Tribal protesters seize Bolivia's Foreign Minister

 

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The Independent US

The Bolivian President Evo Morales's battle with indigenous tribes opposing his plans for a motorway through their Amazon reserve descended into chaos as women took one of his senior ministers hostage.

The Foreign Minister, David Choquehuanca, met leaders of 12,000 indigenous community members participating in a month-long protest march to the capital, La Paz. The talks deteriorated as he insisted that pro-government peasant farmers also be consulted. A group of women surrounded the minister and two vice-ministers and forced them to march for two hours, before then releasing them.

The incident is the latest chapter in Mr Morales's struggle with indigenous peoples over his proposal to carve a road through the 3.4 million acre Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Reserve and National Park. The park is home to 64 native communities, who say the project will devastate lands they use for fishing and hunting.

Mr Morales, an Aymara Indian who has identified himself with indigenous rights, has taken a hardline stance on the motorway, which he says will bring economic development to rural areas.

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