Amazon road project put on hold by Bolivian president

Bolivians from the country's low-lying Amazon basin inlands take part in a protest against a road project through a nature preserve on September 24, 2011.

Story highlights

  • The suspension follows 41 days of protests
  • Violence broke out between demonstrators and police Sunday
  • A referendum is required for the project to restart
  • The road would run through the Amazon rainforest
Bolivian President Evo Morales has put the brakes on a controversial road project through a national park in the Amazon rainforest where indigenous communities live.
"The road project in the indigenous park ... is suspended," Morales announced Monday, after 41 days of sometimes violent protests.
Before the project can proceed, it will have to pass a referendum in Cochabamba and Beni provinces, where the road would be located, according to the president.
The announcement came as Morales condemned weekend violence between police and an indigenous group protesting the construction.
"We ... do not share the use of violence and the abuse toward the indigenous brothers who were on the march," the president said.
Some indigenous leaders said a baby was killed, but Morales said there was no evidence to support the claim.
"We do not know of the death of a baby or child; I hope it did not happen," the president. said.
But Jose Ortiz, leader of the Indigenous from northern La Paz, said "this attack ... will stay in the memory of all Bolivians. ... We are outraged."
Hundreds of people gathered Monday in the capital, La Paz, to denounce the violence, chanting "killers, killers, killers" to police.
Bienvenido Zacu, the deputy of the Guarayos Indigenous people from Santa Cruz called the violence "a violation of the human rights," saying it was the first time he had seen "this kind of abuse by an Indian government."
Some groups are planning a general strike for Wednesday.