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Bolivia
24.09.01
Urgent Interventions

Bolivia: violence and denial of the rights of the Chiquitano people on the Monte Verde territory

ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS CONCERN
Case BOL 240901. ESCRC


The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Bolivia.


Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed, by a reliable source of the ongoing denial of the rights of the Chiquitano indigenous people of Santa Cruz de la Sierra over the territory of Monte Verde. It is also reported that indigenous leaders and communities received repeated threats, leading to an attack on September 15th 2001 against Dr. Leonardo Tamburini, who has been the legal representative of the indigenous communities since 1996.

It is reported that during the recent months some 50 individuals hired by the FINO S.A. oil company have entered the territory of Monte Verde and cleared around 300 ha of forest. According to the information received, FINO S.A. has been trying to acquire land in the territory of Monte Verde for many years, through a cooperative called La Unidad, which is under its control. Thus, FINO S.A. has allegedly already acquired around 15’000 ha. of land located in the indigenous territory of Monte Verde.

As a result of these developments, indigenous organisations – the Central Indigena Paikoneka de San Javier (CIP-SJ) and the Central Indigena de Comunidades de Concepcion (CICC) - have allegedly reinstalled check points in the communities of Turuz Napez, Santa Rita, Dan Fermin and San Lorencito, as well as in the municipalities of San Javier and Concepcion. These posts were aimed at preventing the entry of private individuals into the indigenous territory of Monte Verde, as well as the destruction of the forests.

According to the information received, the stock farmer and agricultural industry associations reacted to these measures, leading a campaign which aimed at putting pressure on the government in order to get access to indigenous lands.

It is reported that on September 11th 2001, a Commission of the Forestry Superintendence (Superintendencia Forestal), which is the competent entity for controlling and sanctioning illegal tree-felling, started an investigation into the deforestation of areas within the territory of Monte Verde. The decision to carry out such an investigation followed a denunciation by indigenous organisations.

On September 12th 2001, the representatives of the cooperative La Unidad, which was affected by the investigation, allegedly intercepted the car of the investigators who were accompanied by the legal adviser of the indigenous organisations, Dr. Tamburini. It is reported that the representatives of the cooperative La Unidad, armed with guns, proffered death threats against the passengers in the car. As a result, the investigation had to be suspended due to a lack of security guarantees.

On the same day, individuals who were cutting trees in the indigenous territory of Monte Verde allegedly proffered death threats against the communities at the check points of Turuz Napez and of the Municipio de San Javier.

Finally, it is reported that on September 15th 2001, Dr. Leonardo Tamburini, who has been the legal representative of the indigenous people since 1996, and who is responsible for the attribution of title deeds regarding the territory of Monte Verde, was attacked by some 20 stock farmers from the municipalities of Concepcion and San Javier. According to the information received, Dr. Leonardo Tamburini was leaving the Central Indigena Paikoneka in San Javier at 3.00 pm when some 20 armed men alighted from 4 or 5 vehicles and tried to abduct him. Following an altercation, the armed men allegedly took Dr. Leonardo Tamburini by force to the building owned by the San Javier stock farmers association. According to the information received, Dr. Leonardo Tamburini was hit at the face before being pushed into one of the cars. It is reported that Dr. Leonardo Tamburini was eventually released at 7.30 pm on September 15th 2001. A medical examination revealed that he suffered various contusions to his face, head and the rest of his body.


Background Information

The 1996 Law No. 1715 of the National Service of the Agrarian Reform (INRA) provides for the recognition of indigenous people’s rights over their land. Its promulgation marks the beginning of the attribution of titles to indigenous communities for the territory of Monte Verde.

While, according to the Law, the attribution of title deeds to indigenous people had to be completed within a period of 10 months, indigenous communities of Monte Verde continue to face severe and repeated obstacles to obtain titles over their lands.

According to the information received, the process of attributing titles to indigenous people over the indigenous territory of Monte Verde has been and continues to be besieged by irregularities and conflicts between the indigenous communities and private individuals, including stock farmers and FINO S.A. It is reported that the Bolivian authorities, and in particular INRA and the Forestry Superintendence, have repeatedly taken measures or positions going counter to the 1715 Law and denying the entitlement of the indigenous people of Chiquitano to their territory of Monte Verde.

It is reported that in July 1997, the Forestry Administration gave concessions to private individuals within the indigenous territory of Monte Verde. These concessions are said to cover around 120’000 ha. In doing so, the Forestry Superintendence neglected the ILO recommendations to the Bolivian Government regarding the implementation of the ILO Convention No. 169.

According to the information received, the INRA has also tried to legalise and consolidate private individuals’ claims over the indigenous territory of Monte Verde. It is reported that INRA has adopted norms contrary to the Law 1715 and has suspended or delayed the process in order to force the indigenous communities to accept the irregularities in the application of the Law 1715.

Legal actions, undertaken since 1996, have so far proven unable to guarantee the indigenous people’s rights over the territory of Monte Verde. Indeed, it is reported that the tribunals, which dealt with litigations related to the attribution of title deeds to the indigenous communities have taken stances negating indigenous rights over their land. For instance, the Constitutional Tribunal (Tribunal Constitucional) declared that some dispositions of the Law 1715 were unconstitutional following a complaint brought by private individuals. This clearly hampers the recognition of indigenous peoples’ titles over the territory of Monte Verde. Another dispute, also brought by private individuals, is currently pending before the National Agrarian Tribunal (Tribunal Agrario Nacional).


Action Requested

Please write to the Bolivian authorities urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Dr. Leonardo Tamburini as well as of the Chiquitano indigenous people;

ii. guarantee an immediate investigation into the circumstances of the attack against Dr. Leonardo Tamburini, identify those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;

iii. guarantee an immediate investigation into the circumstances of the threats proferred against the indigenous communities, identify those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law

iv. guarantee that the activities of the oil company FINO S.A. and its cooperative La Unidad do not negatively impact on the rights of indigenous communities over their land;

v. address the problem of attribution of title deeds to indigenous communities regarding the indigenous territory of Monte Verde, in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards and in particular the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the ILO Convention No. 169;

vi. guarantee respect for the economic, social and cultural rights and the fundamental freedoms of the indigenous peoples Chiquitano of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards and in particular the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the ILO Convention No. 169;

vii. effectively implement the recommendations made by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its 1996 concluding observations, and in particular with regard to the right to education and the right to adequate housing;




Addresses:

Dr. Jorge Quiroga Ramirez, Presidente de la Republica, Palacio de Gobierno, La Paz ; Fax : (591-2) 371388 ; Tel. (591-2) 371082 ; E-mail : presidencia@caoba.entelnet.bo

Mario Serrate Ruiz Argandoña, Minister of Justice and Human Rights, E-mail: minjust@caoba.entelnet.bo

Ing. Wilmar Stelzer, Prefecto Del Departamento de Santa Cruz, Plaza 24 de Septiembre, Palacio Prefectural - Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Fax (591-3) 352214 ; Tel. (591-3) 346939 ;
E-mail : pdcom@cotas.com.bo

Lic. Rene Salomon Vargas, Director Nacional del Instituto Nacional de Reforma Agraria – INRA , calle Junin No. 745 esq. Indaburo – La Paz; Fax: (591-2) 407292, (591-2) 409072 ; E-mail : inra@datacom-bo.com

Dr. Hugo Teodovich, Presidente Tribunal Agrario Nacional, calle Calvo No. 197, Sucre; Fax: (591-64) 23061; E-mail: etotan@marascr.entelnet.bo

Dr. Ana Maria Campero, Defensoria Del Pueblo, calle Heriberto Gutierrez No. 2374, La Paz; Fax: (591-2) 443838; E-mail: delpueblo@defensor.gob.bo


Please also write to the embassies of Bolivia in your respective country.

Geneva, September 24, 2001

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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