21 October 2011
Dario Kenner, La Paz
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In a press conference this morning President Evo Morales said the road project his government has been determined to build will not go through the TIPNIS national park and indigenous territory. This is a dramatic change in policy. It comes after a two month long march by indigenous movements against the planned road that arrived in La Paz two days ago.
President Morales said he would modify a law approved in the Plurinational Assembly last week to include a section stating that this road will not go through the TIPNIS. The version of the law presented by Morales in his press conference will now be discussed in the Plurinational Assembly for its approval.
The main leaders of the indigneous march such as Fernando Vargas (TIPNIS Subcentral) and Adolfo Chávez (President of the CIDOB) welcomed the news and said they need to speak with the President and will wait for the law to be approved. They also commented that they will stay in the Plaza Murillo until their platform of 16 demands is resolved. They are due to meet with President Morales in the Presidential Palace at 12pm.
Since the indigenous march in defense of TIPNIS began the conflict has escalated and engufled Bolivia in an acute political crisis. There will likely be many ramifications including for indigenous peoples´right to prior consultation as the TIPNIS case will set a precedent for other development projects in indigneous territories. President Morales said this issue is now resolved and that he is obeying the people. But it will take time to fully understand the impact the TIPNIS conflict has had. There are also outstanding issues such as justice for the police repression of the marchers on 25 September. It is likely the initial results of the judicial elections on 16 October also contributed to the government´s decision.