Bolivian social activist Oscar Olivera and former Bolivian Ambassador to the United States, Gustavo Guzman, on Wednesday joined hundreds of indigenous demonstrators opposed to the construction of a 185-mile long highway that would transect protected park land in the Amazon rainforest. Olivera, who rose to prominence for his role in Bolivia’s so-called water wars in 2000, remarked: “We want the government to govern for Bolivians, not for the big corporate interests.”
Although protests against the $420 million project, which is being financed largely by Brazil, have been ongoing for weeks, the presence of former Morales administration officials in recent weeks has further raised the public profile of demonstrations.
For more than four weeks, a column of demonstrators has been walking toward La Paz from Bolivia’s eastern lowlands more than 300 miles away. Although there have been numerous attempts by the government to initiate talks with protest leaders, the march has advanced to the town of Yucumo, Bolivia—about half the distance to La Paz. Local sources report that hundreds of police and government supporters have since assembled in Yucumo with the goal of halting the protestors march to the capital.