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Bolivian senator, Indigenous representatives attacked by illegal miners

Dredger near the Madidi National Park. (Image by Alex Villca Limaco – Contiocap, Twitter).

Bolivian senator Cecilia Requena, members of the Senate’s Land and Territory Committee and representatives from Amazonian Indigenous organizations were attacked over the weekend when conducting an inspection in an area near the Madidi National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area.

Located in the northwestern part of the country ​​in the upper Amazon river basin, Madidi is part of one of the largest protected areas in the world. It is a particularly sensitive area for the conservation of the Bolivian Yungas and the Bolivian montane dry forests ecoregions.

Following reports of illegal mining operations taking place in the area, the group led by Requena went there on April 1, 2022. However, as they were approaching the Chushuara community, they were repelled by alleged illegal miners with stones, firecrackers and dynamite. 

“This incident shines the spotlight on how terribly normal attacks, abuses, illegality, impunity and ethnic and ecological destruction are in Bolivia,” the senator said on Twitter.

In a similar tone, the National Coordinator for the Defense of Native Indigenous and Farming Territories and Protected Areas of Bolivia (Contiocap) issued a media statement expressing concern over the possibility of incidents like this leading to the militarization of Indigenous territories. 

“We warn that conditions are being created for the militarization of our Indigenous territories and protected areas, in order to ultimately take away our right to territoriality and self-determination,” the communiqué reads.

Massive dredger

Despite the attack, the group was able to verify the presence of a massive dredger called La Reina operating 500 metres from the natural reserve.

The dredger’s licence plate CP1-1RR-883/2021 seems to indicate that it is originally from Colombia. 

Both Senator Requena and ​​Contiocap filed a complaint at the national park offices and the nearest port captaincy.