The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
Marco Octavio Ribera Arismendi, Seemin Qayum, 2018. "The Wages of Development", The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics, Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragán, Xavier Albó, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale
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Bolivia’s long-standing model for economic development has emphasized the extraction of valuable raw materials for export to foreign markets. Only in the late twentieth century did there begin to emerge an environmentalist critique of the detrimental impacts of mining and hydrocarbons concessions as well as infrastructure projects, such as building dams and roads. The critiques have focused on the high costs to the health and diversity of ecosystems and to the well-being and livelihoods of local communities vulnerable to pollution and displacement. For environmental movements throughout the country—which had early high hopes for the Movement to Socialism (mas) government, especially given the initial legislative proposals to defend “the rights of Mother Earth”—the replication of the old extractivist development model and the ongoing deterioration of natural resources and habitats, even those under legal protection, were a significant disappointment. This selection of press articles, written in 2010 and 2011 by the biologist and environmental activist Marco Octavio Ribera, lays out some of the major environmental hotspots in different parts of the country. Highlighted is the mas government’s controversial plan to build a road through the ecologically rich and fragile Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (tipnis). Ribera’s criticisms reflect prevailing concerns on the part of the environmental and social movements and the scientific community, dovetailing with the protests of many affected indigenous communities.