Resignations but Bolivia´s indigenous peoples will continue TIPNIS march

27 September 2011

Dario Kenner, La Paz

Daily updates on TIPNIS conflict at Twitter: @dariokenner

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Despite President Evo Morales announcement yesterday that construction on the road that would go through the TIPNIS national park is suspended the march by Bolivia´s indigenous peoples will continue (detailed background). Will today´s resignations be enough to subdue growing protests rejecting police violence on Sunday and in support of the cause of the TIPNIS indigenous peoples?

Resignations

A few hours ago key spokesperson Interior Minister Sacha Llorenti resigned. His resignation is a clear signal of the pressure the government of President Evo Morales is under following the police repression on 25 September of the indigenous march against the plan to build a road through their autonomous territory.

This morning accusations and counter accusations were flying around about who actually gave the order to the police for the operation. Former Interior Minister Llorenti said Vice Interior Minister Marcos Farfán was responsible. But Farán immediately denied he gave the order. We still do not know where the order came from. The longer the uncertainty goes on the government loses more credibility. People want answers. Many think the order came from Llorenti and have called for his resignation since the police violence on Sunday. If it was Llorenti will there be some kind of trial?

Yesterday Defense Minister Cecilia Chacón resigned saying she did not agree with the actions of the police and could not justify or defend them. She added that these measures strengthened the ability of the right wing opposition to take advantage of the march and therefore undermine the process of change. In the last two days the National Director of Migration María René Quiroga and Roxana Liendo, General Coordinator of SISPAM in Vice Ministry of Rural Develpment have also resigned. Tonight President Morales appointed two trusted allies in Wilfredo Chávez as Interior Minister (promoted from Vice Minister of Government Coordination) and Ruben Saavedra as Defense Minister. Neither are political heavyweights.

President Evo Morales press conference

President Morales gave a short press conference during the appointment of the new ministers. He apologised for the police repression: “To those who were injured I am very sorry. There will be an investigation. What happened on Sunday was unforgivable and I condemn it”. Morales continued to justify building the road saying some communities had asked for the road and they believed this was the only way to improve their social and economic conditions. He also said that any design was suspended until prior consultation. “We will hold a consultation or referendum depending on what the people decide to do”. He said if the people who live there decide against the road their decision will be respected.

Morales also strongly criticised the media for dangerous speculation about deaths after the police intervention. He said if there had been deaths then the media should tell him names and prove it. The media (almost entirely controlled by the right-wing opposition) has indeed reported there were deaths when this has not been confirmed for example by the Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo).

In an interview immediately after the speech on Radio Erbol indigenous leader Lázaro Tacó said “For us it is not about changing one minister for another. Our priority is our demands. But the most immediate priority is finding our indigenous brothers who are missing because of the police repression”. They are most likely hiding in the jungle but they have still not been found.

In response to President Morales announcement there will be a referendum on the road through TIPNIS he said “the Constitution is clear that the prior consultation affects indigenous territories and there has to be free, prior and informed consultation to reach consent. And international norms say it has to be via representative institutions and they are the ones who are now recovering after the police violence. The government can go to speak to the grassroots when leaders are not there but they are manipulating the grassroots. The consultation has to be prior. Everyone in the country knows that the contract has already been signed”.

Indigenous peoples march in defence of TIPNIS

Indigenous peoples march in defence of TIPNIS

The march will continue

At the moment it is believed there are around 500 marchers in the town of San Borja (400 kilometres from La Paz) and another 250 marchers in Rurrenabaque. Incidentally reports on radio (Erbol, Panamericana) and TV (PAT, UNO, ATB) yesterday were that these 250 people were freed when a blockade by indigenous peoples at Rurrenabaque airport forced the Bolivian police to release them and sent the police fleeing. They had been detained between approximately 6pm on Sunday until around 8am Monday morning. However, an estimated 250 indigenous marchers are still missing, most likely hiding in the jungle after escaping the police repression.

I spoke to a leader from the National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ) called Rafael Quispe who is in San Borja. He told me despite the police violence the march would definitely continue. The date and location are still to be decided. “We need to reorganise and then carry on. The injured and missing can’t be abandoned. Mothers are without their children. We cannot confirm any deaths but if they are found dead or alive we will continue. In response to President Evo Morales speech yesterday evening he said “The President says construction of the road is temporarily suspended. This must be permanent. The Presidents offer of a referendum to decide on the road goes outside legal norms and affects rights of indigenous peoples. Consultation must be in line with the Constitution”. He ended saying “”there were human rights violations. The Interior Minister, Minister of the Presidency, Minister of Public Works and the Foreign Minister must resign”.

Unless the government comes to an agreement with the indigenous peoples they will have to let the march get to La Paz. The government will have to be extremely careful about how it handles the situation from now on. If the march does reach La Paz it could force the government to concede and change the route of the road so it does not go through TIPNIS. It would depend on how much support they received from the people of El Alto and La Paz. Tomorrow will give an indication of this because there is a national strike called. We have to see how many organisations participate and how big the marches are to see the level of support the TIPNIS march and the government have.

 SUMMARY OF TWEETS ON TUESDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 2011

dariokenner Dario Kenner

Minister of Government Sacha Llorenti has just resigned . #TIPNIS #bolivia #evomorales #indigneous Update soon

1 hour ago Favorite Reply Delete

dariokenner Dario Kenner

#indigenous #TIPNIS leader “There were human rights violations. Minister of Government, Presidency,Public Works+Foreign Minister must resign

3 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

#indigenous #TIPNIS leader “Pres #evomorales say temporary suspend road building but must be permanent.Referendum would violate Constitution

3 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

Asked #indigenous #TIPNIS leader if can confirm any deaths “No.If they are found dead or alive we will continue. Mothers R without children”

3 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

Phoned #indigenous leader 2 ask when #TIPNIS march start again “We need 2 reorganise+ then carry on. Injured and missing cant be abandoned”

3 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

#TIPNIS Gov reaction 2 growing protests across #bolivia “No reason 2 mobilise,have been resignations,any protest now has political interests

7 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

#TIPNIS Heard offrecord policemen say 2 marcher in San Borja”why do they blame us?Order came from Interior Ministry”.Stil no clear who order

7 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

#TIPNIS OAS say build 1st+3rd section road until receive #boliviaGov order 2 stop. But contract show NO exist 1,2,3 section. Only 1 project

7 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

Morning: spokesman Brazil company OAS say NO receive order yet from #bolivia #evomorales Gov 2 stop build road thru #TIPNISnational park

7 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

Confusion: who ordered #bolivia police violence against #indigenous#TIPNIS march? Vice Min Marcos Farfán says NO ordertinyurl.com/3o4u9je

8 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

Heard Vice Min of Interior+police Marcos Farfán resigned. #boliviaGov say he in charge police violence against #indigenous #TIPNISmarch

9 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

Photos of march in La Paz yesterday rejecting #bolivia police violence against #indigenous #TIPNIS march on 25 Septtinyurl.com/3busqx5

10 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

#TIPNIS Amnesty International. Bolivia: use of excessive force must be investigated t.co/D2KLTf7V #evomorales #bolivia #indigenous

10 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

#indigenous #TIPNIS march should start again today.Marchers R in San Borja+Rurrenabaque+still hiding jungle. R deciding how+where 2 continue

10 hours ago

dariokenner Dario Kenner

26 September Update on #indigneous #TIPNIS march in #boliviaincluding a summary of #evomorales press conferencetinyurl.com/64oc94c

Comments
2 Responses to “Resignations but Bolivia´s indigenous peoples will continue TIPNIS march”
  1. Kepa Artaraz says:

    Mr Dario…I thought there might be something like this from you…thank your keeping us informed.They say Bolivia is not for beginners…how are you finding it? Send us an email sometime.

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  1. […] 26-27, 2011:  As the pressure mounts, three top government officials resign. Morales denies that he called in the police on September 25, but neither is anyone else willing to […]



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