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Cablegate: Vice Minister of Environment Describes

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FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
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INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6257
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3578
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7439
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 4700
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RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS LA PAZ 003019

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/AND LPETRONI AND OES/PCI LSPERLING
BRASILIA FOR JSTORY AND LSTONER
COMMERCE FOR JANGLIN
TREASURY FOR SGOOCH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PREL PGOV BL
SUBJECT: VICE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT DESCRIBES
"COSMOCENTRIC-HOLISTIC" VISION

REF: LA PAZ 2431

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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) Bolivia's vice minister of environment recently
described a "cosmocentric-holistic" vision of environmental
management, declaring that the state should direct a
collective development process to ensure shared, broadly
beneficial access to natural resources. The vice minister
argued that indigenous groups should play a greater role in
decision making and assume more responsibility for
conservation and natural resource use. Threats to
biodiversity and once pristine lakes and rivers reportedly
top the vice minister's list of concerns, but the vice
ministry appears to lack the organizational and financial
capacity to effectively address environmental issues.

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A NEW, COSMOCENTRIC-HOLISTIC VISION
-----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Bolivian Vice Minister of Biodiversity, Forest
Resources, and Environment Juan Carlos Iporre recently
described a "cosmocentric-holistic" vision of environmental
management, telling Econoff November 6 that the state should
direct a collective development process to ensure shared,
broadly beneficial access to natural resources. According to
Iporre, the state should be a "development patron" committed
to extending social participation to the environmental realm,
with the aim of ensuring that indigenous groups and the
public enjoy access to natural resources, derive benefits
from their use, and participate in the "intellectual and
spiritual development" of the individual and community in
harmony with nature.

3. (SBU) The vice minister placed special emphasis on
indigenous groups, arguing that they should play a greater
role in decision making and assume more responsibility for
conservation and natural resource use. Iporre said he
believed a "communitarian" model of decision making and
environmental management was appropriate for Bolivia's new
"social revolution," as it would allow for increased
recognition of the special knowledge of indigenous groups and
social movements. The vice minister highlighted Bolivia's
remarkable biodiversity, noting its position among the 15
most biodiverse countries in the world, and argued that
indigenous peoples' historical relationship to and intimate
understanding of that diversity should enhance state-led
efforts to sustainably harness natural resources for
broad-based economic growth.

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COMMENT
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4. (SBU) Threats to biodiversity and once pristine lakes and
rivers reportedly top Iporre's list of concerns, but the vice
ministry appears to lack the organizational and financial
capacity to effectively address environmental issues. Iporre
recognized, for example, that invasions of national parks and
protected areas by landless peasants and other groups,
including farmers and ranchers, pose serious threats to the
survival of plant and animal species but lacked plans for
stopping the incursions; having led a land-rights group in
his hometown of Rurrenabaque, an isolated community in
Bolivia's northwest, Iporre may have little inclination to
confront the problem.

5. (SBU) Iporre raised no objection to the GOB's late August
threat to "nationalize" national parks and stood silently by

while GOB officials talked of expelling non-governmental
organizations and using the military to protect park borders
(reftel); in response to critics' arguments that troops would
do more harm than good, Iporre said nothing. As he waits,
land invasions continue, and risks to national parks
increase. Bolivian "colonists" have provided no evidence of
enhanced environmental stewardship, and their land seizures
will likely continue to threaten natural resources,
particularly as conservation gives way to slash-and-burn
agricultural techniques.

6. (SBU) Plans for rehabilitating Lake Titicaca and the badly
polluted Pilcomayo River, meanwhile, are largely absent;
Iporre appears more concerned with resolving internal
organizational issues than with addressing pressing
environmental matters. Many hope Iporre's
"cosmocentric-holistic" vision allows for the natural
resource conservation he claims to favor, lest the state's
attempt to adopt "communitarian" principles destroy years of
relatively successful environmental management. Some fear,
moreover, that rapidly modernizing indigenous groups may lose
patience with Iporre's "cosmocentric" vision, particularly if
it fails to generate concrete change in their daily lives;
for the indigenous, the landless, and the dispossessed,
"cosmocentric" may not necessarily be the way to go.
GOLDBERG

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