Catholic Church leaders in Bolivia are opposing a controversial new law that strips protection from a national park and indigenous territory.
The measure signed into law by President Evo Morales in mid-August opens the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory, known as TIPNIS for its Spanish initials, to highway construction and other development.
“The government doesn’t listen to the people, especially not indigenous people,” Bishop Eugenio Coter of Pando, an Amazonian region in northern Bolivia, told Catholic News Service.
“Knowing that the indigenous people of TIPNIS have expressed their opposition to this highway, the government is imposing its will on the people who live in the territory,” said Bishop Coter, Bolivian coordinator of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network.
In 2011, indigenous people from the territory staged a two-month protest march to La Paz to stop plans to build a highway through the protected area to link the towns of Villa Tunari, in the department of Cochabamba, and San Ignacio de Moxos, in the department of Beni.
Picture: Isiboro Secure National Park is seen in this 2012 file photo. (CNS photo/Martin Alipaz, EPA).