A delegation from the International Rights of Nature Tribunal (IRNT) arrived at Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) in Bolivia. on August 16th to investigate a highway that is in the works to cross the indigenous territory. However, when they arrived they were held for five hours by the Indigenous Council of the South, a government group who’s tasked with protecting indigenous peoples, and then eventually gave up trying to enter the territory. The IRNT were threatened during their holding time, one of the captors allegedly saying, “We’re going to use whips if you take photos.” Their cameras were also taken away and for the first hour, they weren’t even allowed to leave their cars. This created a very tense atmosphere and put the IRNT on edge at what was supposed to be a routine visit, a routine visit that was supposedly approved by the Cabinet of Bolivia. After several hours this story of capture had spread through social media and a police officer arrived and told the IRNT to leave rather than stay and be threatened. The IRNT refused to leave and then after another hour and the arrival of three more officers, the IRNT were forced to leave without conducting their investigation.
This absurd incident is another example of how the Bolivian government’s control over its many entities is crumbling. It also indicates that there were perhaps wrongdoing going on at Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory at the highway construction that Bolivia did not want the world finding out about. This only follows the worrying trend of power grabbing and blatant disregard for government policies to protect indigenous people. Something that will only get worse as political tensions in Bolivia continue to rise.