February 10, 2007
About 20,000 Bolivian miners who belong to small co-operatives agreed to a compromise over the tax payments they are obliged to pay, and have called off their protest in La Paz. Many of these miners utilize sticks of dynamite to intimidate security forces. (Just think: protests can force the government to alter tax policy!) As part of the settlement, the government promised to set up a $10 million investment fund for the mining coops. President Evo Morales denied reports that he was trying to "stamp out" the independent miners. This was a strange political challenge to Morales, who has enjoyed strong support among most but not all of the country's poor Indian workers. Now that he is president, however, his interests coincide with those of the state-owned mines, which have faced a sharp increase in trespassing by "wildcat" miners. See BBC and my Oct. 6 post for some background.