Bolivian President Evo Morales agreed on Oct. 21 to scrap plans for a controversial highway that would have cut through the ancestral homeland of thousands of indigenous Amazon residents.
Indigenous protesters had blocked roads and scores camped out in front of the governmental palace in La Paz for two months to demonstrate against the construction of the proposed roadway that was planned to be built through the Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory National Park, or TIPNIS.
Morales agreed to veto the law that approved the 177-kilometer (110-mile) highway’s construction and declared the area off-limits to any similar projects.
“I think the government finally understood that it cannot destroy a national park,” said Fernando Vargas, an indigenous leader. “I don’t know if it was because it understood, or because of the pressure from the march and because the Bolivian people stood up.”
More than 60 indigenous communities from three ethnicities had participated in the march, which the police had tried to violently break up in mid-September, a major blow to Morales, who was elected the nation’s first indigenous leader, largely with the backing of Bolivia’s native communities, six years ago.