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WIN! Bolivia scraps controversial highway plan

Al Jazeera English reports, “Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, has announced that he is scrapping plans to build a highway through a nature reserve in Bolivia’s jungle lowlands, bowing to public pressure after a two-month protest march by Amazon Indians.”

“Bolivia’s leftist president said he would veto a law passed last week that green-lighted the highway as originally proposed. He said he would insist it be amended to declare the reserve off limits to the highway as well as to the settlement by colonists.”

“Morales did not abandon the idea of a highway through Bolivia linking Brazil with the Pacific coast, but said on Friday it would no longer cut through the pristine Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory National Park, or TIPNIS.”

“More than 100 protesters remained camped in front of the presidential palace on Friday, two days after activists ended their trek from the Amazon reserve to La Paz, the world’s highest capital. The march galvanised opposition to the Brazilian-funded highway… After more than sixty days of walking across the country in protest of this road project, it looks like the indigenous people have gotten one major victory.”

In early-September, the Council of Canadians and the Blue Planet Project signed an open letter expressing concern to the Bolivian government given their stated plan to build the Villa Tunari-San Ignacio de Moxos highway through the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory without consulting local indigenous communities.

The letter – addressed to Morales – states, “We, the undersigned members of social movements and international civil society, are writing to express our support for the right of indigenous people to freely decide on development projects within their territories and our deep concerns about the consequences of the proposed highway through the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory.”

Other groups that signed this letter include Food and Water Watch, Food and Water Europe, International Rivers, Global Exchange, Red VIDA, Fundacion Chile Sustentable, and Focus on the Global South.

For additional background on this highway controversy in Bolivia, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10704 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10822.