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Bolivian protest in support of controversial Amazon road

31st January 2012

Hundreds of protesters, marching in support of a new road through the Amazon basin arrived in La Paz yesterday

The road was cancelled last year by President Morales following protests from the indigenous people from the Tipnis reserve that the road would cut through. Linking Villa Tunari and San Ignacio de Moxos approximately 280km to the north, the road would loop through the reserve.

Whilst the indigenous people protesting say the road would destroy their rainforest home, supporters say the road is needed to bring much needed economic development to the Bolivian Amazon.

The march that arrived in La Paz yesterday marched for more than 40 days from their home communities to demand the government reversed their earlier decision and restarted work on the road.

Protester David Ibanez told the AFP news agency “the road means development for San Ignacio de Moxos, where we live in isolation, and development for Bolivia”

However, some of those backing the road are coca-growers who have been accused of backing the road project in the hope of occupying new lands in the Tipnis reserve to grow coca – the raw material for cocaine.

Whether the road goes ahead or not, there will be losers, on one side the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people of the Tipnis reserve, or the people of communities in desperate need of economic growth.

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