The CSS Blog Network

Development at What Cost? New Conflict Over Bolivia’s TIPNIS Road

TIPNIS march arrives in La Paz in October 2011. By Szymon Kochański on flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A proposed road project in Bolivia that plans to cross right through the middle of Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro Sécure (TIPNIS) is once again generating conflict and protest. Indigenous organizations, TIPNIS inhabitants and their supporters began a new long march on April 27, 2012 from Trinidad to La Paz demanding an end to the road project.

Plans for the 306 kilometer road are the result of an $415 million agreement signed by the Presidents of Bolivia and Brazil in August 2009. The Brazilian company OAS was initially awarded a turnkey contract to build the road in 40 months with financing from the Brazilian National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES).

In October 2011, after a large march of indigenous peoples and protestors arrived in La Paz, President Evo Morales passed a bill declaring the TIPNIS “intangible” or “untouchable”, which was understood by environmental campaigners and indigenous organizations as the final word on the issue. » More

Australia’s Indigenous (Prison) Population

Indigenous teenagers in Arnhem Land (Photo: Rusty Stewart/flickr)

Last week Australia performed extraordinarily well in the Global Liveability Survey and can now claim four of the top ten ‘most liveable cities’ in the world. One shining performer was the West Australian capital, Perth, which came in at 8th Place, just below Helsinki and just above a rival Australian city, Adelaide. You can take it from a proud Perth inhabitant – it’s a beautiful place to visit and even more remarkable place to live.

Unless, of course, you are an indigenous Australian, in which case there’s a very good chance you will be spending some time in Perth’s least beautiful locations – namely Hakea, Casuarina, or Bandyup maximum security prisons.

Last week a report was released by the government-established Productivity Commission, assessing the ongoing welfare (or lack thereof) of indigenous Australians.  Throughout Australia, indigenous people are 14 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-indigenous people.  In Western Australia specifically, indigenous people make up just less than 4% of the total Western Australian population, yet they make up 40.4% of the total male prison population, and 51.5% of the female prison population (Australian Bureau of Statistics). » More

A Storm in the Works

Oil, growth and security in Latin America, photo courtesy of Hubert Guyon/flickr

“Peru provides a dramatic example of a growing trend across Latin America where indigenous groups are challenging governments’ economic development programs by raising their voices against extractive industries,” Patricia Vasquez argues in USIP Peace Brief 19.

Across Latin America, economic growth is happening at a steady clip.  Similar to many countries in Africa, sustained growth is spurred by a demand for commodities – think oil, iron, ore, copper, gas, etc. –  needed to feed burgeoning economies, especially those in Asia. Indeed, such growth is counter to the trends happening in other parts of the globe where countries, in particular the United States and members of the EU, continue to grapple with economic contraction that has brought about hard policy decisions in the form of bailouts, stimulus packages, and cuts to social programs. In fact, a recent article in the New York Times noted how this trend has not only surprised analysts but also “surpassed the expectations of many [Latin American] governments themselves.”

Narrowing the focus to Peru, the country I am currently traveling through, the growth is palatable. Though great economic disparities exist and poverty is pronounced one can’t help but feel a buzz in the air – one aided and sustained by the development of Peru’s hydrocarbon areas and plans for expansion in the oil and natural gas sector (ONG). In 2009, as Peru’s GDP experienced over five percent growth, multinational oil and gas companies poured $800 million into the economy – making up for 50 percent of the nations tax revenues. A viable future in liquefied natural gas (LNG) production ensures that another $1 billion will be invested in the next few years. » More