FROM THE EDITORS: After close to 100 days of resistance in Bolivia’s lowlands, indigenous representatives of the newly created Parlamento de la Naciones Indígenas de la Amazonía, Oriente y Chaco bolivianos (PNIAOC) decided to return home without the hoped dialogue with Luis Arce’s government, which instead organized parallel events to undermine this indigenous movement. The takeover of Bolivia’s indigenous organizations by political parties has been a constant struggle between access to long-denied resources and self-determination, particularly when indigenous objectives or worldviews clash with national plans for development rooted in the same old extractivist economic infrastructure. It has also sadly pitted organizations and organizers against each other. As you read this transcription and English translation of PNIAOC’s statement, pay close attention to this tension.
Parliament of the Bolivian Indigenous Nations of the Amazon, East, and Chaco
The March for the Earth, the territory and for identity, returns home
The members of “March for the Earth, Territory, and Identity” are returning to our communities after 99 days in Santa Cruz. We return with our “hands full” of progress and hope for the future. Along the way, and then in permanent session, we formed the Parliament of the Bolivian Indigenous Nations of the Amazon, East, and Chaco (PNIAOC) on the premises of the Rene Moreno Autonomous University (UAGRM). This way, the marchers of the 34 indigenous nations of the lowlands, -as we also call ourselves-, have equipped ourselves with a Government, thus exercising our right to free self-determination, that is, the right to decide on our destiny, in line with ancestral, national and international indigenous peoples rights.
But we have not only created the PNlAOC Parliament, the Supreme Council and representatives of our new PNIAOC Parliament have also taken the Oath and met with members of the International Cooperation (GRUS). It was an opportunity to introduce ourselves and, at the same time, present a project for the “financing of the creation and operation of the Parliament during the first year 2022-2023”. More than a dozen donors expressed their willingness to accompany and support our government of indigenous peoples of the lowlands. Regarding the sustainability of the PNIAOC Parliament in the short and long term, we have proposed our own financing sources through the Development Plan with Social and Cultural Identity, also approved during our stay in Santa Cruz.
Finally, as Bolivian representatives of the new Parliament of Indigenous Nations of the Amazon, East and Chaco, PNlAOC, we have the opportunity to publicly express our gratitude to God and the people of Santa Cruz, whose solidarity has been as much or greater than the indifference of the central government, which clearly only governs for members of a political party and only for the indigenous people of the highlands. Furthermore, nothing that was achieved would have been possible without the contributions of Santa Cruz’s organized civil society, which tirelessly managed aid for more than 200 marchers with food and medical care and needs of all kinds. Among these, FUNDACRUZ, Alianza por Bolivia, CONAINDE, and many others, and of course, UAGRM’s generous accommodations, without which none of this would have been possible.
With the funding for the inauguration of our new PNIAOC Parliament, the voice of the indigenous nations and peoples of the “lowlands” will not be lost when we return to our communities. It will remain alive and vibrant, imposing its presence in national forums where the country’s future, including ours, are defined. The PNIOAC will not allow the members of our 34 nations of the Amazon, the East, and the Bolivian Chaco to continue to be dominated by colonizers of the highlands and left behind, in the back end of development by today’s authorities. Instead, we demand protection and recognition as Bolivian citizens, and human beings with equal rights, but above all, because we are the guardians of ancestral knowledge that is very valuable for the preservation of forests and biodiversity or what is the conservation of the great house of humanity.
Santa Cruz, December 3, 2021
Marcial Fabriano Noe
General Coordinator of the Parliament of Indigenous Nations of the Amazon, East, and Chaco of Bolivia
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