Protesters in Bolivia End Strike

Protesters in Bolivia End Strike

August 23, 2010

The city of Potosi, Bolivia gradually returned to normal after protesters ended a 19-day strike that had paralyzed the region.   The strike had blockaded the town of Potosi, cutting off bus, rail and air travel for almost three weeks.

The Bolivian government and protesters reached a 6-point agreement that includes provisions to improve roads and build a new international airport.

Potosi was once the silver capital of South America.  It was said to rival London or Paris in size and splendor.  But Potosi’s fortunes have waned, and there is widespread feeling there that the central government has failed to invest in the region.

In particular, many protesters believe the government has done an inadequate job of developing alternative industries to mining.  Mines continue to be the major employers in the region, but safety standards are low and there are few alternative options for employment.

A new form of income from mining has developed in recent years – mine tours.  Tourists can pay to tour the mines and view the conditions for themselves.  Whether this is education or exploitation is a interesting question.  For a very thoughtful discussion of this issue, check out the Two Backpackers blog entry:

http://www.twobackpackers.com/3586/south-america/ethics-tourism-mines-potosi-bolivia/

For now, the situation in Potosi appears to be stable.  It is unlikely that a strike of similar magnitude will re-occur any time soon.  While travelers should always check local conditions, it seems reasonable that normal travel can resume to Potosi.

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