Last week, a protest broke out in a rural area of Bolivia near Potosi in reaction to the activities of Canadian mining company South American Silver Corp. The company plans to open up mines and has been performing exploration missions in order to begin extracting materials from the area around 2014 or 2015, CBC News reports.
Although the company claims that it has obtained agreements from most of the indigenous people in the area, it appears that at least a few communities in the area are concerned for the environmental impact of mining procedures on the land.
Some officials have stated that during the protest that erupted last Thursday evening, at least six individuals were injured. Over the weekend, officials announced that a local farmer had also died, but they claimed he had died from a dynamite accident while he was drunk, BBC News reports.
Quechua protesters had reportedly taken five hostages from the mining camp in the protests last week. Three of these detainees were released later on Friday. The other two have not been located.
Bolivian president Evo Morales has stated that he is considering nationalizing the Canadian mining company’s project, named Malku Khota. The company claims it has already invested at least $50 million into the project. The Vancouver Sun quotes Morales’s stance on the issue:
Nationalization is our obligation, I already raised the issue of nationalizing (the Malku Khota project) last year, and I told (local residents) to reach an agreement, because when they want we’re going to nationalize.
Protesters hope the president takes their side and have continued to protest throughout the country, even demonstrating in La Paz in recent weeks. Indigenous demonstrators have continued to rail against police forces, which have responded with water cannons and tear gas. Here’s a short video that shows some of the unrest in Bolivia in recent weeks:
Photo Credit: Raphael Saulus