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Bolivia: Mobilization in Support of Indigenous Marchers

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights and Forest Focus: Amazon.

After the news of the September 25 police repression of the indigenous marchers in the town of Yucumo, there was even more reactions and mobilizations in defense of the Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro Sécure and against government repression.

In the past month, the marchers have received widespread support from residents of the cities that had donated food and supplies, as well as many Twitter users using the hashtag #TIPNIS to express their support. Even the international activist organization Avaaz launched a campaign to collect 150,000 signatures in defense of the TIPNIS.

In previous weeks, two Bolivian Cabinet members, Government Minister Sacha Llorenti (@sachallorenti) and Labor Minister Walter Delgadillo (@wdelgadillot) had been utilizing their Twitter account to report on the situation from the official government position. At times, there were interactions with Bolivian Twitter users that many thought was an encouraging first step. However, in recent days they have been silent on their Twitter account, causing Annelissie Arrázola (@Annelissie) to ask [es], “where are the Twitter Ministers now to explain the violence?”.

Civil disobedience sparked

The events of Sunday night are sparking acts of civil disobedience and other forms of protests across the country. Residents of the jungle town of Rurrenabaque prevented the landing of government planes [es] that were arriving to transport the detained marchers back to their communities by occupying the airport runway. Defense Minister Cecilia Chacón presented her “irrevocable” resignation.

A group calling themselves Anonymous Bolivia (@AnonBolivia) announced a “hacktivist” campaign [es] for September 27 targeting government websites.

In addition, citizens have been regularly taking to the streets in the major cities of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and La Paz in defense of the TIPNIS, as shown in this video by Ana Rosa López (@mivozmipalabra) taken in La Paz on September 23.

After the news and images shown by the mainstream media of the police repression, there were a series of vigils and marches around the country. In Cochabamba, Juan José Olivera (@jotajotaolivera) tweeted this photo of a march that initially was prevented by the police from entering the Main Plaza of the city, but eventually did enter the square.

There were also people gathering in the San Francisco Plaza in La Paz, as seen here in these photos taken by Sonia Soruco (@sosoruco). There were also protests in the city of Pando, where indigenous protesters spoke out in defense of the march.

'Respect for Indigenous Rights. Mr. Evo Morales, Your Mask Has Fallen' Sign from protest in Pando. Photo sent to Global Voices by anonymous and used with permission.

Moises Pacheco (@mo_i_6) writes [es]:

A las calles!!!!!!!!!!!! los indígenas ya marcharon en el campo. Nuestro turno de marchar en las ciudades.

To the streets!!!!!!!!!!!! the indigenous already marched in the countryside. Now it is our turn to march in the cities.

During one march in La Paz, journalist Mery Vaca (@meryvaca) makes a mental note of the protest's composition [es]:

La marcha crece y crece a su paso por las calles de La Paz. Reconozco a muchos que hasta ayer eran evistas.

The march grows and grows through its passage through the streets of La Paz. I recognize many that up until yesterday were “evistas” (Evo Morales supporters).

The developing events is causing some uncertainty, with rumors of other Cabinet members resigning, but Mario Durán of the blog Palabras Libres [es] sees two possible outcomes after the repressive events on September 25. He writes,

El gobierno presenta ya fisuras internas… entre el circulo afin a intereses geopoliticos del Brasil y entre quienes pretenden cierta independencia.

Jugando a lector de cartas del tarot y preveer el futuro, el gobierno tiene dos caminos: i) Hacer caer todo el peso de los resultados de la represion otra vez en los hombros del presidente Morales (como sucedio en el gasolinazo). ii) Usar de fusibles a quienes hayan ordenado la represion y sancionarlos.

The government is showing internal fissures… between the circle close to the geopolitical interests of Brazil and those that claim certain independence.

Playing the role of tarot card reader and predicting the future, the government has two paths: i) Let the entire weight of the results of the repression fall once again on the shoulders of President Morales (like what happened with the gasolinazo). [authors note: government's decision to eliminate fuel subsidies that caused widespread opposition and which was reversed by Morales] ii) Blame those that ordered the repression and punish them.

Finally, blogger Pablo Andrés Rivero focused much of the blame on Minister Llorenti for the series of events [es]. Rivero recalled some of Llorenti's previous tweets that attempted to clear up any rumors, when on September 14 he said “there will be no intervention of the march. The police's sole mission is to prevent conflict.”

Las consecuencias del el amedrentamiento, del cerco policial y ahora el exceso de violencia injustificado, los gases, confrontar a mujeres, niños y marchistas cansados en el momento que recibían un plato de comida grafica plenamente sus intenciones de poder.

Lo sensato es su renuncia pero quién es uno para pedirle semejante acto de sensatez! Allá lo que usted y su gobierno deslegitimado hagan, veamos todos cómo se manifiesta el pueblo hoy.

Ahora más que nunca el TIPNIS SOMOS TODOS!

The consequences of the intimidation, the police siege, and now the unjustified violence, the tear gas, the confronting of tired women, children, and marchers at the moment of taking a plate of food fully shows your power intentions.

The most sensible thing would be your [Llorenti's] resignation, but who is one to ask for such a sensible act! What you do is up to you and your delegitimized government, let's see how the people demonstrate today.

Now more than ever, we are all TIPNIS!

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights and Forest Focus: Amazon.

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