Indigenous people demand their rights in La Paz after 41-day march
Indigenous people from southern Bolivia arrived this Monday in La Paz after a 41-day, 700-kilometer (435-mile) march from Sucre, the nations’ constitutional capital, to demand that their communal lands be officially recognized as theirs alone.
The march of the Qhara Qhara Indigenous Nation left Sucre in southeast Bolivia last Feb. 6 and arrived this Monday in La Paz.
Wearing their native garb, they walked along the main streets of La Paz bearing signs demanding “respect for our ancestral lands” and the “restitution of territories,” among other slogans.
“After marching 41 days we are totally firm about making the government hear our request for what is stated in the Constitution,” the chief of the Qhara Qhara nation, Mario Chincha, told EFE.
The leader said that what they demand are rights that cannot be “violated or negotiated,” since “all of us who live in this multinational state must respect the Constitution.”
The Qhara Qhara Nation, which occupies the Potosi and Chuquisaca regions, rejects the individual ownership of lands promoted by the authorities and demands that the Evo Morales government acknowledge the indigenous community as the legitimate owner of lands that, its leaders said, it has occupied since pre-Columbian times.
These native people also demand that they be allowed to fully exercise their right to self-determination and that indigenous law be respected.
The community bases its demands on three articles of the Bolivian Constitution, which has been in force since 2009, and on the 169th Convention of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on indigenous and tribal peoples.
Also in the march were natives of the La Paz altiplano and from the eastern and northern Bolivian Amazon who joined the Qhara Qhara along the way to demand their territorial rights.
The marchers set up a vigil at the entrance to the Justice Ministry in downtown La Paz, hoping to be able to speak with the authorities of this branch of government.
In a statement to the media, Interior Minister Carlos Romero disparaged the march and accused the indigenous peoples of receiving financing from some non-government organizations (NGOs).
“The 40 days they kept going thanks to funding by some NGOs was a march bought and paid for, a march that was mortgaged,” he said.