False promises

When Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, entered government in 2006, he promised to defend the natural world. He soon passed ‘The Law of Rights Of Mother Earth’, which promised to expand ecological protection on all fronts as well as supporting the rights of indigineous peoples. In the world’s eyes, Morales was a protector of Mother Earth.

Supporters of Evo Morales’s 2014 campaign trail

Environmental harm

Despite these important promises and a political persona built on conservationism, his administration has approved many environmentally damaging activities. These include; large scale dam projects, major new roads that intersect indigineous territories and extensive oil and gas exploration within nationally protected areas.

Mining works in Bolivia desecrate tropical forests

Demand for agriculture

By far the biggest threat to Bolivia’s ecosystems is the rapid expansion of the agricultural sector. In 2019 the administration signed a trade deal to supply beef to China, a market of 1.4 billion people. Recently, Morales presented a livestock development plan to the industry which projected increased land use for livestock by an enormous 7 million hectares.

Tropical forests cleared to create arable land

Incentives to burn lands

Morales’s administration has systematically stripped away the legal protections against burning forest areas. Fines are extremely minimal ($6.60 / acre) and the areas that people can burn have been legally quintupled. In addition to this, scandals have broken in the Bolivian media concerning cases of bribery; with pieces of arable land being traded in return for votes.

Why no national disaster?

As the fires rage out of control, Morales has dual incentives not to call for a national disaster. Firstly, the fires are conveniently clearing huge areas of land ripe for the agricultural industry. Secondly, with the elections for his 4th presidential turn approaching, Morales is desperate to seem in control. Calling a national disaster has the potential to undermine his presidency.

The price of money

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America. Morales’s administration has worked hard to utilise Bolivia’s land and natural resources to increase GDP and counteract high levels of national debt. As with any country that prioritises unbridled economic growth over the environment and human life, the ultimate question is; what is the cost of money? This is not just Bolivia’s poblem.

Discover how you can help…


Stand with us to protect Mother Earth.

Our Projects