Indigenous leaders who represent the Comité Técnico de la Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas de Bolivia (CIDOB) will meet with the Bolivian government today to discuss implementation of the ley corta, which cancelled construction of the controversial Villa Tunari-San Ignacio de Moxos road in the Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure (TIPNIS). In October, President Evo Morales signed the ley corta—which declares TIPNIS a protected zone where no economic project can take place—after protesters and a congressional commission failed to solve their disagreement over construction of the road.
At the meeting, it is expected that Indigenous leaders will express their fear that President Morales will modify the ley corta and not respect its original structure. Rafael Quispe, representative of the Consejo Nacional de Ayllus y Marcas del Qollasuyo (Conamaq) said Indigenous leaders will demand that President Morales and Vicepresident Álvaro García Linera step down if the ley corta is not respected. Quispe and other leaders reacted after César Navarro, the viceminister for coordination of social movements, said last week that the national government will “consider every request to modify the ley corta,” which leaves the door open to change the law. Navarro added that TIPNIS inhabitants do not represent the demands of other social groups that support building the road between the departments of Beni and Cochabamba.
The local government of Beni has designed an alternative project that would allow the road to be built without undermining the Amazonian territory’s environmental and social integrity. “The proposal suggests building the road around the TIPNIS,” said Yanine Añez, senator of Convergencia Nacional.
The Brazilian government—the main financial source of the project—has argued through its Ambassador in La Paz, Marcel Biato, that “it is in our [Brazil’s] interest to find an alternative that accommodates political, developmental, and environmental concerns.”