TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduran Defense Minister Marlon Pascua shows the weapons authorities seized from 13 alleged narco-traffickers who were arrested by the Navy aboard a vessel in the Caribbean Sea last week. Naval officials also confiscated US$658,000 during the bust. (Honduran Ministry of Defense/AFP)
LA PAZ, Bolivia – Defense minister Cecilia Chacón announced her resignation from the post Sept. 26 after police forcibly broke up a march by hundreds of indigenous angry over a controversial plan to build a highway through a rainforest reserve.
“I make this decision because I don’t agree with the intervention of the demonstration as done by the government, and I cannot defend or justify it,” Chacón said in her resignation letter to Bolivian president Evo Morales.
Several people were injured on Sept. 25 when police fired tear gas at demonstrators camped out near the northeastern village of Yúcumo, whose residents had set up a barricade to block the march.
Some with superficial face wounds were taken away by dozens of police officers, who loaded the marchers into buses to take them to a nearby city.
Local police chief Óscar Muñoz said that two people had been injured and were being treated by doctors, but that their injuries were “nothing serious.” He added that some police also were injured in the melee.
“No bullets were fired; [only] some tear gas was used,” he said.
The United Nations criticized the police action.
“The most important thing for us is that they stop the violence as soon as possible,” the U.N. envoy in Bolivia, Yoriko Yasukawa, said, reminding authorities that it was their responsibility to “protect the people.”
Indigenous activists from Bolivia’s Amazon basin region left the northern city of Trinidad in mid-August in a bid to march on the capital of La Paz to protest the highway plan.
The road would run through a nature preserve that is the ancestral homeland of 50,000 natives from three different Amazonian groups, who have lived largely in isolation for centuries.
[AFP, 26/09/2011; Lostiempos.com (Bolivia), 26/09/2011]