12,000 Miners Occupy the Center of La Paz, Bolivia

At around noon on June 7 about twelve thousand miners converged on the city of La Paz. They are determined to stay until the government approves a fund for reviving their industry. They are demanding $100 million for this purpose, and will stage daily marches and blockades if the demand is not met.

At around noon on June 7 about twelve thousand miners converged on the city of La Paz. They are determined to stay until the government approves a fund for reviving their industry. They are demanding $100 million for this purpose, and will stage daily marches and blockades if the demand is not met.

Fifteen years ago The miners played a major role in the siege of Calamarca. Then, they were on the verge of overthrowing the government. Like those
who entered La Paz yesterday morning by surprise, in 1986 there were also 12,000
protesters. Once again they have become the leaders of a huge march.

The morning of June 8 the miners again came out to protest in the center of La Paz, but this time they took over the supreme court building and
dynamited it. At the same time, another group of miners attempted to enter the five-star Hotel Presidente in order to settle accounts with high
officials.

The main part of the march tried to reach the legislature building but was brutally repulsed by a large number of police. Two miners were seriously
injured, one losing his foot and the other losing a hand. Dozens were detained. At present, the confrontation is intense, and the miners have
been able to force the police to retreat.

Every hundred meters the miners stopped and set off small sticks of dynamite. “We have come back to La Paz, just as we said we would in 1985.
Now we intend to stay until they listen to us,” said Cresencio Huanca, a union leader.

For several months, thousands of small debtors have been staging daily protest demonstrations calling for total cancellation of their bank loans.
They accuse the financial institutions of usury and the government of favoring the rich with credit preferences.

On June 7 a general highway blockage was also begun. A thousand large trucks began blocking the main roads connecting Bolivia with Chile, Peru
and Brazil. The number of trucks involved is expected to triple in the next few days, according to an official report from the Department of
Transportation (Cmara Boliviana de Transporte, CBT).

Beginning on Sunday they will block all types of motorized traffic and will continue indefinitely until the government deals with their 13
demands. Among these is a call for the government to de-privatize the highways and to ensure their maintenance.

On June 11 an indefinite general strike is set to begin in the Chonchocoro maximum security prison to demand better living conditions. Ways are being studied for spreading the strike to all of the country’s prisons.

One of the miners’ demands is for $100 million to finance the revival of 514 mining cooperatives nationwide. These include 50,000 members and provide a livelihood for 300,000 people. They produce tin, silver, wolfram and gold,
accounting for 35 percent of the country’s mineral exports.

In addition, the protesters are asking for new rights to mine on government land, and government concessions similar to those given to the
multinationals. They want a single tax and access to the stores and reserves of Comibol, the state mining concern, electrification of their facilities, equipment and machinery from the former Mining Bank (Banco Minero), and a nationwide law covering mining contracts.

The miners are also calling for improvements in the highway system, housing, short- and
long-term social insurance, debt forgiveness and elimination of the Mining Ministry. They are demanding participation in the management of Comibol.

Author: Juventudes Libertarias (Anarchist Youth), Bolivia

News Service: a-infos-en24 V1 #494

URL: http://www.ainfos.ca/