While President Evo Morales decrees that Bolivia’s TIPNIS conflict is resolved, conflicting reports issued by the government and religious and human rights groups over the past few weeks have served to extend the controversy over the proposed highway that would bisect this indigenous territory and national park in the Amazon lowlands.
The Bolivian government’s controversial consultation process in the TIPNIS indigenous territory has concluded. Were the results a triumph for participatory democracy, or a foregone conclusion from a government determined to build a highway through the national park?
As the Bolivian government launches its controversial consultation process on the TIPNIS highway, affected communities are responding with a creative range of tactics—some in support, and others in resistance—attesting to the deep divisions the process has created.
Following a two-week vigil in La Paz, frustrated lowland indigenous marchers protesting the Bolivian government's plan to build a highway through the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) have decided to return to their native communities. The marchers have pledged to resist the government's proposed consultation process on the road.
In the run-up to the May-June consulta that will decide the fate of the proposed highway through the TIPNIS Indigenous Territory and National Park, the Bolivian government is signing agreements with lowland indigenous groups and seeking to cancel its contract with Brazilian company OAS to build the TIPNIS road, causing a shift in political alliances around the TIPNIS conflict.
A majority of community authorities in the TIPNIS indigenous territory and national park have announced plans for another national march, beginning April 20, to protest the government-proposed highway that would bisect their ancestral homeland. They have pledged to simultaneously resist the government-sponsored consultation process.
Lowland indigenous leaders say that the vast majority of their communities reject the Bolivian government’s proposed highway through the Isiboro-Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS). So why do these communities oppose the "prior, free, and informed" consultation process to be carried out by the government, which should allow their views to prevail?