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Walter Ferrufino and the newspaper "El País" of Tarija are not telling the truth about the claims of the APGIG in respect of the highway project Entre Ríos - Palos Blancos

Today the newspaper "El País" of Tarija published an article which we reproduce below and which accuses Equipo Nizkor and the APG IG of illegal acts, most of which is supported in statements made by the "nefarious" |1| public officials Walter Ferrufino and Roberto Ruiz.
Roberto Ruiz Bass Werner
Walter Ferrufino Gaite

The only true statement in the article is that contained in the remarks of the Departmental Director of the Bolivian Administration of Roads (ABC), Tarija Region, with respect to two legally indisputable facts:

a) That the right to consultation is a legal obligation in any project and that in this case it was ignored, according to the Departmental Director, because SEDECA (the Departmental Service for Roads) concealed the fact that the highway in question crosses the Original Community Territory (TCO) Itika Guasu.

b) That on 26th March the APGIG sent a notarised letter to the Departmental Director of the ABC, reminding him of his legal obligations inherent in his official position and that the project must be subject to prior consultation with the APGIG as the legal and legitimate owner of the TCO Itika Guasu.

We hope that the ABC will comply with the law concerning indigenous rights, something that neither Walter Ferrufino, nor the Departmental Government of Tarija, represented in this article by Roberto Ruiz, have ever done.

The other information in the article is completely false as can be seen below:

1) The Executive Secretary of the Departmental Government, Roberto Ruiz, lies when he asserts that the APGIG "would be getting over four million bolivianos for each section" .

The APG IG signed a contract with Prefect Cossio in relation to the Chaco diversion based on the application of the right to consultation, pursuant to which the sums payable to the organization, approximately two million bolivianos, were for the account of the adjudicated companies through SEDECA, sums which, as of the date of this communiqué, have not been paid.

The Executive Secretary knows perfectly well that the current Departmental Government has systematically failed to comply with the contract concerning the Chaco diversion and that it has proceeded to illegally annul the said project, rejecting the ownership of the TCO Itika Guasu and his own obligations as a public official as well as the indigenous law which protects us.

2) Walter Ferrufino is not telling the truth when he claims that we have blocked projects. As of today he is the only one to have breached legal obligations (as a public official) and, as is well-known, he is now a defendant in a legal proceeding where he has been formally indicted for breach of his duties, an offense prohibited and penalised by Art. 154 of the Bolivian Criminal Code, precisely for not implementing the terms of the Constitutional judgement nş 2003/2010-R.

3) Walter Ferrufino is not telling the truth when he claims that the "Directorate" of the APGIG is responsible for holding up projects. The Directorate is the legal and legitimate representative of the APGIG and therefore exercises the property rights of the TCO Itika Guasu. As a result the exercise of the right to consultation should be carried out through this representation, as provided by laws currently in effect in Bolivia.

4) Walter Ferrufino is in violation of the law when he states that it is "the institutions which unite the Civic Committee that should deal with this subject and make decisions in respect of the same", as this is not what is provided by law. The Civic Committee may be honourable but it cannot opine on the right to consultation which is a right exercisable only by the original indigenous peoples, who, in the case of the TCO Itika Guasu, are made up of the Guaranis who have lived in the area for over 400 years.

5) Walter Ferrufino is not telling the truth when he states that Equipo Nizkor is the party "presumably responsible for impeding the execution of the Entre Ríos-Palos Blancos highway construction, opposing the project and leading the Departmental Government to fear demands of millions of dollars in the context of the consultation with the indigenous people". Although Equipo Nizkor are our legal advisers, we take decisions directly as an organization, and the entire legal team of our organization acts under our mandate both within and outside Bolivian territory.

As we already stated in our communiqué of 22nd November 2011: "with respect to our advisers, it is obvious that it is within our autonomous powers as an indigenous association to retain legal, financial, notarial, environmental and other specialist advice which relates to our long-term legal strategy, as well as to take advice from human rights organisations, universities and specialists in international criminal, mercantile and environmental law and, to do so, we do not have to request authorization from or offer explanations to any company or the national or departmental governments".

6) Walter Ferrufino must be held responsible for his actions before the law and these statements only serve to confirm that he is acting untruthfully and with manifest bad faith against indigenous rights, and in flagrant violation of his responsibilities as a public official.

7) It is clear that both Walter Ferrufino and the Executive Secretary of the departmental government Roberto Ruiz have a problem with the principle of legality as well as with the respect for indigenous rights and the civil liberties inherent in the rule of law. Their conduct can only be explained if it is analysed from the perspective of racism, in other words, in the understanding that their actions are motivated by racial prejudice against indigenous peoples (not only against the APGIG).

8) The newspaper "El País" of Tarija uses an internal working document of the APG IG which it obtained illegally (as reported at the time in our communiqués of 15th and 22nd November 2011). It is completely false to assert that any compensation is being claimed for the GVT project, given that a provisional agreement was reached with YPFB Transporte SA on 12th February 2012, and that this agreement makes no reference to the document mentioned by the newspaper "El País" of Tarija. Therefore the newspaper is lying with respect to the substance and form of the negotiation which we conduct in defence of our legitimate and legal interest.

Guaye (Entre Ríos), 1 May 2013

Assembly of the Guarani People of Itika Guasu

Equipo Nizkor

Nizkor holds up the Entre Ríos-Palos Blancos section and Departmental Government fears million dollar demands

A complaint by the Sectional Executive of O'Connor, Walter Ferrufino, points to the NGO Nizkor, who advises the Assembly of the Guarani People of Itika Guasu (APG IG), as the group likely to be responsible for holding up the execution of the roadworks Entre Ríos-Palos Blancos, opposing projects and leading the Departmental Government to fear that there may be million dollar demands arising from the consultation with the indigenous people.

The authorities made it clear that it is not the indigenous communities of O'Connor but the board of the APG IG, advised by the NGO Nizkor, which is opposing roadworks which would link the capital and the province of Gran Chaco. "The NGO Nizkor, which has transnational interests, always opposes any project which has to do with improving the quality of life of our people and the development of the Department, and creates difficulties and uses as an excuse the legitimate rights of the peoples, such as the right to consultation. But it is directly orientated to benefit one sector only and to the enrichment of the NGO itself", he stated.

Given this situation, he suggested that the institutions which make up the Civic Committee should be the parties to address and decide on this matter. "The section Entre Ríos - Palos Blancos is 76 kilometres that is going to be done with resources of the Government through the Bolivian Administration of Roads (ABC); this work would cost around 87 million dollars, but the definitive amount will be known once the final study has been updated", he stressed.

Prior Consultation

The Executive Secretary of the Departmental Government, Roberto Ruiz, referred to the prior consultation with the indigenous people and the possible monetary demands, stating that "the problem is the NGO Nizkor which tries to take any possible chance of extracting money under the pretext of giving it to the indigenous people but in reality it is used to fill its own coffers". "It is Nizkor who opposed and still opposes and it teaches the APG to oppose unless and until it receives multimillion dollar payments for the construction of the road."

Ferrufino confirmed his complaints, asserting: "this NGO spent time, first, in opposing and, after this opposition, it uses the argument that there must be a prior consultation with the communities. We entirely agree with this but, according to their interpretation, the consultation should not be held directly with the communities but with the board of directors, and they direct the board of directors, they advise it, supposedly from a philanthropic perspective, in other words, with no economic interest. But, to give such advice, they obtain significant economic resources from many companies and with that they are paid all their management and their own salaries; we cannot allow these people to continue interfering in matters which should benefit the entire Department (of Tarija)".

The regional director of the ABC, Marcelo Sosa, agreed that there had been no consultation hitherto because they had not realized that the road crossed indigenous territory, as the "Departmental Government made no mention of this fact".

Sosa has promised that there will be a prior consultation although this will mean the halting of the invitation to tender for supervision of the Entre Ríos-Palos Blancos road construction project..

Ruiz is hoping that there will not be any conflict about compensation generated by the negotiations and that an agreement can be reached to carry out the project as soon as possible.

Letter from the APG

Sosa advised that the ABC had received a letter from the APG IG demanding a prior consultation on the basis that the road passes through indigenous land. "The board of the APG has sent us a notarised letter advising that we do not tender the project before consultation with them. This was news to ABC Tarija because SEDECA (the Departmental Service for Roads) who were looking at this previously, had not informed us about the fact that the road will affect the APG. The consultation and related matters are provided for in the Political Constitution of the State and we are obliged to comply with the same, it is just that we were unaware that the road would fall within these provisions. We will therefore carry out a prior consultation before tendering for this section", he said.

Official journey

To study the status of the project and how to carry out the consultation, Sosa and Ferrufino travelled to La Paz to try to establish how to proceed with the construction of this section of the road.

Ruiz advised that "for this and other reasons the representatives of ABC and O'Connor are currently in La Paz". "I could not go with them because they let me know at very short notice but it is there at the highest level of State, where this impasse will be resolved".

Diversions to the Chaco

The Executive Secretary of the Departmental Government referred to the case of the construction of the diversions to the Chaco as a precedent, advising that, apparently, in this project, they would have received more than 4,000,000 bolivianos for each section, and it was from this perspective that it was considered a precedent and the reason for the authorities' fear that million dollar demands would be made, a situation in which the NGO exerted some influence.

APG Itika Guasu

The president of the Council of Guaraní Captains of Tarija, César Aguilar, stated that last Monday there had been a meeting at the offices of the indigenous people, although he claimed that the road project was not discussed. He asserted that the road which was part of the bi-oceanic corridor had already been discussed and he mentioned that an agreement with the suspended governor, Mario Cossio, had been signed two or perhaps more years ago. But now other roads were being discussed, and it was not known what was being done in the area of Timboy, or in respect of other projects. "We are asking the indigenous authorities for details about the situation with the road project and prior consultation", he said.

"I don't know, but at least I believe that as they have their team of lawyers, my colleagues will know better than I, because today is the first day that I am learning about this problem", he added.

We immediately contacted the Vice President of the APGI IG, Florentino Zeballos, but he advised that he is not authorised to discuss this subject and that he had been on leave for the last three days.

We asked him to give us the mobile telephone number of the Grand Captain of the zone but he refused to do so, informing us again that he was not authorised to do so.

Noteworthy facts

According to clauses 10 and 11 of the draft document sent to YPFB, the APGIG is seeking as compensation for the works carried out in 2007 in respect of the first expansion of the gas pipeline GasoductoVilla Montes - Tarija (GVT), the amount of US$1,988,000, equivalent to 10% of the amount invested in this first expansion, as well as 5% of the total investment to be made in the second expansion.

[Source: El País, Tarija, 01May13]


1. From the Spanish "protervo" (RAE: perverso, obstinado en la maldad), meaning obstinately evil. [Back]

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