Indigenous peoples from the high and lowlands of Bolivia are banding together to strengthen the defense of their territories and protected areas

More than 200 indigenous people from the high and lowlands of Bolivia recently met in the city of Peñas in the Oruro department to consolidate a unity and strategy to defend their territories and the country’s protected areas.

They met and side by side indigenous leaders from eight departments shared their experiences of the problems their peoples are going through and facing.

It was the “III Congress of Integration for the Defense of Life and Territory”, at which the “critical situation of the rights as nations and indigenous peasant peoples as well as the protected areas of Bolivia was analyzed”, declared the National Coordinator for the Defense of Indigenous Farming Areas and Protected Areas Bolivia (Contiocap).

“We were 287 defenders and defenders of territories and protected areas who met to share our experiences, experiences and approaches to counter these threats from deforestation and extractivism and thus to seek common strategies in the face of this imbalance,” he told ANF the indigenous leader and representative of Contiocap, Ruth Alipaz.

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There were three days of socialization, analysis and debate about the effects that indigenous territories and protected areas of the high and lowlands of Bolivia are currently experiencing.

Male and female representatives came from the regions of La Paz, Oruro, Potosí, Beni, Pando, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca and Tarija.

Mining projects and activities such as mining, hydrocarbons, hydropower, monoculture, and submission are the current problems faced by these peoples that have led to the definition of a common demand and defense strategy.

“All of this is already causing irreversible damage to the territories because there are regions that are running out of water and this is extremely worrying and there is an urgent need to lead this joint defense,” added Alipaz.

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The importance of self-determination, autonomy, self-government, indigenous justice and the political and social representation of indigenous peoples was also analyzed.

Following this analysis, a statement focusing on the unity of the indigenous peoples of the low and highlands of the country was consolidated to denounce the violation of their rights, the damage to protected areas and the “destruction of natural and cultural” heritage of the Bolivian peoples ”.

They oppose any plans that encourage deforestation and permanent burning in their territories. She is also calling for the state to have better access to information about the plans.

And at the same time, this congress defined “calling on civil society to start a public, serious and in-depth debate in order to find viable economic alternatives that will become the alternative to the prevailing extractivist model in our country”.

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