It’s mostly a coincidence of timing, but I came across news about these protests in Bolivia. It’s a good chance to look a bit at one of those parts of the planet from which we hear so little reporting.
Here are some English-language links:
Indigenous Bolivians march against Amazon road
Rainforest Road Will Have Environmental and Cultural Impacts
Bolivia: Marching for Land Rights, Dignity and Social Change
Evading indigenous consultation in Bolivia
Indigenous Protests Oppose Amazon Highway in Bolivia
I have a million things to say about this situation. I have no idea if this is a good or bad road. I don’t know if it will be the nightmare of death and destruction currently predicted, or whether it will turn out pretty well, like the similar road across Peru (my article about my trip down that road in March is here). If you want to read what the local activists say in their own words, click here and read. You do speak Spanish, right?
Just a few things to keep in mind as you read. The sitation is always more complex than it looks. A single household may see gains and losses from a project like this, so imagine how complex it gets when entire communities and ecosystems are doing the cost-benefit analysis. That said, it wouldn’t hurt to have such analysis. These IIRSA roads have been quite impressive in that from all I can tell, they are getting built with very little analysis to ensure that they minimize environmental and social disruption. Several people, including those who favor the road, told me that the Peru road was built without any environmental impact analysis. That shouldn’t be the case in the modern world. People shouldn’t have to resort to direct action in order to be heard.
Meanwhile, for those of you who would like to help the global environment, from the Amazon to the Arctic and from the basement rock to the upper atmosphere, please take part in World Car-Free Day. Motor vehicles are a place where personal changes make a real difference. Cars suck. Ride a bike.