Bolivia Scraps Controversial Highway Plan: Rights of Nature upheld!

President Morales cancels plans to build highway through a nature reserve after sustained protest from Amazon Indians.

from Al Jazeera, October 22, 2011.

Protesters camp out in front of the government palace to protest against the construction of the highway [Reuters]

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, has announced that he is scrapping plans to build a highway through a nature reserve in Bolivia’s jungle lowlands, bowing to public pressure after a two-month protest march by Amazon Indians.

Morales did not abandon the idea of a highway through Bolivia linking Brazil with the Pacific coast, but said on Friday it would no longer cut through the pristine Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory National Park, or TIPNIS.

“And so the matter is resolved,” Morales told reporters. “For me, this is called governing by obeying the people.”

More than 100 protesters remained camped in front of the presidential palace on Friday, two days after activists ended their trek from the Amazon reserve to La Paz, the world’s highest capital.

The march galvanised opposition to the Brazilian-funded highway and highlighted claims that Morales-an Aymara-has favoured Bolivia’s majority Aymara and Quechua highland Indians over indigenous groups from the country’s lowland jungle.

Bolivia’s leftist president said he would veto a law passed last week that green-lighted the highway as originally proposed. He said he would insist it be amended to declare the reserve off limits to the highway as well as to the settlement by colonists.

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