‘After the fire, the media did not talk about the aftermath,’ Guarani communicator says

Photo of Diego Encinas taken by Jessica Peñaloza Cladera for Rising Voices.

A group of 11 young people from various Indigenous and Afro-Bolivian communities in the Gran Chaco region in Bolivia participated in the workshop entitled “Roipea Taperai” (“Opening Paths,” in the Guaraní language). The workshop focused on the terms used in Bolivian media when reporting on climate change or Indigenous peoples in the region (more about the workshop is available to read here). What follows is an interview with one of the participants in this workshop.

Diego Encinas is from the village of Charagua, located in the Cordillera province, south of the department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. He is currently taking the second module of the Escuela de Periodismo Indígena (School of Indigenous Journalism) in his region. He is proud to be part of the Guaraní people.

For him, the media should follow what happens after breaking news is recorded, especially if it is about disasters. He recalls that after the fires of 2019, the media paid attention to the Gran Chaco, but once the fire was mitigated, they forgot to cover the consequences of those fires, which affected flora, fauna, and the Indigenous communities. During his participation in the Roipea Taperai workshop, he shared his reflections on the role of the media in reporting on climate change in the Gran Chaco.

Word cloud for the terms “Chaco” and “communities” generated by Media Cloud.

Rising Voices (RV): During the workshop participants chose a word cloud and identified words. In your case, you chose the cloud resulting from the search for “Chaco” and “communities”. Within that cloud, you identified the term “slash and burn” to reflect on. In that sense, how have you seen those terms represented in the media, what has caught your attention in the word cloud?

Diego Encinas (DE): La palabra que me llamó la atención en la nube de palabras que me tocó analizar  fue «quemas»… Los medios de comunicación han representado el término principalmente por las palabras que se mencionan como pueblos indígenas, avasallamiento, quema y chaqueos […] 

Diego Encinas (DE): The word that caught my attention in the word cloud was “fires”… The media has represented that term mainly by the words “indigenous peoples”, “land and property occupation,” “subjugation,” “slash and burn” […].

RV: What words should a word cloud have for the terms you chose?

DE: Considero que debería incluirse los temas: salud, protección, refugio a las comunidades afectadas por el incendio y ayuda humanitaria, entre otras.

Destaco la frase «ayuda humanitaria» porque es lo que más necesitan los pueblos indígenas. En las noticias se informó sobre los incendios, sí se habló del impacto ambiental, pero luego de la quema no se habló nada sobre las consecuencias o la ayuda [que podrían necesitar] los pueblos indígenas.

DE: I believe that the following topics should be included: health, protection, shelter for the communities affected by fires, and humanitarian aid, among others.

I emphasize the phrase “humanitarian aid” because it is what Indigenous peoples need most. The media reported on the fires, and they did talk about the environmental impact, but after the fires nothing was said about the consequences or the help [that the indigenous peoples might need].

RV: What is not being told or talked about in the media in your area?

DE: Lo que no se cuenta sobre el tema del cambio climático, por ejemplo, es que estamos sufriendo por el agua, que hay una sequía muy fuerte.

DE: What is not being said about the issue of climate change, for example, is that we are suffering because of [the lack of] water, there is a very severe drought.

RV: What examples of damaging or incorrect information have you seen in the media or social networks about your area?

DE: Se habla mucho de la explotación del gas y de los hidrocarburos y se dice que generan grandes cantidades de dinero para Bolivia y que hay un gran progreso en la zona, lo cual es erróneo. Para la zona no trae desarrollo trae desastre, porque se ha visto en muchas comunidades que la sísmica […] trae muchas consecuencias para los animales y para nosotros. El pueblo guaraní se caracteriza por vivir en comunión con la naturaleza, pero tras todas estas explosiones eso se rompe […]

DE: There is a lot of talk about the exploitation of gas and hydrocarbons and it is said that they generate large amounts of money for Bolivia and that there is great progress in the area, which is wrong. It does not bring development to the area, it brings disaster, because it has been seen in many communities that explosive activity […] brings many consequences for the animals and for us. The Guaraní people are characterized by living in communion with nature, but after all these explosions this is broken […].

RV: What do you want the people of the Gran Chaco to know about climate change in the region?

DE: Que estamos en una época de gran sequía, no llueve desde diciembre hasta ahora (julio) nosotros en los pueblos indígenas estamos sufriendo mucho porque vivimos de la siembra y de la pesca. 

DE: We are in a time of great drought, it has not rained since December until now (July), we in the indigenous peoples are suffering a lot because we live from farming and fishing.

RV: What do you want the people of Bolivia and the world to know about climate change in your area?

DE: Que en la parte del Chaco se está viendo una gran sequía y esto es recurrente porque el año 2019 con el gran incendio. Luego vienen estaciones muy secas o muy heladas o la gran sequía que se está viendo hoy día y eso afecta al Chaco Boliviano y a parte empeora con los incendios forestales.

DE: That in the Chaco region we are seeing a great drought and this is recurrent because of the great fire in 2019. Then come very dry or very frosty seasons or the great drought that is being seen today and that affects the Bolivian Chaco and part worsens with forest fires.

The Roipea Taperai media literacy workshop was held on July 2 and 3, 2022 in the town of Charagua, located in the south of the department of Santa Cruz (Bolivia). It was promoted by Global Voices, a partner of the Fundación Avina, in the project “Exploring and shifting narratives on climate change in the Gran Chaco” within the framework of the global project “Voices for Just Climate Action.” For this workshop, Global Voices collaborated with the School of Indigenous Journalism, a project carried out by the ORÉ – Legal and Social Support Organization.
Jessica Peñaloza Cladera participated in the interview with Diego Encinas.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.