Solidarity with Bolivia – Indigenous peoples demonstrate against road through the rainforest

Indigenous peoples don't want a road through the rainforest
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End of campaign: May 20, 2014

In Bolivia, the construction of a road cutting straight through the TIPNIS rainforest national park and Indian reservation has begun. The goal is to connect the Amazonian region with the ports of the Pacific Ocean via the new traffic route to facilitate the export of raw materials. The road will destroy the forest and the TIPNIS area that is home to indigenous peoples. The Indians are seeking to stop the project by marching to the capital city of Bolivia, La Paz. They are asking for international support.

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The Bolivian president Evo Morales and his counterpart in Brazil at the time, Lula da Silva, agreed to build the road in 2009. The route runs straight through the Territorio Indígena Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure (TIPNIS) Indian reservation and national park. The area is located east of the Bolivian capital on the edge of the Amazon rainforest.

Last year, the native peoples were able to delay the project for one year. Rettet den Regenwald participated in that protest as well. But now, the first third of the street has been approved, and a couple weeks ago, construction began. The road will destroy the forest and the TIPNIS area that is home to indigenous peoples.

The protest march of the local people to La Paz will start on August 2nd, 2011. Three different tribes will be protesting the route, which will cut through their territory or "big house" as they refer to it. Furthermore, they explain that they have no other option and have been forced to resist.

Additional Information

The indigenous peoples are calling on all domestic and international human rights organizations to stand with them in solidarity. Please support the people of Bolivia and write to the Bolivian president, Evo Morales. We will be presenting the signatures to the Bolivian ambassador in Berlin soon.

Back­ground

TIPNIS is a virgin forest with a diverse ecosystem situated between the Tropical Andes and the Amazon Basin. In addition to its inestimable biodiversity, this area is also the home of the Moxos, Yuracaré, and Chimanes indigenous peoples. They have had to fight for many years for their land rights to finally be recognized in 1990 by the government.

But their proclamations and resolutions against the construction of the new road were never heeded by the government.  Scientific studies prove how entire rainforest regions are plundered and clear-cut as a consequence of road construction. Satellite images of Amazonia show this very clearly. The new road between Villa Tunari and San Ignacio de Moxos will not only aid in exploiting the rich resources of Amazonian Bolivia. It is also intended to connect the Brazilian provinces of Rondonia and Mato Grosso with the harbours on Chile's Pacific coast. Brazil exports soy, aluminium, wood, iron, and cellulose.

The construction costs are estimated at 415 million US dollars. The Brazilian development bank BNDES is issuing a loan in the amount of USD 332 million. The rest is slated to come from the Beni and Cochabamba provinces of Bolivia. A Brazilian company received the contract to build the road.

The project is part of the "Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America," or IIRSA. This project includes plans for the construction of roads, airports, hydroelectric power plants, and canals as well as projects in the energy and communication sectors. The government of Brazil alone is planning more than 60 megaprojects in the Brazilian Amazon and is financing six on Peru's Amazonian lands all with the help of its central bank.

Letter

To
Mr. Evo Morales, President of Bolivia
c/o Bolivian Embassy
Wichmannstrasse 6
10787 Berlin, Germany
Tel.: +49 (30) 263915-0; Fax: +49 (30) 263915-15
correo@presidencia.gob.bo

Dr. Mr. President Evo Morales,

I'm very concerned about the construction of the road between Villa Tunari and San Ignacio de Moxos. This will cut across the Territorio Indígena Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure (TIPNIS) reserve and destroy the livelihoods of its residents.

The people living in the TIPNIS have reported that the rights of the indigenous peoples, the conservation of biodiversity and the environment, and international contracts and agreements have been disregarded by their government.

For these reasons, I support the campaign to defend TIPNIS and declare my solidarity with the march of the indigenous peoples to La Paz to protest against the road.

Together with the indigenous peoples, I request you immediately halt construction of the road. I implore you to obey the law and protect TIPNIS. I furthermore request you take urgent action against the invasion of illegal coca plantations within the region.

The resolution issued by the indigenous peoples during their 29th conference on May 18th must be adhered to. This resolution "overwhelmingly and non-negotiably rejects" the plan to build the road.

Please also stop the environmental evaluation of TIPNIS by the National Service for Protected Areas that is occurring without consulting the indigenous peoples.

Please hear out the legitimate concerns of the indigenous peoples and look for an alternative route outside of TIPNIS.

Mr. President, please help save Mother Earth. You have the authority and the understanding to do so. Have no part in current and future generations of Bolivians being forced to explain how Brazilian interests and limitless greed caused unique plant and animal species to be extinguished for eternity.

Respectfully,

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