SANTIAGO, Chile – Chile’s Superintendency of Sanitary Services has ordered two of the country’s main water suppliers – Santiago-based Aguas Andinas and Valparaíso-based Esval – to take steps to prevent water shortages after four million people were left without water on Jan. 22 and from Feb. 9-11. (Gustavo Ortiz for Infosurhoy.com)
LA PAZ, Bolivia – Nearly 2,000 indigenous people in Bolivia made a triumphal entry into La Paz on Oct. 19 at the end of a two-month march from the Amazon against a government plan to build a highway through their ancestral homeland.
The marchers, who set out in mid-August and trekked 600 kilometers (373 miles) from the lowlands high into the Andes, were greeted as heroes as they entered the capital and made their way to the presidential palace.
Facing the biggest challenge yet from fellow indigenous Bolivians in his five years in office, President Evo Morales withdrew police and a riot control vehicle as a gesture of goodwill and extended a welcome via his information minister.
Tens of thousands of people lining the steep streets waved Bolivian flags and white handkerchiefs to the sounds of firecrackers and patriotic songs, cheering and applauding as the marchers passed, accompanied by groups of workers and students.
“We are happy to have arrived but our demands have still not been answered,” said march leader Fernando Vargas, hopeful of being granted a meeting with Morales.
“We will see tomorrow if President Morales” is ready to accede to our demands, Vargas said.
The marchers, including women, children and elderly people, have endured heavy rains, low temperatures, mountainous terrain and police brutality during their journey.
They are protesting plans to build a road through the pristine Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory that would level an ancestral homeland inhabited by 50,000 native people from three different groups.
Although the project has been suspended, the marchers want it killed for good.
Morales, Bolivia’s first elected indigenous president, has offered to meet with the marchers to discuss the demands.
[AFP, 20/10/2011; Lostiempos.com (Bolivia), 20/10/2011]