Native protests in Bolivia violently repressed by police

A native Bolivian from the Isiboro Secure indigenous territory and national park, known by its Spanish acronym TIPNIS, clashes with police as he and dozens of others break away from police custody to block the airport runway as they were being forced to board a plane and return towards their homeland in Rurrenbaque September 26, 2011. The natives were in the middle of a 370-mile (595-km) protest march from Trinidad in the northern lowlands to the government seat in La Paz, against a projected 185-mile (298-km) long highway that bisects the TIPNIS, when President Evo Morales ordered police to intervene and stop the march on Sunday. A large group of dozens of protesters managed on Monday to break away from police custody at Rurrenbaque airport and block the runway with burning wood and tires as they repelled attempts by the police to contain them. (REUTERS/David Mercado)


A Boing Boing reader from Bolivia who requests anonymity for security reasons says,

I write to you with heavy heart after the events that Bolivia, my home country, has endured in the last two days.

Yesterday, a forty-one day indigenous protest was violently repressed by the Bolivian police. The protest demanded that the Bolivian Government stop construction of a highway that would literally sever the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) in two, causing dire consequences for the indigenous nations living in the park and also the integrity of the ecosystems within it.

The protest was guaranteed by the rights and safeguards in our new constitution, a document that was championed by the current Morales administration, a staunch defender of mother earth in the international arena with a very disappointing record of protecting her domestically.

I am not an environmental expert, I am just a concerned Boliviano that feels the need to speak up against something that is happening right now in my country that I feel is profoundly unjust.

I have prepared a small video and audio roundup of Bolivian news outlets that reported on the operation by the police. I have also included an article from a daily in La Paz called Pagina Siete with the list of missing persons and the english articles on the operation published by AFP and AP. Press cameras were seized by the police, so there was very little visual material that I could find.


An indigenous person participates in a protest against the construction of the Villa Tunari - San Ignacio de Moxos highway, in La Paz September 26, 2011. The 185-mile (298-km) long highway will bisect a protected park in the Isiboro Secure Territory, known by its Spanish acronym TIPNIS, in the Amazon forest. The protest was also held against the riot policemen for breaking up a month-long protest by indigenous people in Yucumo. (REUTERS/Gaston Brito)

9/25/11 – Bolivian Police Operation that detained the indigenous protesters near Yucumo (video link).

9/25/11 – Bolivian Police Operation that detained the indigenous protesters near Yucumo/ Bolivian Police seizes a video camera from the press/ Kid being taken into an ambulance. (video link)

9/25/11 – Testimony of an indigenous woman on a toddler that was left alone in the jungle by the Bolivian police after the operation/ Testimony of an indigenous woman on who was detained by the Bolivian Police. (video link)

9/26/11 – Indigenous protesters detained in the vicinity of the Rurrenabaque Airport/ Seizure of the Airport by the citizens of Rurrenabaque/ Police repression (video link)

9/26/11 – Seizure of the Riberalta Airport/ The video appears to be from the Rurrenabaque Airport but the audio corresponds to a telephone interview with Juan Carlos Ascarrunz, a civic leader of Rieralta. (video link)

9/26/11 – Bolivian Police detains and beats physicians that treated protesters after the police operation. Audio of the interview at the end of the page (news story)

9/26/11 – Baby is killed due to the inhalation of tear gas/ list of missing persons (news story)

9/26/11 – AFP Story

9/26/11 - AP Story

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