By FABIO MURAKAWA
Lula y Evo. Photo © The Achacachi Post®
SAO PAOLO, Brazil .— Lula and Morales are the main stars of a seminar with leaders of business organizations of Bolivia, where the former president will deliver a lecture under the theme "Regional Integration and Social Development of Latin American Countries." The event is sponsored by the OAS Brazilian construction company, responsible for road work linking the departments of Beni and Cochabamba in Bolivia that will make a cut through Indian Territory in two pieces.
Lula must convince Morales to adopt a less belligerent stance in relation to indigenous people, who refuse to allow the second section of the highway cross its territory.
The Indians promoted for about two weeks to march towards La Paz in protest against the road. They say they have not been consulted on the stretch of 177 km to cross the Indian Territory and National Park Isiboro Secure (TIPNIS) and fear coca farmers and settlers on the reservation. To increase the mistrust of the Indians, the government admitted this month that studies point to the existence of oil in the region.
Morales, in turn, has attacked the natives, accusing them of being in the service of foreign NGOs with interests in the region as United States of America, and slinging wood.
The president has even spread to a TV appearance on records with "suspicious" phone calls between indigenous leaders and U.S. embassy. The counselor of the embassy William Mozdzierz was called by the government to give explanations.
"Lula is a conciliator by nature. He will try to show President Evo Morales that getting people upset with the Indians only hinders his main goal, which is to finish the road," said a source from the Brazilian government.Another mission of Lula will be calm Morales on rumors that the BNDES is withholding funding to the highway because of the lack of agreement with the Indians, another source said. The Brazilian bank has not made any disbursements related to the work, claiming that new works began and that the funds are released according to the work.
The Indians, on the other hand, have been pressuring the Brazilian government for the money not come from BNDES while there is not an agreement between Bolivian govermnet and indigenous peoplet . Two weeks ago, dozens of demonstrators staged a protest in front of the embassy in La Paz, shouting slogans against the road stance and accusing Brazil "imperialist". A committee of indigenous leaders came to be received by the Ambassador Marcel Biat and asked, unsuccessfully, that the diplomat mediate contacts between them and the Chief of Staff, Gleisi Hoffmann, and representatives of BNDES.
The works of the road will link San Ignacio de Moxos (Beni) with Villa Tunari (Cochabamba), and have already begun in their first and third sections, on both ends of the highway. The main stretch, however, the second , which crosses the TIPNIS - an indigenous territory and national reserve of 1 million hectares, home to 10 thousand to 12 thousand Indians from three different ethnic groups.
The second portion accounts for about 40% of the total road and has the start of work scheduled for 2012. The completion of the road is planned for 2014. .
Source: VALOR ECONOMICO®