Bolivia: Aymara communities occupy Oruro mine

The comunarios (communal peasants) of Marka La Joya, on the morning of Aug. 21 initiated an occupation of the installations of the Inti Raymi Mining Company at La Titina, outside the Altiplano city of Oruro, in protest of the pollution of local water sources with cyanide and other toxins. Traditional Aymara authorities of the ayllus (agricultural communities) of Jach'a Carangas, Jakisa, Sura and Uru, which together constitute  Marka La Joya, charged that the government of President Evo Morales and the Plurinational Legislative Assembly are making laws that favor the mineral industry, without the involvement of indigenous communities impacted by mining projects. "We view with profound concern...that the government, through the corresponding ministries, has drawn up—without consultation—the projects of the Mining Laws, the Rights of Mother Earth, Water, Prior Consultation...without the participation of social sectors, and especially of the indigenous nations and original peoples," the statement read. (OCMAL, OIDEC, Aug. 21; La Opinón, Cochabamba, Aug. 20)

Andean indigenous movements meet in Colombia

Construction of a "new paradigm" for a "sustainable civilization" to uphold the principle of "buen vivir" (good life) was one of the resolutions to emerge from the Third Congress of the Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI), held July 15-7 at Chinauta in Colombia's central Cundinamarca department. Presided over by CAOI's director Miguel Palacín Quispe of Peru, the meeting brought together leaders of four member organizations: the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), the Confederation of Kichwa Peoples of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI), Peru's National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining (CONACAMI) and Bolivia's National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ). The closing statement charged that "in the Andean Region and all the continent, States, whether openly neoliberal, 'alternative' or 'progressive,' persist in application of a neoliberal extractive model, that undermines the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, plunders the natural resources, and defiles Mother Earth..." (Servindi, Aug. 1; CONAMAQ, July 26)

Bolivia: judicial crisis over Amazon road project

Bolivia's Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (TCP), the nation's highest court, has called as a body for a sitting justice to resign following his statements accusing the executive branch of interfering in a case concerning prior consultation with indigenous peoples on the disputed highway to be built through the Isiboro Sécure National Park Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS). TCP president Ruddy Flores issued the statement calling for resignation of magistrate Gualberto Cusi, a traditional Aymara leader from Ingavi province, La Paz department. The TCP officially refuted statements by Cusi that Justice Minister Cecilia Ayllón and ruling-party lawmaker Héctor Arce had put pressure on the court. The statement warned that charges could be brought against Cusi over his "defamations." (Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, Aug. 15; La Razón, La Paz, Los Tiempos, Aug. 14; Gualberto Cusi Mamani website)

Bolivia: coca production down, cocaine production up?

The US government has determined that Bolivia now has fewer coca plantations but it is producing more cocaine because traffickers are using a more "efficient" process known as the "Colombian method," according to an interview with a diplomat in La Paz daily Pagina Siete. Said John Creamer, outgoing charge d'affaires at the US diplomatic mission in La Paz: "That is the paradox in Bolivia. There are fewer coca plantations in the past three years, but there's more production of cocaine." Creamer said that using the new process, producers "can obtain more cocaine with lesser quantities of coca leaves." He also warned of the "resowing" of eradicated coca fields. The Bolivian government boasts that it reduced coca leaf production for three consecutive years from 2009 to 2011, but according to UN figures overall coca production increased from 25,400 hectares in 2006 when Evo Morales took power to 31,000 hectares in 2010 (the last year for which the UN has data). Bolivian law allows the legal cultivation of just 12,000 hectares of coca for traditional purposes.

Evo Morales: Maya calendar portends end of Coca-Cola... and capitalism

The government of President Evo Morales announced July 17 that it will invite heads of state and indigenous leaders from around the world to Bolivia on Dec. 21, South America's summer solstice, believing that this day will mark "the end" of capitalism and Coca-Cola, and the beginning of a time "of love" and a "culture of life." Exterior Minister David Choquehuanca, who made the announcement, said the date was chosen because it marks the "end of the Maya calendar," and a ceremony will be held, to be presided over by Morales, on the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca. Choquehuanca elaborated: "December 21 of 2012 marks the end of egoism, of division. December 21 will be the end of Coca-Cola, and the beginning of mocochinchi." He added that on this day, "the planets will line up after 26,000 years," but rather than meaning the end of the world it will mean "the end of hatred and the beginning of love." (MinutoUno, Buenos Aires, July 17)

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