LA PAZ – The Bolivian government and leaders of the Andean province of Potosi formally agreed to begin talks on Saturday in order to resolve the general strike that has paralyzed and isolated that region for the past 20 days.
Bolivian Cabinet chief Juan Ramon Quintana told media that the accord consists of working uninterruptedly starting this afternoon so that everyone present can be heard without exception.
Quintana made the announcement after a meeting with the head of the Potosi Civic Committee, or Comcipo, Jhonny Llally, and with leaders of the miners unions of the state and of mining cooperatives, which back Potosi in its demand for development projects.
The minister noted that talks will begin around 2:00 p.m. local time “in the best of conditions” and that what goes on in the negotiations may be reported by all media.
He said that after the negotiations, the conclusions will be presented to Bolivian President Evo Morales at a meeting with Comcipo leaders, who are leading the regional protest.
He also said a decision has been taken to “carry out all the necessary procedures” required by the Attorney General’s Office in order to free the four Potosi demonstrators, three miners and a journalist who have been under arrest since Wednesday on charges of causing destruction during a protest.
With the strike, locals demand major public works projects for Potosi, including the construction of a hydroelectric dam, three hospitals, highways, glass and cement factories, an international airport, and the preservation of Cerro Rico mountain because it is the city’s main tourist attraction but has been seriously degraded by the mining industry.