LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales on Monday asked miners not to impose their demands with dynamite or roadblocks, after once again lamenting the five deaths caused by the conflict sparked by mining cooperatives.
Morales made his plea during a meeting at Government Palace with the workers’ union of the state-run Colquiri mine, which is against the mining cooperatives.
“Reason must rule, not feelings. I say once again that concessions cannot be won with dynamite or roadblocks,” the president said.
He added that, in line with his own experience as head of the coca growers union, “it’s not worth abusing the strength of a union, it’s not worth abusing the social strength of any sector.”
“Union strength and power must be cared for, it’s the workers’ heritage. We can’t impose our feelings or false arguments or use dynamite – reason must rule,” the president told the unionized Colquiri miners.
Before he was elected president of Bolivia, Morales headed many highway blockades to defend coca crops and issues of social justice.
The president promised “tough investigations, I don’t care who gets caught,” to find out who killed the five people last week, including Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes, slain by the mining cooperatives.
The Justice Ministry ordered the arrest that day of nine miners charged with killing Illanes, among them the president of the National Federation of Mining Cooperatives, or Fencomin, Carlos Mamani, and the vice president of that organization, Agustin Choque.
The miners are still locked up and in the next few hours will be transferred either to the Chonchocoro maximum security prison or to Patacamaya Prison in the Andean highlands.
With their protests, the Fencomin miners demand the revoking of a law that allows labor unions to organize in the cooperatives, considering unions harmful for their business.