A Saving Grace for sustainability of Amazon commons


When I watched the headline Evo Morales Scraps Amazon Road Project on the BBC evening news, I said to myself this is a saving  grace for sustainability of Amazon commons resource pool which provide natural habitats for vast wildlife, diverse species, people and their livelihood. About 1000 indigenous Tipnis protesters successfully marched for 63 days from the Amazon low land in eastern Bolivia on to La Paz the seat of power campaigning against the invasion of their commons resources. The £211m Brazilian investment Highway Project planned to pass through the National Park and indigenous territory with diverse ecological reserve in the Bolivian Amazon is bound to displace if not extinct some of the plant and animal species. This venture vehemently opposed by the indigenous people for the simple fact that the National Park commons resources are vital and without it, sustainability of life is not guaranteed.

In my view, the hugely bio-diversified commons resource settings of Bolivia’s Isoboro secure National Park worth being defended to remain preserved. The road project will undoubtedly be gainful but the central theme is that such infrastructural project will destroy the intrinsic values and reduce the habitats size and blended with fragmentation, there will be dare consequences on the sustainability of life. The simplistic and naturalistic view is that the social and cost will far outweigh the benefits most of which in fact will go to Brazil seen as an invader enclosing on the commons resource leaving Bolivia heavily indebted.

The confrontations with fellow indigenous Tymara and the police endured by the campaigners whilst on their 63 days march to La Paz did not stop them instead built momentum for them. Defending commons resource as seen is mostly a very challenging task but what matters most is unified solidarity, focus and will power. The protesters were not without opposition and the indigenous Tymara people, other Bolivians and Brazil were among them. This is a reminder to us that not everyone is always interested in the commons resource pool while those defending it are doing that in interest of all.

 President Evo Morales himself an indigenous person and well-known commons resources defender insisted last June to push the road project through “whether they like it or not we will build that road”. However, two government ministers were in support of the campaigners. The foreign minister David Choquehuanca once commented “Our Mother Nature feeds us, gives us drinks and we respect her, we value her, we have to look after her” and in her letter of resignation over the issue, the defence minister after the police response said ”This is Not the way. We agreed to do things differently”.

All these strengthen the people’s power to fight for sustainability of the commons resource pool and the road project was first suspended by president Morales after the campaigners encounter with police followed by a sharp slip in his popularity rating and ordered a referendum on road construction.

The pressure on the president paid off. First, he said “the construction of Tipnis road is suspended” and then when the protesters arrived in La Paz, joined/welcomed by tens of thousands of supporters“, he said “Tipnis issue is resolved, Tipnis would be spared”. “This is governing by obeying the people” Thus the Bolivia’s commons resource is saved and it would be declared “untouchable zone”. “The road will not pass through here.”  I think standing up in favour of the commons resource is always faced with internal opposition as some do not really care to stand in her defence and others do not even support its sustainability. I am an admirer of the non violence nature of the campaign against the road project. We must all think about this and make our contributions.



2 Responses to “A Saving Grace for sustainability of Amazon commons”

  1. charlieeze2011 Says:

    I must congratulate and commend the Tipnis protesters in Bolivia for waging a non-violence war against the State for a course that will not only protect and sustain their livelihood but contribute towards soaking C02 emissions in the World. Tipnis is regarded as the most beautiful jungle in the World and habitat to rare biodiversity and forms part of the Amazon rain forest arguably the largest rain forest in the world; accounting for almost half of the World’s rain forest.
    The will power that wields commons resources is akin to how Martin Luther King Jnr described the Power of Love as the most potent weapon against social and political transformity. This force expressed in different ways by different cultures and people, led to many wars in order to protect common territories, lands, properties and so on. Elinor Ostrom had also argued “that local communities usually have more information about what concerns them than larger entities like governments or global organisations, thus local communities will make better local decisions in general than governments/global organisations/etc”.
    We are beginning to see how the potent weapon that governs the commons is gradually confronting capitalism who have resorted in using Development as a decoy to degrade and exterminate natural resources. It is not unlikely that the government of Bolivia will someday blackmail the people of Tipnis and the neighbouring communities that they opposed development to come to their territories by denying investment in the highway road project. You will reason with me that declaring the zone untouchable is nothing but a political manoeuvre and face saving strategy for been insensitive to the wellbeing of the people.

  2. ngoziokei Says:

    Commons should use their power to vote and fight for the sustainability of their commons resource pool. Of course majority of commons will always carry the vote, along with commons participation, therefore sustainability development will be successful. Sustainability is very important, for the success of globalization to take place effectively. This development process should go along with the commons values/demands, that can be achieved only by agreement/participation and contributions, by the commons and for the commons. Looking at Bolivia’s commons resource, which is saved and declared “untouchable zone”, everyone is happy including the president, whereby suspending the Tipnis road and no more referandum (ie conditions given out to the commons). why don’t we make ourselves happy, to live longer and establish our social environment resources sustainable for us/better life forgetting not our future generations to come.

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