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Bolivia: Supreme Decree 1286 on Ayoreos in isolation only raises doubts and suspicions

Bolivia: Supreme Decree 1286 on Ayoreos in isolation only raises doubts and suspicions


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By Pablo Cingolani

Last July 4, what a day, the constitutional government of Bolivia, headed by President Evo Morales, approved Supreme Decree number 1286 on the situation of the segments of the Ayoreo people in isolation who live in the Bolivian part of the Gran Chaco South American.


The purpose of DS 1286 is to carry out a “Multidisciplinary Technical Study in the area between the salient vertex of the strict protection area of ​​the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Natural Area of ​​Integrated Management (South zone) in a straight line to the North West vertex of the beginning of the Pantanal de Otuquis National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area, over an area of ​​five hundred thirty-six thousand five hundred sixty-eight hectares (536,568 ha.) ”for“ a. Identify the presence of Ayoreo groups in a situation of voluntary isolation and their areas of occupation and transit (camps, trails, hunting sites, fishing and others) during the performance of their activities and b. Determine mechanisms that guarantee the exercise of their right to remain in voluntary isolation, with the recommendation of the corresponding protection measures ”. The area referred to is located in the department of Santa Cruz.

So far, we are doing well, beyond the quality of voluntary or not the isolation of the Ayoreos, the norm clearly expresses the need to protect the right to exercise it, as also dictates by Article 31 of the Political Constitution of the Plurinational State .

The study will last 18 months, "from the approval of the defined methodology and the hiring of the multidisciplinary team by the Vice Ministry of Lands of the Ministry of Rural Development and Lands".

The decree establishes that “the Study will be developed by a multidisciplinary technical team in coordination with representatives of the Central Ayorea Nativa del Oriente Boliviano - CANOB, according to the methodology to be agreed upon and that guarantees no contact or disturbance with Ayoreo groups in voluntary isolation ”. It is obviously impossible to think that, as it should have been, the government was going to convene the CIDOB, the parent entity of all the indigenous peoples of the Lowlands, at the times of greatest political tension in their history. No way: we are not interested in judging political manipulations here, but rather in protecting the life and rights of the Ayoreo brothers in isolation.

The matter that we treat, by itself, is getting thicker. I transcribe article 4 in full:

ARTICLE 4.- (RESTRICTIONS IN AREAS OF INTEREST FOR RESERVATION AND ADJUDICATION OF HYDROCARBON IN FAVOR OF YPFB). In order to prevent any type of disturbance to the presence or transit of Ayoreo groups in voluntary isolation during the execution and until the conclusion of the Multidisciplinary Technical Study that is the object of this Supreme Decree and to guarantee the obtaining of objective results, Yacimientos Petrolifos Fiscales Bolivianos - YPFB It will not be able to carry out any exploration or exploitation activity within the Hydrocarbon Reserve and Award Areas of Interest in favor of YPFB, which comprises an approximate area of ​​three hundred fifty-eight thousand hectares (358,000 ha.) whose area is described in the list and plan of coordinates in Annex attached to this Supreme Decree.

What has been said already generates doubts. First of all, it would be pertinent to inform whether or not the state oil company is carrying out any activity in the area of ​​intervention of the future study, since - following the letter and spirit of DS 1286 - it would seem that the study to be carried out is only a parenthesis, a requirement to fulfill and now, in the activity of Reservoirs.

Moreover, it is quite rude and disturbing to state that any type of disturbance to the Ayoreo will be prevented "during the execution and until the conclusion of the Multidisciplinary Technical Study object of this Supreme Decree", and it is already quite suspicious, when it is added "and to guarantee the obtaining of objective results ”.

It smells to prepare the ground to affirm: There are NO isolates in the sector, that YPFB enters. Otherwise, it would not be necessary to include the aforementioned article, since in its object, DS 1286 is clear: it is about identifying the presence of the isolated and determining mechanisms for their protection, that is, for their permanent non-disturbance .

The thing keeps thickening ugly when it sets:

ARTICLE 6.- (COMPETENT AUTHORITY). The Vice-Ministry of Lands will be the competent entity for the preparation of the Multidisciplinary Technical Study in coordination with the National Service of Protected Areas - SERNAP and YPFB, assuming the following responsibilities as appropriate:

The only competent authority to carry out a study of these characteristics is a single one: the Ministry of Justice, whose institutional strategic objectives, as can be read on its own website, are "to propose and contribute to the full exercise of fundamental rights" and " promote the construction and implementation of the plural justice system, generating conditions of equality in the defense, protection, access, exercise and restitution of fundamental rights ”.


Given that the major problem (the situation of a group of people, of special condition, historically determined, with ethnic uniqueness and the present and future exercise of their human rights) also involves the issue of land and its status as a protected area, entities like the Vice Ministry of Lands and SERNAP, they should be called upon to support and coordinate with the Ministry of Justice. But we insist: this last instance is the one that should lead the process.

The Defensoría del Pueblo, as another specialized state body and defender of human rights, should be called upon to monitor the entire process.

Given the cross-border nature (with Paraguay) of the itinerant group, the Foreign Ministry should also be present, and for humanitarian reasons and to protect the health of the isolated, the Ministry of Health should be present, and until there, the participation of the State.

Hence, the provision of powers by the DS. 1286 is highly suspicious, if not an accomplice of future irregularities in the aforementioned study, since: What does YPFB have to do with the defense of indigenous and human rights? Moreover, on several occasions, its president, Mr. Villegas, has openly expressed his rejection of the indigenous consultation, which he considers an obstacle and a hindrance to his business expansion plans. With this background, and taking into account that with the isolated there is not even the possibility of consultation, is it not giving the wolf the care of the sheep?

Moreover, if we are already drawing conclusions, the absence of the Ministry of Justice among the competent authorities, when it is currently the ministry that is leading the process of construction of the Draft Law for the defense and protection of indigenous peoples in situations of extreme vulnerability , which already includes the peoples in a situation of isolation, and obviously the Ayoreos of the decree of marras, crossed with the presence of YPFB, sum zero, or less than zero. It's total alarm, red light, S.O.S. Ayoreos!

The picture is even more dramatic since the approved DS also has its history, and as can be read in a draft of the same from October 2009, there it was established in relation to the competences:

ARTICLE 7. (COMPETENT AUTHORITY) .-

I. The Vice Ministry of Lands, of the Ministry of Rural Development and Lands, will be the competent entity to establish:

1. Systems and strategies for monitoring, surveillance and information gathering that allow the establishment of occupation and roaming areas.

2. The generation of protocols for the management of the area, complementary protection measures and necessary sanctioning measures.

3. The generation of awareness and training strategies and information for existing entities in the area.

4. The establishment of special measures for the execution of agrarian procedures.

5. Take cognizance of the requests referred to in subsections d) and e) of Article 4 of this Supreme Decree.

6. Define the territory and the special legal regime to propose its homologation by Supreme Decree, before the competent authorities

II. For this purpose, the Vice-Ministry of Lands, of the Ministry of Rural Development and Lands, will form multidisciplinary and inter-institutional teams or technical commissions, under its direction and with the participation of Ayoreo indigenous people, being able to sign inter-institutional agreements with public or private entities. Consultative instances with the Ayoreo Indigenous People should be generated within the framework of social control.

III. The Vice Ministry of Lands will constitute an instance of social control destined to the follow-up and evaluation of the fulfillment of the present Supreme Decree, with the participation of the organization of the Ayoreo indigenous people, the INRA and the SERNAP.

That is, translated: the Vice Ministry of Lands, at that time, established a lock on the powers. Even on the hydrocarbon issue, the draft stated in its article 4 of Precautionary Measures in its subsection D:

Exploration and exploitation activities, mining and hydrocarbons, will be carried out with the knowledge of the Vice Ministry of Lands, coordinating with this instance the operational actions.

Although the padlock worked only half-and for the same reason, it was objected by us-, it is evident that the 2009 draft has nothing to do with the decree approved in 2012 where, we insist, give the oil company competition and coordination of the study on the life situation of a human group is to give it the power to decide how it is convenient for them to live or not, according to their visions and interests, and not according to the spirit and letter of the Magna Carta where the rights of peoples in isolation are enshrined.

We will have to do the corresponding follow-up, but from the beginning, DS 1286 is a skein where the destiny of a people is immorally mixed with the exploration plans of an oil company.

As we said and asked ourselves a thousand times, when it was the case of the Mosetenes attacked by oil exploration in the Southern Amazon, what is worth more, the life of an ancestral indigenous people and who have not lost their ties with Mother Earth? Or gasoline for the cars and trucks of the soy producers, ranchers and loggers that are the main cause of disturbance, ethnocide and genocide for the Ayoreo people?

We think that even if there is only one Ayoreo nomadic for those lands, their existence and their dignity have more value than all the oil and gas that can be extracted from their territory. Save a man, and you will save humanity, says the Talmud. Oil and gas, to which we are condemned, only brings with it war and genocide. We need them, we use them, yes and every day, but at least once, we should show ourselves that we care more about life.

Pablo Cingolani - Río Abajo, July 30, 2012


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