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Minister 'hostage' in road protest

Sunday, September 25, 2011 - 01:32

Sept.25 - Bolivia's foreign minister is briefly taken prisoner during a protest march against a highway through a rainforest reserve. Paul Chapman reports.

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Bolivian anti-riot police road blocks are no match for indigenous Amazon protesters in their fight to stop plans for a highway through their rainforest region. The marchers briefly took the country's foreign minister hostage to help force their way through en route to La Paz. He'd been trying to negotiate an end to the protests. SOUNDBITE: Bolivia's Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca saying (Spanish): "I don't know what the situation is but I've been forced. I'm not here by my own volition," (HE SAID). "I've offered them a series of alternatives and I have told them that I would go there but they say they don't believe. You hear them. But I've been forced." The 600-kilometre march from the Amazon plains to the capital began in August. The protesters say the 420 million dollar road favoured by the nation's coca growers will destroy their hunting and fishing lifestyle in the protected rainforest. Bolivian President Evo Morales fuelled their anger in June when he said the road would be built whether they liked it or not. The controversy has put Morales on the defensive ahead of October's nationwide judicial elections which are part of wider reforms to give indigenous people a bigger say in state affairs. Paul Chapman, Reuters

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Minister 'hostage' in road protest

Sunday, September 25, 2011 - 01:32