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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK
Bolivian miners clash with troops
Bolivian mines
Miners want millions of dollars to kickstart the mine industry
Thousands of miners in Bolivia have spent a second day of protest blocking major roads across the country.

The miners have set up roadblocks in three states across the country as they demand a multi-million dollar investment by the state to "re-activate" Bolivia's mining industry.

The main highways between La Paz, Oruro, los Yungas, Cochabamba, and Potosi have been cut off. Reports say protestors may also have taken control of the railway system in the south of the country.

The government has described the miners' demand for $600m as astronomical and offered the miners one million dollars.

One miner died after being shot in the head as miners clashed with soldiers near Caracollo, 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of La Paz on Monday.

Raul Torres, leader of the miners' union Fencomin, said: "The soldiers provoked us. We weren't even blocking the road at the time of the confrontation."

More pressure

The secretary-general of Fencomin, Florencio Coca, said members of mining co-operatives had been very tolerant towards the government and this was misinterpreted as weakness and conformity.

He told El Diario newspaper that the union would "now demonstrate that we can also apply pressure and that we have realised this is the only mechanism available to us to ensure that the government pays attention to us".

Negotiations between the miners and the government have been suspended.

In February the government pledged to create a special fund to reactivate the mining industry by channelling funds to help launch projects.

The government says it has already put six million dollars towards subsidising mining of metals such as tin, zinc and lead.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Bolivia
23 May 03  |  Country profiles
IMF grants loan to Bolivia
03 Apr 03  |  Business
Bolivia shuffles government
20 Feb 03  |  Americas
Uneasy calm returns to Bolivia
14 Feb 03  |  Americas


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