Update on TIPNIS indigenous people whereabouts

As indigenous people are going back home, yesterday a group of them were beaten and assaulted, they lost the gifts that they received from the people during their protest walk, especially during their stay in La Paz city. With tears in their eyes, they accused people they believe were coca growers. I hope those alleged violent thieves get caught as Bolivia does not need such violent provocations.

Fortunately, most who went by road and place arrived Trinidad and other places without problems. The group of 300 that remained in La Paz, until the law is passed, had the disjunctive of what to do to the large amount of donations they received, yesterday they were offered by the heavy transport association, free of charge, two large trucks to carry all their belongings back home.

The cartoon on the left is from La Razon, October 28, 2011. What is now perceived as a “white elephant gift” has begun to raise polemical discussions. The concept of “intangible” as to what it represents, whether to its extent, its limitations on indigenous people and the use of the natural resources. In the cartoon, the word intangible appears as a barrier and an illegal logger with a chainsaw shouting “so, don’t even pick up flowers, nor nothing!” as the people are going inside with pride and joy.

Personally, I believe that what is considered their territory, in other parts is called ANMI, the natural area of integrated management was given to the people living in the area, and as such should be their call to engage in any activity. If the government authorizes the exploitation of a natural resource (hydrocarbon, mining, forestry, intensive agriculture), then it could be done on a sustainable way, as long as those activities are needed for the well being of those indigenous people.

However, if there would be such intention inside the National Park or biosphere then the intangible concept should be enforced. That is, no economical activity should be started inside theses protected areas.

It is hard to believe that this concept may have been “imposed” as a result of a dark vendetta by the government. Maybe it was used as a deterrent to those coca growers and illicit activity people who are or wanted to be inside the TIPNIS, since the government could not enforce its will to have the road cut in half this park. Maybe it was used as an honest attempt to amend their bad actions (verbal and physical aggressions the indigenous people had to endure) and/or want to clear their consciences.

Such reason does not really matter, what matters is assaults like the one that happened yesterday should stop and the law should be enforced. Whoever was or wanted to be inside the red line, shouldn’t.

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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