|Fresh protests in Bolivia road row |
From Al Jazeera
Tens of thousands march against government's violent crackdown on demonstrations against controversial road.
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2011 21:23
Tens of thousands of Bolivians have taken to the streets to protest against President Evo Morales's handling of demonstrations opposing the construction of a controversial highway through an Amazon rainforest reserve.
Protests took place in several major cities on Wednesday in defence of the reserve, which is inhabited by thousands of indigenous people.
Demonstrators heaped reproach on Morales, the first indigenous person to be elected president, for a violent government crackdown on earlier protests.
"This government is the worst and it should go because it attacked human beings, the indigenous compatriots who had given it their support, and now it's turned its back on them," said Juan Pinto, a 44-year-old schoolteacher who took part in a march that brought central La Paz, the capital, to a standstill.
Bolivia's main labour federation had called a 24-hour general strike on Wednesday, though many businesses remained open. Schools and health services were affected by the strike.
Several thousand people from the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) marched from the suburb town of El Alto to La Paz, however, crippling traffic.
Authorities called the strike unnecessary, as Morales had earlier ordered the suspension of the project pending a referendum on whether it should go forward.
Bolivia's interior minister, Sacha Llorenti, his top deputy and another official earlier resigned over the violent police crackdown on indigenous activists.
Llorenti made the announcement in La Paz on Tuesday after he became the focus of fierce criticism when riot police fired tear gas and arrested hundreds at a Sunday crackdown on activists who were 41-days into a protest march against the highway.
Earlier in the day, Carlos Romero, the president's chief of staff, announced that the deputy foreign minister, Marcos Farfan, had also resigned over the incident, saying that Llorenti's top deputy would "submit to an investigation and will have to take responsibility for the events on Sunday".
Llorenti, a former human rights activist, said he was resigning in an attempt to avoid politicising the incident and to defend himself from criticism over the crackdown.
He also blamed Farfan for the incident, saying his top adviser oversaw the police force that broke up the protests and acted "at the suggestion of some police officers".
The director of Bolivia's migration agency, Maria Rene Quiroga, blasted Sunday's incident as "unforgivable" and resigned on Tuesday.
These latest resignations follow that of defence minister Cecilia Chacon, who resigned her post on Monday in a show of disgust over the incident, in which one baby was reportedly killed by tear gas inhalation.
Replacements were quickly sworn in: Wilfredo Chavez, a Morales loyalist, replaced Llorenti, while Ruben Saavedra, who was defence minister until April, took up his old job again. Morales swore them in late on Tuesday.
The backlash is a major setback for President Evo Morales, who by stubbornly insisting on the 300km jungle highway alienated many of his indigenous core supporters in this poor, landlocked nation where more than two in three people are members of indigenous groups.
Morales suspended construction of the highway on Monday, hours after police released hundreds of activists who had blocked roads and stopped airport traffic in an attempt to prevent other arrested protesters from being taken out of the area.
"We repudiate the excesses yesterday at the march," Morales said, adding that a high-level commission including international representatives should be formed to investigate the crackdown.
One young child reportedly died as a result of tear gas inhalation.
The crackdown came 41 days into an indigenous-led march against the plan to build the highway that would connect Brazil with Pacific ports in Chile and Peru.
In a brief televised address, Morales said he would let the two affected regions, Cochabamba and Beni, decide whether to proceed with the Brazil-financed road.
As a result of the crackdown, several people suffered minor injuries, according to local media reports.
"The march was defused because it had become a source of violence," he told the Reuters news agency.
Police surged into the demonstrators' camp with "extreme violence", veteran activist Maria Carvajal told the AFP news agency. "I could not believe what was happening."
On Monday, protesters reacted by setting barricades on fire on the airport runway in the town of Rurrenabaque, in an attempt to free about 300 marchers who were being held by authorities, Mayor Yerko Nunez told local media.
In La Paz, riot police set up a security cordon around the Quemada government building, as thousands of demonstrators gathered outside.
Other protests were also held in the central city of Cochabamba, where students marched and majority Aymara and Quechua indigenous peoples began a hunger strike.
Protests were also held in the northern province of Beni and in Santa Cruz.
Momentum for Change: Global bike ride for the climate
Momentum for Change: Global bike ride for the climate
All around the world, the fight against the causes of climate change is really heating up.
One of the focal points of this struggle is in regard to the expansion of the tar sands right in our own back yard. Last month, we hosted a rally in Burnaby in solidarity, with the folks at the White House trying to stop the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. This was about limiting the supply of oil to international markets. This month we are targeting the demand for oil coming from transportation.
We need your help to keep the momentum going in the fight against climate change.
350.org, the group that played an important role in the White House protests, has organized a gigantic international day of action focused on transportation alternatives. The Moving Planet Day of Action is on Sept. 24th.
We are helping to host the Vancouver component of the day of action. We are thrilled to once again be working with Youth for Climate Justice Now, the same group we organized the Earth Day parade with this year. Our event in Vancouver is called Momentum for Change and will involve a bike ride (or skateboard or unicycle or pogo stick or however else you want to self-propel) from Science World to Stanley Park.
The ride will start at 2pm. Leaving from Creekside Community Centre at False Creek close to Science World. We'll take the new, continuous bike route along Dunsmuir and Hornby through downtown Vancouver, and from there up Beach Avenue ending up at Second Beach in Stanley Park.
Before the bike ride, starting at 12 noon there will be festivities and a public forum on transportation alternatives at Creekside Community Centre with our friends from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Better Environmentally Sound Transportation. We will be discussing the paper we co-published with the CCPA called Transportation Transformation.
The number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in BC is automobiles, and of course transportation is primarily what oil is used for worldwide. To break our society's addiction to oil we need to break our automobile dependence, and transition to bikes and more effective and affordable public transit.
For all the information about this day of action against climate change, check out MovingPlanetVancouver.org
So get your bike ready and make plans to join us -- together we can keep this movement rolling!
Ben West | Healthy Communities Campaigner
On Bicycles Book Launch & Ride - Wed. Sept 21 6pm
On Bicycles - 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life
featuring the work of 33 writers, edited by Amy Walker
Wednesday, September 21st @ 6 pm | lululemon lab | 511 west broadway
COMMUTER CAPSULE LAUNCH PARTY:
Lululemon will introduce their new line of cycling-friendly clothing.
- Have your copy of the new book On Bicycles signed by editor Amy
Walker and the contributing writers in attendance including Ulrike
Rodrigues (aka Mitey Miss), Ron Richings, Sarah Ripplinger, David Hay
(maybe! as it's his birthday!), Denise Wrathall - and more!!!
- Bring your bike and wear your favourite gear for a guided musical
bike ride through the city following the event.
Books for sale on site.
Bike ride leaves at 7:30pm
Once the sole province of European cities like Amsterdam and
Copenhagen, bike culture is exploding in North American cities like
Portland, Vancouver, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Whether
people are riding folding bikes to the train, or slipping through
traffic on tricked-out fixed-gears, or carrying children and groceries
on their utility bikes, bicycles are making urban life more dynamic,
more enjoyable — simply better. People are giving up their cars.
Cities are holding car-free street festivals for walking and biking.
Dedicated bike lanes and bike pa rking are taking the streets back
from cars. Bikes in general are becoming a bigger part of daily life
for a lot of urban dwellers.
Amy Walker has been at the forefront of this trend as co-founder of
Momentum Magazine, which chronicles and inspires urban bike culture.
In On Bicycles - 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life,
she collects a wide-ranging group of cycling writers to explore the
ways that biking culture can change, and is changing, people's lives.
Bikes are becoming the primary mode of transportation and grocery
hauling for entire families, and On Bicycles covers a wide range of
contemporary bike culture.
Occupy Wall Street, Global Revolution, Fun
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Carfree Times #63 now free online
Issue #63 of Carfree Times continues J.H. Crawford's fine work and is now available free at:
This issue includes the Feature Article from Fanis Grammenos, "Portland's Portal of Opportunity," on Portland's street grid and deviations from it.
Also, "The History of Planning in Vancouver and Hamilton" gives a fairly detailed and revealing analysis of the impacts of planning decisions in those two cities over the past four decades.
And the Fading Allure of Bio-Fuels.
~Ron Richings via VACC list