Appeal to Bolivian President Evo Morales: Protect the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of TIPNIS
September 21, 2011
Tensions are rising in Bolivia, between indigenous President Evo Morales and indigenous communities of the the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory, known as TIPNIS for its Spanish acronym. The Government has proposed to build a road straight through the Territory, with financing from the Brazil National Development Bank (BNDES).
Since mid-August, some 1,500 indigenous men, women, and children have been marching toward La Paz with a message: Don't destroy TIPNIS and strengthen indigenous peoples rights to self-determination. This letter, signed by 61 international organizations, is one expression of support for the march.
The latest news indicates an increase in tensions. As the march progresses, some communities in favor of the road have threatened to attack the marchers. Under the guise of protecting the rights of the indigenous protesters, the government is sending in police forces, effectively stopping the march in its tracks.
As President Morales travels to New York for the UN General Assembly, Amazon Watch is working to deliver this letter to him. Our message for Evo is: Don't damage your image as a defender of indigenous peoples and Mother Earth by engaging in a battle with grass-roots indigenous communities. Demonstrate to the world how tensions between development imperatives and indigenous rights can be resolved with full respect of those rights.
Please contact Andrew Miller, Amazon Watch's DC Advocacy Coordinator, to learn more.