Bolivia to halt construction on roadway

Indians on a protest march with flags in their hands walking up a gravel road Indigenous peoples don't want a road through the rainforest

Sep 28, 2011

Thousands of native peoples including many women and children left their homes in the Amazonian rainforest on a peaceful march to the government palace in La Paz. The reason: The construction of a road through the rainforest is endangering both wildlife and people.

Five weeks ago, thousands of native peoples including many women and children left their homes in the Amazonian rainforest on a peaceful march to the government palace in La Paz. The reason: The construction of a road through the rainforest is endangering both wildlife and people. That's why native residents want to speak to the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, in person. On September 27, 2011, they accomplished an important achievement. But they paid a high price for it.

"Due to the incidents and the national protest, I have suspended the project in TIPNIS. Let's let the people and especially those communities who have been affected in Departamentos Cochabamba and Beni decide," declared the Andean nation's head of state.

This success has been overshadowed by outbreaks of violence and at least one fatality. Over the weekend, the marching native peoples were stopped by police units. Subjected to tear gas attacks and brutal beatings, the demonstrators were driven apart with the police arresting many of them including the leader of the Indian tribes. More than 50 people were injured.

Minister of Defense Cecilia Chacón criticized the violence and resigned on Monday in protest. She called on President Morales to initiate a dialog: "I cannot support the intervention by the government and I'm not going to justify it so long as there are other alternative solutions within a framework that respects human rights. My decision is irreversible, there is no way back," her letter of resignation to the president explained. Morales has announced that a commission will be formed to investigate the incidents.

Rettet den Regenwald supports the protest march to save the tropical forest in TIPNIS. On August 20, we presented more than 20,000 signatures protesting the construction of the road to the Bolivian ambassador in Berlin.