Protests are building in Bolivia over hydrocarbon exploration which indigenous groups say will contaminate their water. As Rudi Bakhtiar reports, the issue has triggered clashes this week, with more expected.
It was the latest confrontation in an ongoing fight between indigenous groups and the Bolivian government. Police used tear gas and arrested 26 protestors to clear angry protesters from a key trade route in the region. At issue....a decree by President Evo Morales to allow hydrocarbon exploration in native lands and national parks. Witnesses say authorities were destroying vehicles, entering into private homes and using children to provoke arrests. SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) UNIDENTIFIED INDIGENOUS WOMAN, SAYING: "We were away from it all, my daughter was in the other room, my baby was asleep, and they launched tear gas and broke the windows." Indigenous leaders complain they were not consulted by the state-run oil and gas company about the exploration plans, which they say threaten to contaminate their water and effect the environment. Morales has vowed to continue with hydrocarbon exploration. With indigenous groups from other parts of Bolivia and Argentina threatening to join the protests... The standoff is not likely to end any time soon.