Activists speak out on charges against Bolivian leaders critical of big dam projects

Media Release
July 12, 2017

SolónWashington, D.C. – Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the U.S. advocacy organization Food & Water Watch, sent a letter today to Bolivian President Evo Morales to express their concern over the Bolivian government’s prosecution of Pablo Solón and Rafael Archondo, who are reportedly facing charges related to their tenure as Bolivian ambassadors to the United Nations. Both Solón and Archondo have been vocal opponents of two hydroelectric projects currently under development in the country.

“We both know and have worked with Solón and Archondo in their UN capacity, and can assure you they were greatly respected internationally. As Senior Advisor on Water to Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the 63rd President of the UN General Assembly, I (Maude) worked very closely both with you, President Morales, and Pablo Solón to successfully obtain a UN General Assembly resolution guaranteeing the human right to water and sanitation. I believe this would not have happened without Solón’s leadership,” says the letter.

Focus on the Global South reports that Solón and Archondo are facing four years imprisonment on charges that as UN ambassador, Solón illegally appointed Archondo and that Archondo committed the crime of “prolonging functions.” Both the accused have publicly responded, showing that Archondo was appointed by the President of Bolivia as Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN and that he did not prolong in his functions. Solón has stated that the charges come as no surprise, given his criticism of the two projects.

“We are wondering, as are many others, if the charges have more to do with the opposition these activists have to the two proposed dams, El Bala and El Chapete in the Amazonian region, about which we have grave concerns,” wrote Barlow and Hauter in the letter. “We are writing to beseech you to drop these charges against two highly respected environmentalists, academics and journalists.”

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Contact:

Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson, The Council of Canadians, mbarlow@canadians.org

Marcela Olivera, Latin America Coordinator, Food & Water Watch, molivera@fwwatch.org,
Tel: 1-805-895-6480 (U.S.); +591 722 20216 (Bolivia)