martes, 4 de octubre de 2011

Indigenous March: “We do not believe in their apologies”

Indigenous March: “We do not believe in their apologies” 

“We’re entering the Jaspitanki territory” said an Amazon marcher, surrounded by the mist in La Cumbre community, on the way up to the Andes. They made early progress to Palos Blancos, a village in the La Paz region where some had warned them that the Eighth Indigenous March wouldn’t be well received. But several local authorities met with the marchers to guarantee them the village’s hospitality. Tomorrow they’ll continue along the 270 km path that separates them from the presidential palace, where they hope to be received by President Evo Morales and have their 16 demands heard. “No one can tolerate the hypocrisy, arrogance and flippancy of this government. We’re not going to tolerate it. We’re going to go there to demand that our rights are met. We’re going to put on pressure to make sure our rights are respected. It will have to be through pressure”, said indigenous deputy Pedro Nuni, still recovering from the blows that he and the other thousand marchers received from the police on the 25 of September in Yucumo.
“The march is injured. I’m suffering from the maltreatment we received. But in spite of that we’re walking. Courage sometimes makes the pain go away”, said Fernando Vargas Mosua from the Mojeño indigenous people and President of the Subcentral of the Isiboro Sécure National Park (TIPNIS). This is the area through which the government intends to build a road without the consent of its owners: the Chimán, Yuracaré and Mojeño peoples. This situation defined the start of the Eighth March in Trinidad, capital of the Beni region, on the 15th of August 2011.
“We’re fighting against the government so that are rights are valued. Right now the government is discriminating against the Cavineño, Tacana, EseEjja, Yaminagua, and Machineri peoples who live in the Pando region. After the police action on 25 of September when the government repressed the indigenous march we’re even more determined to march so that our voices are heard by the rest of Bolivia’s peoples”, said Elvis Mayo, a Cavineño who has come from Madre de Dios province.
“I’ve been beaten, we’ve been chased, we’ve slept a night in the hills without mosquito nets  or mattresses; without anything. But we’ve overcome it. There were ten of us who weren’t separated for a moment”, remembers Mayo.

When the march reached Palos Blancos, the majority of onlookers watched with suspicion. But nobody showed anger towards the indigenous people, as they did yesterday when they went through Inicua. “Inicua is a relatively big community of western Bolivian traders. The situation became a bit tense when we went through because they were shouting at us and making false accusations towards us. But we kept calm”, said Nuni, from the Mojeño people.
The authorities in Palos Blancos have given us guarantees that we’ll have a good stay here and that they’ll support us and accompany us at any point if there is any risk that we’ll be attacked. This support and the solidarity which always characterises the villages are important to us.That’s how we have the will and strength to keep on going” said the assembly member.

“We’re aware that these next sections of the march are going to be difficult, and that people are going to follow and harass us. They will follow us to intimidate us, question us and insult us. In the face of these situations we’re going to stay measured, calm, patient and, above all, peaceful; which is our keystone,” added the Mojeño at their camp next to the River Beni.
“The communities which we are passing through must keep their composure because this march isn’t coming to violate anyone’s rights to anything. We just want a response to our demands. That’s why our decision is to get to the city of La Paz”, said Nuni.
“The effects left by the repression are latent, not just because of the physical blows that we received, but also psychologically. Now the children get scared when they hear a bang. But little by little we’ll get over it, and put it out of our minds. We hope that we won’t be attacked again on our way to La Paz. We know that we’re going to have the support of the population in Caranavi who are supporting our movement to try and protect our territories”, said the assembly member, who then alluded to President Morales’ request for forgiveness for the police repression.

“We don’t believe their apologies. He is a stubborn president. He’s a president who still won’t relinquish his colonial mentality. He always thinks that everyone is against him. We’re not marching to destabilize the government, only to demand that our rights are respected, that they can’t be violated or negotiated”, maintained the indigenous leader.
Nuni was referring to the latest declarations by Morales against the Eighth March. The president said that a campesino leader told him that the mobilisation by the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB) and the National Counsel ofAyllus and QullasuyuMarkas (CONAMAQ) had the aim of disrupting the judicial elections taking place in two weeks. The president seems to believe this.

“We don’t want to be misinterpreted. We aren’t here to obstruct his judicial elections. That’s their responsibility. They have the ability to deal with our demands before the elections happen. There is still time for them to bring solutions. We want the government to come to us with clear, transparent and, above all, coherent proposals. That’s the only way that this can be solved. If they don’t bring us solutions before the elections, we aren’t going to demobilise because of the elections. Wherever we happen to be on the date of the elections we’ll stay camped and respect that day. But we’re not going back empty handed”, assured Nuni.
“It doesn’t really matter to us that the elections are coming up. The election on the 16th of Ocober isn’t our priority. Our priority is that territory is respected, that the road (from Villa Tunaroi to San Ignacio de Moxos) isn’t built and that if they want to build it, that they do it somewhere else. We aren’t going to stop because of the elections and we’re not going to go back to our homes without a solution seeing as this whole unpleasant problem has been caused by the state itself”,he said.

(Communication Commission for the Eighth Indigenous March)

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