BY CATALINA RIVADENEIRA CANEDO FOR DEBATES INDÍGENAS
While awaiting a referendum to approve their statute and initiate the new Indigenous Autonomous Government, the communities need to improve the management of their territory and natural resources. The territory's high biodiversity and the communities' livelihoods are being threatened by illegal logging, poaching and fishing, as well as the construction of a road that is facilitating illegal access to the territory.
Photo: Community of San Antonio del Cuverene. Photo: Fátima Monasterio
According to the 2012 National Census, 41% of Bolivians over the age of 15 are of Indigenous origin although the 2017 projections from the National Statistics Institute (INE) indicate that this may now have increased to 48%. Of the 36 peoples recognised in the country, most Quechua (49.5%) and Aymara (40.6%) speakers live in the Andean region where they self-identify as one of 16 nationalities. The Chiquitano (3.6%), Guaraní (2.5%) and Moxeño (14%) peoples live in the Lowlands where, together with the remaining 2.4%, they make up the other 20 recognised Indigenous Peoples. The Indigenous Peoples have thus far consolidated 23 million hectares of collectively owned land as Native Community Lands (Tierras Comunitarias de Origen/TCO), representing 21% of the country’s total area. Following the approval of Decree No. 727/10, the TCOs changed their official name to Peasant Native Indigenous Territories (Territorio Indígena Originario Campesino/TIOC). Bolivia has ratified the main international human rights conventions and has been a signatory to ILO Convention 169 since 1991, with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in full effect since the approval of Law No. 3760 of 7 November 2007. With the new 2009 Political State Constitution, Bolivia adopted the status of Plurinational State.
Choquehuanca with Morales when he was Minister of External Affairs. Photo: Communidad Andina.
After a decade as Chancellor of Evo Morales, David Choquehuanca was the leader chosen by the Pacto de Unidad to represent Indigenous, native and peasant peoples in the Movimiento al Socialism’s (MAS) binomial. Following the victory by 55% of the votes, in his speech, the Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia called for reconciliation and dialogue among the Bolivian people. Regarded as a wise Aymara, for his knowledge of the worldview of “Vivir Bien” (Living Well), he called upon the Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala, to the complementarity of the Chacha-Warmi and to the Andean solidarity of the Ayni.