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Story Publication logo August 14, 2023

Bolivian Guardian Interview Series: “The Miners Have Threatened To Kill Me and Have Taken Me Out of Madidi.”


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In the Bolivian Amazon jungle, Indigenous guardians fight against deforestation, fires, drug...

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This story excerpt was translated from Spanish. To read the original story in full, visit Revista Nómadas. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website. Our website is available in EnglishSpanishbahasa IndonesiaFrench, and Portuguese.

Image courtesy of Revista Nómadas. Bolivia, 2023.

Marcos Uzquiano, the courageous head of protection at the Beni Biosphere Reserve Biological Station, faces a dangerous enemy: illegal miners who threaten the lives of park rangers and the biodiversity of Madidi, the most biodiverse protected area in the world. In this interview, Marcos reveals the dark secrets behind his tireless fight to protect the forest and how the miners put pressure on the Bolivian government to move him to another place where he makes "less noise".

Q. How much does it cost to protect the forest?

That is a good question. However, in terms of effort and resources, I think it is invaluable. There is the effort made mainly by the park rangers, the effort of the State, where social and community efforts are also added; then, basically to be able to determine an economic cost is difficult, almost impossible, because it is a very complex task, which involves many factors, not only economic, operational and technical. Above all, it is a commitment.

Q. You have worked in several protected areas. You have become an icon in the defense of the forests, even risking your life. What does this task involve and what enemies have you encountered?

I have had the good fortune to serve in the National Service of Protected Areas, I had the opportunity to work most of my career in Madidi National Park and I come from there. I have also provided support through exchanges in Apolobamba IMNA in my first years as a park ranger, then I was head of protection and also interim director for a month. The TIPNIS has also been one of the most important areas in which I have been able to lend my services.

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Uzquiano, defender of life. Image courtesy of Revista Nómadas. Bolivia, 2023,


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