Tag Archives: Indigenous People

Second March by Indigenous Groups Against Highway in Bolivia

Protesters on the first march in August 2011
Source: AP

Yesterday 300 members of various indigenous groups in Bolivia started a second march to the Bolivian capital La Paz to protest against a proposed highway that would cross a protected area. The marchers all come from the area of the Tipnis national reserve, located 600 kilometres from La Paz in the Bolivian Amazon. The first march, which started last summer, was a disaster for Evo Morales’ government. Morales chose to repress the march using police forces, which led to violent clashes. His decision led to widespread protest across the country and the resignation of two government ministers. In response to the violence,  the Central Obrera Boliviana, the largest trade union organisation in Bolivia called a general strike.

Under mounting pressure, the government canceled the project. It appeared that the march, despite the bloodshed, had been a success. After a few months, however, and several rallies supporting the project, the government rescinded on its promise and restarted the construction. The second march is significantly smaller than the first, with only 300 participants compared to 1,500 before, but it still has the possibility of causing major problems for Morales.


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Indigenous Groups Start to Collaborate Against Mega Projects

I read an interesting article today on the BBC about the way in which indigenous groups across Latin America are collaborating in order to share ideas about how to oppose projects that threaten their ways of life. The inter-ocean highway, a road that will run from the Atlantic coast through Brazil, Bolivia and Peru to the Pacific coast, has been especially important in prompting groups with common interests to cooperate. There is an interesting video about protests against the highway in Bolivia here. Various indigenous groups have meet at summits, and they are increasingly using the internet to share ideas and build links with one another. Groups have also shared ideas about how to oppose hydroelectric projects, which indigenous groups have opposed strongly in both Chile and Brazil.

The strengthening of indigenous groups can only be a good thing for democracies in Latin America that are still far from being truly representative. Their increased involvement in national and international communities should ensure that they are better represented and that their interests are properly considered by governments. However, if they truly want to be incorporated in the body politic (and some do not) then they must accept that their wishes have to be balanced against the need for better infrastructure in order to promote economic development.



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