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The Bolivian Government Must Stop Persecuting Those Defending Nature and Rights and Address the Real

7 July 2017

Focus on the Global South

Pablo Solón, the Director of Fundación Solón, former Executive Director of Focus on the Global

South, and former Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), is being targeted by the

Bolivian government for his vocal criticism of the government and the construction of two

hydro-electric projects, El Bala and El Chapete in the Amazonian region. Based on the studies

done by Geodata, an Italian company hired by the government to identify where the dams will be built, Solón says they will “inundate an area five times larger than the city of La Paz, displace

more than five thousand indigenous peoples, deforest more than one hundred thousand hectares and will not be profitable for the country with the current prices of electricity in Brazil.”

Solón resigned as Bolivia’s UN Ambassador in June 2011, and was succeeded by the Deputy

Permanent Representative, Rafael Archondo. Archondo a very well known journalist, served as

the interim representative for 14 months, until Sacha Llorenti, who was Minister of Government

in September 2011 during the repression of the indigenous peoples’ march in defense of the

National Park and Indigenous Territory of TIPNIS, was appointed as the new UN Ambassador.

The Vice Ministry of Transparency and Anti-Corruption has now decided to bring criminal

charges with jail sentences of up to 4 years against Solón and Archondo, alleging that Solón

“illegally appointed” Archondo and that Archondo committed the crime of “prolonging

functions.” Both the accused have publicly responded showing that Archondo was appointed by

the President of Bolivia as Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN and that he did not

prolong in his functions.

Why such charges are being brought against Solón and Archondo now, six years after their

tenure in government, is clear. The Bolivian government aims to harass, intimidate and

criminalize those who dare to challenge the government’s policies and strategies. As Solón has

stated: “The news [of the criminal charges] was not a surprise. Following our critical analysis of

the mega hydroelectric plants at El Bala and Chepete, several friends had warned me that they

would leave no stone unturned to accuse me of something, intimidate me, and silence me.”

Despite the threat of imprisonment, Solón has re-affirmed his commitment to voice his opinions.

He says, “we will not lose hope for a different Bolivia, where the Rights of Mother Earth and

Vivir Bien are a tangible reality.”

We strongly condemn the efforts of the Bolivian government to harass and intimidate Solón for

standing up for the rights of indigenous peoples, nature and public interest. We urge the Bolivian government to withdraw the sham charges against both Solón and Archondo. We stand in solidarity with them as they challenge these trumped-up allegations, and continue to fight for

justice and nature.

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