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Story Publication logo November 8, 2021

Sugarcane Devours Tacana Indigenous Territory (Spanish)


stack of cut pine tree logs in a forest

In 11 years, a sugar company cut down more than 3,500 hectares of forest in Bolivia, affecting the...

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This story excerpt was translated from Spanish. To read the original story in full, visit La Brava. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Where animals such as the jochi, taitetú, turtles, lizards, monkeys and other wild species used to run freely, 124 hectares of sugarcane fields now dominate. Little remains of the lush forest that once surrounded Buena Vista, one of the 20 communities of the Tacana Indigenous Territory in the Amazon region of La Paz. Walking through this place, which is the equivalent of 173 soccer fields, means resisting the 35 degrees Celsius in spring. The lack of shade provided by the tall trees, which were razed five years ago, makes it difficult to walk.

The inhabitants tell that in this place, and in the urban part of the community, the temperature has been rising since 2016. That year, deforestation began in order to plant sugarcane to supply the state-owned San Buenaventura Sugar Company (EASBA), located in the municipality of San Buenaventura in the department of La Paz, which borders part of the Tacana 1 Community Land of Origin (TCO).

The area where the inhabitants of Buena Vista used to hunt. Image by Esmeralda Cartagena.

The sugarcane fields in Carmen Tahua are a few meters from the urban area. Image by Esmeralda Cartagena.

A Tacana collects water from the Maige stream in Tres Hermanos. Image by Rocío Condori.

Teresa Suárez, in the Maige stream of Tres Hermanos. Image by Rocío Condori.

On the road to the Tres Hermanos logging area. Image by Rocío Condori.

Contamination residues in the sediments of the Maige stream are still visible. Image by Rocío Condori.

Sandro Marupa, next to his handicrafts made with material from the forest. Image by Rocío Condori.

Sandro Marupa uses the trunks of adult chonta trees for his handicraft work. Image by Esmeralda Cartagena.

Sandro Marupa polishes a chonta ring. Image by Rocío Condori.