The international boycott of Botswana’s tourism industry kicked off this week with one of the Spanish tour travel agency confirming to Sunday Standard that it has cancelled trips of tourists who were planning to visit the country. The campaign to boycott the country’s tourism industry was recently launched by London based human rights organisation Survival International which accuses the Botswana Government of persecuting Basarwa tribesmen. Responding to Sunday Standard enquiries, Chairman and Managing Director of Horizonte Paralelo (a Spanish travel agency) Pablo Rodríguez Martinez confirmed that “It´s true, we have joined the Botswana government tourist boycott promoted by Survival International. It seems a proportionate measure to respond to the victimization of Basarwa people.” “We suffered a lot to learn of the so degrading treatment of the population of the Kalahari Nature Reserve by the government (even with judicial rulings in their favor),” said Martinez. He paid tribute to the Survival International’s office in Spain which informed their agency “about the situation of Basarwa and the relocation proposed by the government, without taking into account the requests of people and their ancient culture (Basarwa living in the Kalahari Desert from 20,000 years, and that they ‘are the sons and daughters of the first humans on the planet’.”
“We are totally against harassment. Since 1986, Botswana authorities have been persecuting Basarwa tribes; destruction of wells, prohibition of hunting and gathering, decimating water reserves... for the sole purpose of pressurizing people to displace them from areas rich in diamond deposits,” he said. Martinez said they believe that no government in the world has the right to expel and evict inhabitants from their lands; their roots with a purely economic objective. In the best case, our brothers (Basarwa), the only solution they receive is the obligation to live in camps, where alcoholism, depression and AIDS, destroys them, losing their culture, said Martinez. “Horizonte Paralelo, is an travel agency that tries to promote, in their proposed trip, responsible tourism with the environment both as to culture and human beings,” he said. Martinez added that “…we were preparing trips to Botswana, but have been canceled until the government reconsider its shameful conduct and takes action towards a Culture of Peace,” he said.
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