Bolivia's Evo Morales Talks of Media Upheaval over Forest Fires

President has made concessions to deforestation of country; fire has already consumed 500 thousand hectares

La Paz

Fires that have been raging in Bolivia's Santa Cruz de la Sierra region for the last three weeks have already consumed 500,000 hectares of the forest. Asked by Folha, in Oruro, last Wednesday (21) about the fires, Morales said that "there is a lot of media upheaval, I've been to the region and is already being controlled."

President Evo Morales traveled to the city of Roboré, part of the affected region, last Monday (19), and oversaw the delivery of food and medicine to residents. "Whatever you need, we'll bring it," Morales said.

The next day, helicopters and airplanes traveled to the region for aid in firefighting.

(190819) -- SANTA CRUZ, Evo Morales, in Roboré, (Xinhua/ABI) (ab) (vf) (ce)

Morales also said the department of Beni, where most of Bolivia's Amazon territory is located, that "it is important to control the burning, because the families of small producers if they do not do it, will have nothing to live for."

Environmental protection agencies, the Bolivian opposition, and residents of the affected region do not agree with the president's views.

Chiquitania is a tourist area of the country, where ruins of Jesuit missions are located. It's also a UNESCO heritage site. The region suffers from a drought, so strong winds are helping to spread the fires.

Morales is campaigning for the October presidential election. If he wins, he will go to his fourth term (he has been in power since 2006). 

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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