Opposition from social movements and indigenous communities is growing stronger against major construction projects. Planned out of a mindset of unbounded extractivism, the proposals would destroy ancestral lands: the so-called TCO (Tierras Comunitarias de Orígen, or Native Community Lands), protected by the Constitution as property owned by indigenous peoples through collective title.
“The government is condemning us to a silent death,” said Alex Villca Limaco, from the Coordinator for the Defence of the Amazon (CODA) group in Rurrenabaque. “It is deceiving the indigenous communities and taking advantage of their state of need, and promises them services that should be guaranteed in the first place.” On Oct. 10, 2016, on the anniversary of 32 years of democracy, thousands of people took to the main squares in the country shouting “Bolivia dijo No!” (“Bolivia said No!”)
Bolivia had, in fact, said “No.” The slogan referred to the outcome of the February 2016 referendum, when the Bolivians rejected the constitutional amendment that would have allowed Evo Morales to run again in the 2019 elections, for the fourth, and purportedly final, time.
“Morales was confident he would win the referendum, but forgot at what cost the Bolivians had gained their democracy. People are well aware of the risk that his renewed re-election would bring. We are coming close to an open fight: Morales is trampling over the Constitution and the will of the people,” says Gustavo Soto Santiesteban, founder of the CEADESC (Center for Applied Studies on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) in Cochabamba, active until 2015.