Morales backtracks (again) on Amazon road
Bolivian President Evo Morales announced this month that he is canceling a contract with the Brazilian construction firm OAS to build a controversial US$415-million highway through the Amazon rainforest.
But indigenous leaders who have objected to the project, which would link the central department of Cochabamba with the Amazonian department of Beni, accuse the president of deceit. They insist the April 10 announcement was a tactic to sap energy from a march that project opponents scheduled for April 25.
They also argue that Morales, who has repeatedly changed his mind about the 190-mile (306-km) highway, could easily resuscitate the project. Pointing out that authorities cite disputes with OAS over alleged construction delays and contractual irregularities—not environmental concerns—as the reason for the cancellation, they say Morales could come to terms with the Brazilian company or find a different contractor.
“The president lies,” indigenous leader Fernando Vargas told the press. “He is trying to stop the march.”