Stories written by Franz Chávez
Franz Chávez has been an IPS Correspondent from Bolivia since November 2003. He covers Bolivian current affairs and the country’s dynamic transition from market-oriented government to government supported by indigenous people and low-income sectors of society. To provide adequate coverage of the complex Bolivian reality, especially for an international audience, Chávez tends to focus on those stories generally neglected by mainstream media, putting a special effort into contextualising events in what is currently one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Born in La Paz, Chávez worked for Radio Christal from 1985 to 1990, then joined the editorial team of the local television channels 2, 4, 7 and 11. He is also among the founders of the daily newspapers La Razón, where he worked from 1990 to 1995, La Prensa, where he worked from 1998 to 2001, and La Prensa-Oruro. Chávez studied sociology and communication at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés de La Paz.

Gasfield discovered by Repsol in Huacaya, 800 km southeast of La Paz.  Credit: IPS/Photostock

Bolivia Boosts Incentives for Foreign Oil Companies

Almost six years after the nationalisation of gas and oil reserves in Bolivia, foreign companies maintain an active presence in the sector, and the government is now offering them greater incentives to increase oil production.

BOLIVIA: Artificial ‘Islands’ to Protect Cattle from Annual Floods

Small-scale dairy farmers in this remote area of Bolivia's northeastern Amazon region of Beni have a new hope for protecting their livestock from the fierce annual floods that start in December.

AGRICULTURE-BOLIVIA: Adapting to the Floods

Margarita Amabeja holds out her hands full of golden rice grains and rough brown manioc roots - the first results of a strategy to adjust the agricultural cycles to the seasonal floods and droughts in the vast plains of Beni, in northeastern Bolivia.

Andean Migrant Women Create Opportunities

Women make up a majority of migrants from South America's Andean region and they send more money home to their families than men, according to a study carried out in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

BOLIVIA: Native Protesters Celebrate Law Cancelling Rainforest Road

With victory cheers and predictions of future campaigns in defence of their ancestral territory, indigenous protesters from Bolivia's Amazon jungle region celebrated the new law that banned the construction of the road through their rainforest reserve.

BOLIVIA: General Strike Protests Crackdown on Native March

Bolivia's main trade union declared a 24-hour general strike Wednesday to protest Sunday's police crackdown on indigenous demonstrators who were protesting the construction of a road through a pristine rainforest preserve.

Giant water lilies (Victoria amazonica) in Bolivia's Moxos plains. Credit: Photostock

BOLIVIA: Rainforest Road Will Have Environmental and Cultural Impacts

A richly biodiverse rainforest the size of 3,000 soccer fields in central Bolivia will be the first victim of the road planned to run through the Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), say environmental activists.

Caricature of President Evo Morales saying "More development, more roads!"  Credit: Subcentral Tipnis

BOLIVIA: Morales Clashes with Native Protesters over Road through Tropical Park

The lack of regulations for consulting indigenous communities in Bolivia on initiatives that affect their territories is at the heart of a dispute over a road to facilitate traffic from Brazil, which would run through an enormous tropical national park self-governed by indigenous communities.

BOLIVIA: Amazon Road Plan Has Native People on the March Again

Indigenous people in the eastern lowlands of Bolivia are again preparing to make the long march to La Paz, 21 years after their first such protest. They have vowed to make the trek in defence of their lands, which they say are threatened by plans for a highway to be built with the backing of the Brazilian government.

BOLIVIA: New Food Policy to Boost Small-Scale Farms

In the midst of heated debate with agribusiness, the Bolivian government has launched an agricultural production model aimed at boosting food sovereignty by supporting small farmers, in order to generate surpluses to cushion the swings in international food prices.

Lake Titicaca seen from Copacabana, Bolivia.  Credit: Public domain

BOLIVIA-PERU: Major Efforts Still Needed to Clean Up Lake Titicaca

Efforts to combat pollution in Lake Titicaca, which straddles the borders of Peru and Bolivia high up in the Andes mountains, have shown slightly better results in Puno Bay on the Peruvian side, but have barely made a difference in Cohana Bay on the Bolivian side, according to local fishers and specialists interviewed by Tierramérica.

From One Computer to Biggest Microfinance Bank in Bolivia

A non-governmental organisation set up by five women 25 years ago in Bolivia gave birth to what is now the largest microcredit bank in the country, catering to those otherwise marginalised from the financial system.

BOLIVIA: Women Fight Superstition, Machismo in Mining Cooperatives

Hundreds of women belonging to mining cooperatives in Bolivia are striving for the right to mine seams of tin and silver in the country's western highlands, where an age old superstition maintains that the presence of women "scares away" the minerals.

BOLIVIA: Deforestation Devours Rich Ecosystems

Occupations of land for agriculture over the last four decades in Bolivia, whether by individuals or in organised collective initiatives, have led to severe ecological damages and low levels of productivity because of the intensive use of machinery and the failure to take into account the limitations of the soil, said environmentalist Marco Ribera.

Piped water does not reach areas of Cochabamba where families like this one live in houses of clay.  Credit: Photostock/IPS

BOLIVIA: Cochabamba Still Thirsty

There is still no apparent solution to the unsatisfied demand for drinking water in Cochabamba, 11 years after this central Bolivian city made international headlines with a popular uprising that halted the privatisation of water service.

Piped water does not reach areas of Cochabamba where families like this one live in houses of clay. - Photostock/IPS

Cochabamba Still Thirsting for Water

In the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, scene of the 2000 “Water War”, both privatisation and public administration have failed to adequately provide citizens with this vital resource.

Bolivia's Madidi National Park is home to spectacular fauna and flora. Credit: Public domain

BOLIVIA: Madidi National Park and the Curse of Petroleum

Environmental organisations in Bolivia are waging a crusade to protect Madidi National Park against bids to tap into its petroleum reserves, build hydroelectric dams and promote human settlement in the country's largest nature preserve.

Brazil Keeps a Grip on Bolivia’s Natural Gas Industry

Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobrás maintains a solid and vigorous presence in natural gas production within Bolivian territory, even with the nationalisation of petroleum and gas in 2006 led by Bolivia's left-wing President Evo Morales.

The Evo Morales government aims for more state-run enterprises. Credit: Movimiento al Socialismo

ECONOMY-BOLIVIA: Private Sector Gives Way Under Government’s Public Push

The decline in foreign direct investment and the increase in efforts to reverse privatisation processes are feeding debate in Bolivia about President Evo Morales's economic policies, which include the creation of more government- run enterprises.

BOLIVIA: UN Calls for Broad Pact on Children’s Needs

A national pact to focus on the rights of children was proposed by United Nations representative in Bolivia Yoriko Yasukawa on the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Zulema Lehm  Credit: Franz Chávez /IPS

Q&A: Native Women in Bolivia’s Lowlands Build Leadership Skills

In the northeastern Bolivian department (province) of Beni, a region of wetlands, savannah and jungle where three-quarters of the population lives in poverty, indigenous women are building a new kind of leadership to help develop their communities.

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