OAS meeting in Bolivia and mobilizations toward La Paz highlight potential problems for the Bolivian government.
OAS starts summit in Cochabamba
Yesterday, delegates from the Organization of American States (OAS) kicked off a meeting to discuss food security in the Americas. This topic was chosen by Bolivia, as host country of the 42th general assembly to confront the international food crisis.
However, this was not the only topic on the agenda. A few hours prior to the beginning of the meeting, there was a general concern for the Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – CIDH). This was a concern shared not only by governmental delegations, but also by other institutions and external organizations.
The maritime conflict between Bolivia and Chile was also on top of the table. This topic emerged at the last minute, with the confirmation of the arrival of the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, to participate Monday in one of the OAS’s plenaries to present a reform to the CIDH. Correa proposes reforms to the CIDH, which he accuses of acting under the command of the United States’ interests.
Saturday, OAS secretary general José Miguel Insulza denied that an inminent reform to the CIDH was in progress and asked for the topic of food security to receive the limelight instead, as ‘our region hails the world’s largest surplus of food production. In other words, the region producing the highest quantity of food; however, it is the worst feed,’ he said.
Insulza added: ‘We have not talked about any reforms to the CIDH so much as suggesting that it be strengthened. We do not want to give the impression that any of the system’s organizations will be slashed or eliminated’.
Regarding the attendance of President Correa, Insulza admitted that within the OAS tradition it is not common for a leader to attend the general assembly. However, when this happens ‘we often give them preference when they wish to speak, therefore he will be granted a chance to do so as soon as he attends’.
IX March continues despite aggressions and internal conflicts
Last Tuesday, the IX March in defence of the TIPNIS crossed Yucumo without any reported issues, despite threats from pro-government groups which expected to thwart their advance. Afterwards, marchers set themselves in Quiquibey, in the outter rims of La Paz.
From there, indigenous leaders informed the addition of more ‘marchistas’ to the march and have turned down a request for a meeting this week by the government in the community of Gundonovia, in the Tipnis. This meeting aimed to reach an agreement on the protocol about the previous consultation in the region and to decide whether the road will go through the Beni or through other areas.
The ‘marchistas’ also confirmed that the President of the Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas (Confederation of Indigenous Peoples – CIDOB) Adolfo Chávez will not attend the meeting on May 30 organized by regional leaders.
About the announcement to start a meeting between the group of Sécure and the Tipnis to begin discussing the consultation, Bertha Bejarano, one of the indigenous leaders stated that more than 30 out of 60 corregidores from the region are marching toward La Paz and the rest decided to attend the meetings.
She stated: ‘for example, compañeros from Gundovia will not participate in the meeting with the government because their leaders are here in the march’.
Regarding the demand by some regional organizations that Chávez be sacked, Bejarano argued these were the people who elected Chávez as President of the IX March and ‘they cannot erase what they had already signed and agreed’. As for the dialogue with the government, the leader Rafael Quispe argued that ‘marchistas’ waited for talks with the government in Chaparina and now they will discard any other attempt at negotiation until they arrive in La Paz.
Mining project rejected by Mallku Khota
Last Tuesday, community people from the Potosi’s locality of Mallku Khota started a 300 km march toward La Paz against mining exploration in the region, demanding the ousting of the Canadian mining company South American Silver.
Around 250 people started the mobilization, announcing that they will rest in Llallagua. The community rejects the presence of the mining company in Mallku Khota because the government failed to consult with consulted them. The law states that the government should consult the local population to ascertain whether it agrees with mining activities in their region. Moreover, people worry about the impact that the mining activity will have on water sources.
After meeting in La Paz with that part of the community which supports the project, the government stated that indigenous people are against the project because they are being fouled by their leaders. The Minister of Mining Mario Virreira announced that the Executive will do the consultation.
The community leaders who support the mining company also oppose the march toward La Paz.
Regarding the consultation, Virreira explained that once exploration and prospection studies are finished in 2013 by the Canadian company, the consultation will be developed before the exploitation phase in the region.
The Minister stated that the social protests are caused by the misinformation spread by some leaders, particularly the Consejo Nacional de Ayllus y Markas del Qollasuyu (National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu – Conamaq). Moreover, he argued: ‘the Conamaq is misinformed. They wrote an international denunciation letter stating that there is exploitation without proper consultation. In fact, there is no exploitation, and now the project is still in its project phase. Conamaq is unknowingly rising against an issue which does not correspond to the truth’.