (Prensa Latina) The indigenous marchers of the South Indian Council (CONISUR), which call for the construction of a road in Bolivia, are now advancing on the last leg of their journey of more than 40 days to the city of La Paz .
About 4,500 native marchers, including hundreds of children, resumed their walk from Senkata, neighboring El Alto that is about 16 miles from the seat of government, which is the goal of their journey from Isinuta, Cochabamba, from where they departed on December17.
CONISUR marchers expect to enter this afternoon the Plaza Murillo, which is the center of the country's political power to demand the annulment of the so-called Short Law of Indigenous Territory and Isiboro Secure National Park (Tipnis), which declared intangible this vast Amazon rainforest.
This rule was passed last October, when a previous march led by the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB) convinced President Evo Morales to ban the construction of roads in this nature reserve.
The Short Law then cut a route that would solve the communication with other regions and that would facilitate access to health services, education and commerce for CONISUR communities.
Marchers ask the government to continue the second leg of this road and a comprehensive development plan in that place where they live.
Social organizations such as the Regional Workers Union, the Intercultural Communities Confederation of Bolivia and the National Confederation of Indigenous Farmer Women - Bartolina Sisa also support the march.
The government of La Paz also began a campaign of humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, Minister of Government, Carlos Romero, suggested that members of CONISUR and CIDOB must reach an agreement on the construction of the road through the Amazon rainforest and was hopeful that both groups reach a favorable agreement for the 64 communities living there.
2012-01-30 "Bolivians demand controversial highway be built" from "AFP" newswire
LA PAZ — More than 2,000 Amazon Indians on Monday called on Bolivian President Evo Morales to approve the building of a highway through a nature reserve, a project scrapped last year after widespread protests.
Demonstrators rallied in the capital La Paz, some of them after a protest march of 400 kilometers (240 miles) which was backed by Morales. They planned to stage a sit-in in the city center, organizers said.
"The road means development for San Ignacio de Moxos, where we live in isolation, and development for Bolivia," David Ibanez -- who walked with his wife and young son -- told AFP.
Morales said in October he was scrapping the hugely controversial plan to build the highway, which was to be part of a network linking landlocked Bolivia to both the Pacific through Chile and the Atlantic through Brazil.
The move came after 2,000 indigenous people walked for two months from their homeland in the Amazon lowlands to La Paz to press him to cancel the project through the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS).
Planners had wanted the Brazil-financed road to run through the TIPNIS, leveling an ancestral homeland inhabited by 50,000 native people from three different native groups.
Amazon natives feared that landless Andean Quechua and Aymara people -- Bolivia's main indigenous groups and Morales supporters -- would flood into the road area and colonize their land.
Morales, the country's first elected indigenous president, had however said the 300-kilometer (186 mile) highway was vital for economic development.
His right-wing opposition has charged that the march in support of the project was orchestrated by supporters of Morales, particularly by unions of the Chapare coca growers, who have an economic interest in the highway's route.
Some demonstrators said they planned to rest after the long march.
"The altitude has affected us a little," said Hilario Malure. "We are tired, we came on foot."