Sept 27 - Bolivian President Evo Morales halts work on a highway being built in the Amazon in a bid to ease tensions after protest march. Marie-Claire Fennessy reports.
Bolivian President Evo Morales halts work on a highway being built in the Amazon. It is a bid to ease tensions after a month-long protest march and police crack down on demonstrators. (SOUNDBITE)(Spanish) PRESIDENT OF BOLIVIA, EVO MORALES SAYING: "There should be a national debate, a debate among the Bolivian people so that they decide, especially in the departments that would benefit or be affected. Until this national debate takes place, the highway project is suspended inside the Isibro Secure National Park." On Sunday, police fired teargas and detained protesters when they raided an encampment in Yucumo, 185 miles north of La Paz. Several people were reported to have suffered minor injuries. The raid was criticized by opposition leaders and the ombudsman. Fierce opposition to the road has been uncomfortable for Morales. It's been led by Indian communities who normally back his pro-indigenous reforms. He put the highway at the heart of his drive to boost infrastructure in the poor country, but it has tested his commitment to conservation. The proposed 420 million dollar highway would link the plains of Beni to Chapare. If built, it would pass through indigenous territory and national parks. Marie-Claire Fennessy, Reuters