OROMOMO - Bolivia's leftist government opened a consultation process on Sunday with indigenous people to decide the fate of a proposed highway that has drawn sharp criticism on environmental grounds.
The government will take until mid-September to consult 69 communities in the Isiboro Secure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), where work on the middle section of the 185-mile (300 km) road has been halted for nearly a year.
Fierce opposition to the $420 million highway has put President Evo Morales at odds with his indigenous support base. The road is at the heart of the president's drive to boost infrastructure investment in the impoverished nation.
"The state will respect the decisions and opinions of the inhabitants of TIPNIS," Minister of Water and the Environment Felipe Quispe said.