Bolivia reaches agreement with Amazon protesters on highway project

Oct 24, 2011 12:00 AM

The Bolivian government and representatives of Amazon native protesters reached an agreement ending two months of protests that have eroded support for President Evo Morales.
Morales announced he was scrapping a hugely controversial plan to build a highway through an Amazon ecological reserve that triggered widespread protests -- but the protesters had 15 other demands they wanted addressed.

Communications Minister Ivan Canelas announced that a deal had been reached on all the protester demands following marathon negotiations. The lengthy talks allowed "all points to be resolved, with deadlines for them to be fulfilled," added Fernando Vargas, a leader of the Amazon indigenous protesters.
The Brazil-financed road project was to form part of a network linking land-locked Bolivia to both the Pacific through Chile and the Atlantic through Brazil.

Some 2,000 protesters, who set out in August and trekked 600 km (370 miles) to La Paz, were met as heroes as they entered the city in the high Andes and made their way to camp out near the presidential palace.
About 50,000 people from three different native groups live in the remote Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) in the humid Amazon lowlands. About 100 Amazon protesters remain camped in La Paz waiting for Congress to approve an amendment sent by Morales to end the highway project.

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