From: upside down
Written by Marielle Cauthin, Translated by April Howard
Six indigenous women leaders and the founder of the Permanent Assembly on Human Rights in Bolivia (APDHB), in addition to 17 other main leaders, representatives and defenders of indigenous rights are forming part of the judicial investigation of the crime of “attempted homicide and serious and minor injuries” of Secretary of State David Choquehuanca, in a report presented to the ministers of Justice and Government of Bolivia.
Between August and October of 2011, hundreds of indigenous men, women and children from the high and lowlands of Bolivia, marched for 65 days as a way of protesting against the proposed highway which, at a length of 300 kilometers (186.4 miles), planned to cross the center of the Isiboro Ségure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), to unite the provinces of Cochabamba and Beni. The project is being promoted by the Bolivian Government, financed by the Brazilian Government and constructed by the Brazilian contractors OAS, with a cost of 415 million dollars. The Yuracaré, Moxeño and Chimán indigenous communities, who own the tropical territory, fought the project, arguing that the double designation of the land as both a park and a Community Land of Origen (TCO) protects the area from megaprojects. They also appealed for the recognition of their constitutional and international rights to a preliminary consultation and the right to approve or reject the proposed highway.
Threats to the Indigenous Movement
Tipnis march“We have received that news as a threat to the indigenous communities,” said Fernando Vargas, the president of the TIPNIS Union, referring to the subpoenas served to 26 people for giving their reports on crimes against humanity committed by the Secretary of State.
In the same way, various organizations like the Beni Union of Moxeño Ethnic Communities (CPEM – B) reported the control, influence and biasing of the judicial process toward the executive branch in order to intimidate and politically persecute indigenous men and women leaders and people supporting the indigenous march and defense of the TIPNIS. The Union has also maintained that the accusations and reports in the subpoenas are false and forced and that the Secretary of State should have publically clarified the actual events. Continue reading