Bolivia’s Untouchable Amazon Lands At Risk

Bolivia’s Untouchable Amazon Lands At Risk.

Bolivia’s Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS), an indigenous territorial reserve home to more than 12,000 indigenous villagers, is under imminent threat from a major highway development project. Thirty-two miles of that project would tear through the heart of the TIPNIS, which  is home to three dwindling indigenous cultures — the Tsimanes, Yuracarés and Mojeño-Trinitarios. The park is also believed to be the home of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. The TIPNIS covers an area of over 4700 square miles, twice the size of Delaware. The park ecosystem is fragile and the highway project could cause widespread damage, contaminating the park’s three main rivers, opening large areas of forest to illegal logging and settlement, and altering habitats that are home to many endangered species and rare primates.

The highway development, the Villa Tunari – San Ignacio de Moxos highway, is part of a larger 182-mile trans-Amazonian highway and a priority project for President Evo Morales’ government. It is part of the Brazilian-led Initiative for the Regional Integration of South America, a vast network of 531 mega-projects including hydroelectric dams, highways, bridges, and electrical power systems. While the Bolivian government claims to have conducted a “consultation” with potentially affected communities, the consultation was marred by criticism and inconsistencies, and fell woefully short of standards for Free, Prior and Informed Consent under national and international law. Indigenous opposition to the construction of the highway has been substantial and has been met with violent repression and retaliation by the Bolivian government. Credit: EarthRights International.

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