A new law signed by President Evo Morales has officially cancelled the controversial TIPNIS highway, bowing to demands of indigenous protesters after their 360-mile cross-country march. But the fractures in Morales’ political base and divisions among Bolivia’s social movements triggered by the TIPNIS conflict will be more difficult to resolve.
This week, two historic events took place in Bolivia: the arrival in La Paz of indigenous marchers protesting the TIPNIS highway, and the country's first-ever popular judicial elections. Both sent a wake-up call to President Evo Morales.
This week the focus of Bolivia’s TIPNIS conflict shifted to La Paz, with passage of a new law by the Bolivian Congress, massive demonstrations in support of President Evo Morales, and preparations for Sunday’s judicial elections, ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of the indigenous march early next week.
A recent protest in Washington, D.C. against the TIPNIS highway in Bolivia serves as a reminder of how conservative forces are exploiting the TIPNIS conflict to undermine President Evo Morales’s leftist government. For the most part, though, the anti-highway movement is not so much against the government as it is for a recovery and revitalization of Bolivia’s “process of change.”
Bolivian President Evo Morales has argued that the United States uses the drug war to advance its own political interests and discredit political opponents. But does the Bolivian Government do the same?
In the wake of Sunday’s brutal repression of indigenous marchers against the TIPNIS highway, the past few days have brought renewed popular mobilizations, a few revelations, and more mixed messages from the Bolivian government.
Sunday’s brutal repression by federal police of lowland indigenous marchers protesting the TIPNIS highway has sparked widespread public outrage in Bolivia, while the MAS government’s response raises more questions than answers. With conservative opponents of Evo Morales also seeking to exploit the crisis, it's a critical moment for Bolivia's process of change.
While President Evo Morales was busy defending the rights of Mother Earth at the United Nations this week, Bolivia’s TIPNIS conflict escalated beyond the regional boundaries of Beni and Cochabamba into the national and international arena.
On September 11, Bolivians observed the third anniversary of the Pando massacre, a brutal attack on indigenous peasants and students in the Amazonian lowlands and the most deadly act of political violence in the country since 2003. The tragic event marked a turning point in Bolivia’s recent history, and has special relevance today for the escalating conflict over the TIPNIS highway.
Negotiations between the Bolivian government and indigenous groups protesting the proposed TIPNIS highway broke down before getting off the ground this week, while a visit from Brazil’s ex-president Lula served as a reminder of the larger geopolitical interests involved. Brazil has a major stake in the road's construction, but it also needs a stable political environment in Bolivia to advance its overall economic agenda.