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Between socio-environmental issues and political issues

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Monday, 19th November 2012


TIPNIS: Between socio-environmental issues and political issues.

Do the economic and geo-strategic interests can respect the preservation of protected areas and the indigenous rights?




• Presentation of Bolivia

• Introduction of TIPNIS

I. Social and political trends of Bolivia. P 5 & 6

1. Bolivia on the international scene.

2. Bolivia's new political landscape.

3. The social and cultural circumstances.

II. The TIPNIS perspectives. P 7 & 8

1. Political focus.

2. Economic focus.

3. Geostrategic focus.

III. The TIPNIS question. P 9, 10 & 11

1. Environmental consequences.

2. Traditional issues, respect of social rights and the native people's will.

3. “Coca business” and Narco-traffic.



 ANNEXES P14 & 15

Presentation of Bolivia

Bolivia or Republic of Bolivia is, with Paraguay, one of two countries of the South American continent to have no access to the sea. Bolivia is located in Central South America. The area covers around 1,098,581 square kilometers. Bolivia has several border countries like: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru. The climate varies in altitude ; sometimes it’s humid and tropical to cold and semiarid. The highest point is “Nevado Sajama” at 6,542 meters high.

Natural resources are really rich ; the floor contains tin, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, tungsten, antimony, silver, iron, lead, gold, timber, hydropower.

We can find around four major ethnics groups living in Bolivia ; Quechua 30%, Mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, Aymara 25%, White 15%.

About the religion, there are Roman Catholic at 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist) at 5%.

Bolivia became independent from Spain on the 6th of August 1825 so, the official language is Spanish. The number of inhabitants is 10,290,003 millions. The major city and also the capital is La Paz with 1.642 million inhabitants, Bolivia is a republic (the new constitution defines Bolivia as a "Social Unitarian State")

Introduction of TIPNIS

Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) is a protected area and Native Community Land in Bolivia located between the north of the Cochabamba Department and the south of the Beni Department (Chapare, Moxos, and Marbán provinces). It protects part of the Bolivian Yungas ecoregion.

The indigenous people living within the park belong to the Yuki, Yuracaré, and Mojeño-Trinitario ethnies. The southern portion of the park has been colonized by agricultural settlers, primarily coca farmers, since the 70’s. The “Tipnis project” was born in the same time that Evo Morales’s first election in 2005. This region of Bolivia, doubly protected under the Bolivian constitution and environmental laws, is under threat, due to a proposed road that would cut straight across it, joining the Chapare region of Cochabamba (Bolivia's primary coca growing region) with a small town in the state of Beni called San Ignacio de Moxos.

There are two opposite point of views; Natives of the TIPNIS claim the road will destroy their standard of living and open their protected area and the national park to destruction by coca growers and other types of colonists. But, the Bolivian government claims the road is necessary for Bolivia's development. There are many debates about this project all over the world. The building of this road is funded by Brazil.

Does the economic and geo-strategic interests can respect the preservation protected of areas and the indigenous people rights ?

Bolivia is a unitarian and parliamentary republic with a strong influence from the president of the State on the political system. On January 26th 2009, Bolivians approved by referendum in approximately 60 % of the votes, a new constitution which grants more rights for the native populations, strengthens the power of the State in economic subject and guarantees for the first time the separation of the Church and the State.

The differents powers

The executive power is around the president of the State. He is at the same time a Head of State and the Government. The president is elected in the first tour by direct vote or in second ballot by the Congress between both candidates having received most votes if none obtains the absolute majority.

It consists of two chambers, the Chamber of deputies and the Senate, which are together the national Congress.

Politicals parties

The Bolivian political spectrum today consists of three important political parties and several rather short-lived political organizations. These three parties are the social democratic Power (social Poder democrático (PODEMOS)), conservative, National Unity (UN), center right and the Movement in the socialism (MAS) of left indigenous, being the latter the party of president Evo Morales.

All these movements are very recent. Until 2003 and during all the democratic period introduced in 1982 the most important parties were the revolutionary nationalist Movement (MNR) of very eclectic


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