Threatened with blockade by Pilcomayo river diversion

A town hall meeting held yesterday in Villamontes, Tarija, determined to give a five-day ultimatum to both departmental and national authorities to address the issues surrounding the Pilcomayo River, situated on the border with Argentina and Paraguay.

“The Weenhayek people and Villamontes will initiate indefinite border blockades if Decree 0900 issued a year ago, outlining actions against pollution and the diversion of the Pilcomayo River, which has left it devoid of fish, is not adhered to. The local population depends solely on fishing for subsistence,” stated Wendy Casanova, legal advisor to the Weenhayek people.

The Pilcomayo River in the Villamontes area, Tarija, is the only place where the sábalo fish spawn their eggs. However, some time ago, they ceased to do so due to the high level of pollution it endures. Furthermore, it was noted that in Argentina, a project named ‘La Estrella’ is responsible for retaining fish and water to prevent their arrival on the Bolivian side. Paraguay has done something similar, diverting water and fish towards its territory.

Given this situation, the Bolivian population residing near the Pilcomayo declared a state of emergency and, in the absence of a solution, held the town hall meeting to set a deadline for the assistance they need. Otherwise, starting from Monday, they will begin road blockades at the southern borders.