TODAY: On the 19th day of striking Bolivian miners reached an accord with government officials. Strikers, that included the region’s Governor and local Mayor, met with representatives of President Evo Morales and reached several accords most importantly the government agreed to give “priority” to building a local airport to increase tourism in the area and thereby creating more jobs. The blockades that virtually shut down the city were removed and stranded tourists were able to leave the region, all unharmed.
UPDATE: As the Bolivian miner strike enters its 15th day the majority of stranded tourists have escaped but negative international reaction is expected to hurt Bolivia’s economy. Of the estimated 100 foreign tourists stranded in Potosi, Bolivia, 70 have escaped thus far. Yesterday, five Australians managed to escape by bribing local taxi drivers to smuggle them out of the region.
The strike which is virtually holding the mining town of Potosi hostage has resulted in road blockades and protesters shutting down many local mines, most of which are foreign owned or operated, in the region. Yesterday, the strikers took over the San Cristobal mine, a Japanese silver mining operation which is the third largest silver producer in the world. If the strike continues international silver production and pricing will be negatively effected. Thus far France and England have issued travel alerts to the region and other foreign-owned businesses in Bolivia are questioning their commitment to invest in the country, all of which hurt Bolivia’s economy.
ORIGINAL STORY: The mining state of Potosi, Bolivia remains blockaded with everyone from residents to union leaders to the Governor steadfast in their commitment to get the government’s attention. Approximately 6,000 people are on a hunger strike there and have cut high way and railway links to Chile and Argentina while setting up blockades entrapping hundreds of tourists.
The residents of this southern Bolivian city have had enough and want President Evo Morales to listen to their demands for more investment in their region. In 2007 Bolivian miners took over the town of Cochabamba demanding the governor’s resignation which resulted in three deaths.
The French government has interceded in the matter since 56 French tourists were caught in the melee. The French government is a large investor in Bolivia’s lithium mines and stated the unrest could threaten investment in the future.