Bolivian natives enter La Paz after march from Amazon

October 19, 2011

Hundreds of indigenous people made a triumphal entry into La Paz Wednesday at the end of a two-month march from the Amazon to oppose the construction of a highway through their ancestral homeland.

The marchers, nearly 2,000 of whom set out in August and trekked 600 kilometers (370 miles) from the lowlands high into the , were greeted as heroes as they entered the city accompanied by groups of workers and students.

People lining the streets waved Bolivian flags and white handkerchiefs, and cheered and applauded as the Indians passed.

Police and a riot control vehicle were withdrawn from the plaza outside the presidential palace as a gesture of goodwill, and President Evo Morales's information minister extended an official welcome to the protesters.

The Indians are protesting plans to build a road through the pristine Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory that would level an inhabited by 50,000 native people from three different native groups.

Although the project has been suspended, the marchers want it killed for good.

Facing the biggest challenge yet from fellow Indians in his five years in office, Morales offered late Tuesday to meet with them for talks upon their arrival.

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