Bolivia: Indigenous Seize Gas Pipeline

Bolivia: Indigenous Seize Gas Pipeline

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September 5, 2006

This item comes from Weekly News Update on the Americas, No. 856, 8/27/06.

During the week of Aug. 14, some 500 indigenous Guarani people began an occupation at the Parapeti station of the Yacuiba-Rio Grande gas pipeline (GASYRG) near Charagua, in the eastern Bolivian department of Santa Cruz, to demand that the Transierra company pay the Guarani people $9 million in exchange for allowing the pipeline to operate on their land. Transierra agreed in a 2005 accord to provide that amount to benefit the Guarani people; the company says the funding was to be distributed over a 20-year period, and it has so far provided $255,887.

Transierra is co-owned by the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, the Spanish-Argentine oil company Repsol and the French company Total. The protest is organized by the Assembly of the Guarani People (APG). On Aug. 19 the protesters seized a control station at the facility, but so far they are only maintaining a symbolic occupation and have not shut down production.

On Aug. 21, the APG met with Bolivian government authorities and proposed that Transierra pay $4.5 million by Aug. 25, with the rest of the money due in five years. After five hours of meetings, in which a Bolivian government commission met separately with the APG and the company, Transierra manager Marcos Beniccio announced he would discuss the APG’s demands with the firm’s shareholders and the World Bank, which is financing the pipeline.

On Aug. 22, two truckloads of activists arrived to reinforce the occupation, and the APG said it would continue to hold the Parapeti station until at least Aug. 25, when talks with Transierra and the government of leftist indigenous president Evo Morales Ayma were set to resume. [Europa Press 8/22/06 via Yahoo Noticias; AP 8/22/06; Reuters 8/22/06; El Nuevo Herald (Miami) 8/22/06 from AP; Terra Brasil 8/22/06]

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