Second march against TIPNIS road project due to start in April
[22 March 2012 update below]
19 March 2012
Dario Kenner, La Paz
Updates on Bolivia: https://twitter.com/dariokenner
Yesterday a majority of community leaders from the TIPNIS indigenous territory and national park decided to begin a march towards La Paz on 20 April to oppose a road project through their territory. This is the second time these communities will protest the road proposed by the Bolivian government led by President Evo Morales. Around 40 out of the 64 communities were represented at the meeting that President Morales was invited to but said he was unable to attend (detailed background on the TIPNIS conflict including communities for and against the road project).
The anti-road march between August and October last year began because TIPNIS communities had not been consulted prior to construction starting on the road and the signing of a contract with Brazilian company OAS in 2008. The right of indigenous peoples to prior consultation is enshrined in the Bolivian Constitution and international agreements such as ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The anti-road march made it to La Paz in October and pressured President Morales to approve a law banning a road through the TIPNIS. However, groups who do want the road, including communities inside the TIPNIS, marched between December and January and this led to President Morales passing another law but this time to begin a process of consultation. This law set a deadline of 8 May for the Bolivian state to carry out the consultation on whether the 64 TIPNIS communities want the road.
It´s not clear where the march will start on its way to La Paz but it could be from Trinidad in the Amazon or Santa Cruz in the east of Bolivia. We will know more about this march over the next week or so which could be a defining moment for the Morales government as it seeks to balance a discourse on defending Mother Earth with the hard reality of achieving development in South America´s poorest country.
More information in Spanish:
Erbol 19 March: 22 comunidades del Sécure recién definirán si irán a la IX marcha por el TIPNIS
La Razón 20 March: La IX marcha por el TIPNIS saldrá el 20 de abril próximo
Cambio 20 March: INDÍGENAS perfilan la IX marcha
Interviews with indigenous leaders on the right to prior consultation from last week here.
22 March 2012 Update:
The indigenous movement CIDOB (Confederation of Bolivian Indigenous Peoples – representing 34 nations mainly from the Amazon and Chaco regions) has announced it will hold a plenary meeting on 25 and 26 March 2012 to decide where the second march against the TIPNIS road project will leave from. At this meeting the main demands of the march (as well as rejecting any road through the TIPNIS) will be decided on. The content of these demands will be crucial to determine if this second march will receive as much support from urban areas and other movements as the first march between August and October last year. We have to wait until next Monday to have more clarity on this but for the moment the Trade Unions Congress (COB) has said it will back the march.
Below are the official conclusions of the TIPNIS community leaders meeting in Spanish.
The Bolivian government insist they will still do the prior consultation inside the TIPNIS on the road in the middle of May. According to the government conducting the prior consultation process is in line with the Bolivian Constitution and international agreements. The TIPNIS indigenous leaders who are opposed to the road say a consultation will not be prior because the road is already being built and a contract was signed with the Brazilian company OAS in 2008.