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Project June 24, 2021

The Sugarcane Siege on Tacana Indigenous Territory



This project will investigate the acceleration of deforestation in the Tacana Indigenous territory of the Amazon region of La Paz as a result of sugarcane production by the Empresa Azucarera San Buenaventura (EASBA), located in the municipality of San Buenaventura, Bolivia, and examine the deforestation's impact on Tacana Indigenous communities.

Since there are plans to expand the agricultural frontier to include 17,000 hectares of sugarcane plantations, deforestation has devastated part of the rainforest in the municipalities of San Buenaventura and Ixiamas in La Paz, and is extending to Rurrenabaque and Reyes in the department of Beni.

With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, deforestation worsened in the Tacana communities of San Buenaventura and Ixiamas. According to Alex Villca, from the National Coordinator for the Defense of Peasant Originary Indigenous Territories and Protected Areas of Bolivia (CONTIOCAP), several trucks left La Paz for Beni loaded with timber during the rigid quarantine period (March to June 2020) without any oversight.

Deforestation—both legal and illegal—does not benefit Indigenous communities, as they receive little income from the sale of timber. Therefore, it is important to investigate how trees are cut down and the consequences that has for the Tacana communities in terms of health, economy, food, and social structure.

This reporting will be done collaboratively by journalist Karen Gil, from digital magazine La Brava, and local journalists Rafael Acuña and Esmeralda Cartagena of Mega TV.