19 Indigenous Communities Join Protest Against Road Through National Park in Bolivia

3 May 2012. Natives of the TIPNIS (Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park) have begun a 700+ kilometer march from their communities in the northern state of Beni to the city of La Paz in protest against a road the Bolivian government plans to construct through their land. Today 19 additional communities announced they will join them.

This march is being undertaken by entire families including numerous babies and children. They expect to walk for 60 days or more in order to reach the seat of government. By law, the Bolivian government must consult native communities prior to making decisions regarding infrastructure in their territories. The TIPNIS natives claim they were not consulted prior to construction of this road, which began last year. In response, the government passed a "post-consultation" law (Law No. 222). This is the 9th protest march they have undertaken against the road, which is being funded by Brazil.

The protesters are enduring hardship, lack of food, cold and rainy weather, muddy roads, river crossings, and illness including severe colds and several cases of dengue. Children and babies are affected the most. Last year, 2 children died during the march and many children and adults became ill. Often they sleep in tents along the side of the road. They depend on donations of food, medications, clothing and blankets from nearby communities and supporters in cities such as Trinidad and Santa Cruz. Last year the marchers were violently repressed by government troops.

Bolivian photographer Samy Schwartz has accompanied the march and contributed the above photographs. Read more about this protest in Spanish here. See a map of the TIPNIS here.

SOURCE: www.erbol.com.bo

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