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  • Bolivia leads the way with Indigenous rights.

    Bolivia leads the way with Indigenous rights. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 January 2017

The act marks a historic step for Bolivia's multicultural state.

About 50 local Guarani state officials, national authorities and international representatives celebrated the first Autonomous Indigenous Government in Bolivia Sunday, which is about take power in the province of Charagua, in the eastern region of Santa Cruz.

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"Today, autonomy has been officially consolidated," said senior captain of North Charanga Ronald Andres Garaica during the ceremony.

"We are burying a traditional, discriminatory, excluding system where only a few families held political and economic power," he added.

U.N. representatives, Ecuadorean Indigenous leaders, and the Chinese ambassador, among other diplomats, took part in the inaugural act, reported the vice minister of Autonomies and Territorial Organization, Gonzalo Vargas, as well as Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera.

Linera commented that the moment was not only historical for Bolivia, but also for Latin America and the world, recalling the long-standing discrimination and suffering of Indigenous peoples.

"Guarani people arrived in Bolivia about 700 years ago, coming from Paraguay, and actively participated in the struggle for independence," he added, confirming that President Evo Morales will support the new government with the relevant budget.

Last September, over 53 percent of the electorate in Charagua voted in a referendum in favor of turning the territory into an autonomous Indigenous territory — as allowed by the amended constitution of 2009.

As of next Monday, the province of Charangua with 32,000 residents — including 67 percent who identify as "Indigenous" — will be under a campesino and Guarani authority.

However, the province's autonomy will not affect the work of the police, armed forces, nor other state institutions, and will continue to abide by national legislation.

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