The following was published in the Cochabamba daily newspaper Opinión on Monday, in anticipation of today’s arrival of Pope Francis to Bolivia. The author is Gastón Cornejo Bascopé, President of the Geographical and Historical Society of Cochabamba It gives a picture both of the variety of environmental issues and the sharp tongue of the press in Bolivia:
Pope Francis, let me tell you: “The Rocha river is contaminated; K’ara K’ara is an infectious dump; the Laguna Alalay is putrid; Misicuni [dam] will never be finished, with neither a potable water nor sewage network to connect to; the Batán stadium will be an anti-environmental bomb; the 2750m altitude border of Tunari Park is totally overrun and the urbanized land within covers up the recharge of [the city’s] aquifers; the enormously overinflated automobile fleet is a polluting tragedy; the hills of La Coronilla and San Pedro are overrun; the native indigenous movement in TIPNIS has been ridiculed and cheated; the Villa Tunari-San Ignacio de Moxos highway will wound Isiboro Sécure; there is coca planting in the service of drug traffic; deforestation serves the coca growers and the lumber business; Lake Titicaca is severely polluted; the [proposed] nuclear reactor in Viacha would kill the inhabitants of this country and its neighbors; heavy trucking violates the constitution and the environment; the Supreme Decree 2366 goes against 22 parks and protected areas and the constitution in the service of nonrenewable petroleum; the trade in animals is unforgivable and unconstitutional; the brick works and bonfires produce a stench in Cochabamba; pollution of the air is uncontrolled; the Pilcomayo river is polluted; 50% of El Choré has been deforested for coca planting; coca is made into cocaine in the Amboró national park; there are cocaine preparation pits in Tunari Park; the Poopó and Uru Uru lakes have been polluted by 300 mining cooperatives in Oruro; the mega-dams on the Madera River are permitted by international agreement; GMOs and biofuels are on the march; the narcotraffickers threaten fishing and contaminate four towns; there were 60,000 forest fires that scorched 4.8 million hectares in 2010; the urbanization of agricultural lands is severe in Tiquipaya; in the south of Cochabamba’s central valley the laws on Misicuni dam and agriculture are not respected; the total absence of an urban growth plan has been denounced, due to a lack of qualified personnel in the city government.”There, we have thirty unforgivable projects of absolutely proven contemporary ecocide; some in active execution, others schedule for implementation, and still others in the medium term.…All those who have a mouth, lips, a tongue, vocal cords in their larynx, bellows in their lungs, pencils and computers in their hands, and blood in their hearts — onwards to denounce, write, debate, and issue spasms against the sins mentioned in your Encyclical, against those irresponsible for the future of their children and grandchildren and those who will leave a world in collapse, reheated and suffocated, or rather burst. And afterwards, they the whitewashed sepulcres of contemporary society will gather and applaud Pope Francisco. Very well, Holy Father, a thousand pardons, I have stirred up thousands of enemies with my big and gossipy mouth.
Original article in Opinión, July 6, 2015.