Dario Kenner, La Paz
The debate about the Bolivian governments plan to build a road through a national park and autonomous indigenous territory rumbles on. There was a march of a few thousand today through central La Paz in support of the road and in defense of President Evo Morales and the “process of change”. The march was small compared to the 10,000 who protested on Wednesday 28 September. Today Morales speculated that maybe the march by indigenous movements CIDOB and CONAMAQ could be linked to an attempt to undermine historic judicial elections on 16 October. He also said the right wing opposition were using the media and making up lies because they could not accept an indigenous President. Meanwhile the marchers, who were repressed by police on Sunday 25 September are gathering in Quiquibey to then set off towards La Paz, probably tomorrow. They reject any link with the judicial elections and say their march is to defend their rights and ancestral territories.
They will go from Quiquibey which on the road towards La Paz is after Yucumo and before Caranavi. It is crucial the march starts after Yucumo because this is where a social movement of migrant settlers (colonizadores) blockaded the road for over two weeks to stop the indigneous TIPNIS march from advancing. It will be interesting to see what happens once the march gets to Caranavi because there is talk of there being division there amonst the colonizadores social movement with some saying they will blockade and others who want the march to pass through to La Paz.
I was told this by a leader of the colonizadores yesterday who would prefer not to be named. While these are his personal comments and are not on behalf of the social movement he represents some of them are illuminating: “It is getting very politicised. In Beni we know it is the opposition who support the march. There have been nine attempts at dialogue. The government has committed mistakes. Evo has not been sincere and has not told the truth. 90% of the ministers will go. I think it was García Linera (Bolivian Vice President) who gave the order for the police repression”
“The indigenous march affected us with 5 of their demands. They did not want to listen to us at all. We said to them you cant decide for us on these issues but they didn’t want to know. We spoke with the Foreign Minister and told him about the 5 demands that affect us”
“The question we ask is why do the indigenous peoples have so much land and so few families? We have 50 hectares per family. I have four children, what will I do? Many government controlled lands have been given out but the National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INRA) has done a bad distirubtion of land”. Unequal land distribution is a serious problem in Bolivia and is leading to tensions between colonizadores and indigenous peoples who have obtained collective land titles for their territories. Background here