Bolivia | In the Shadow of Cerro Rico-Potosi

29 images Created 3 May 2011

In the high altiplano region of Bolivia, in the impoverished and largely indigenous community of Calvario in Potosi, hundreds of subsistence-income miners enter the ominous black mouth of the Cerro Rico mines.
Potosi is a city deeply pensive of the pain of colonialism. From the discovery of silver there in 1545 until today, it has been a city of suffering for the indigenous population, while for Europeans, it was a mythical land of riches. While European powers claimed the riches of Potosi's mountain, indigenous laborers died by the thousands.
Today, the impact of this brutal mine on the local people is visible everywhere. Poverty and necessity force widowed or single mothers and sick fathers to send their children to work in the mines to help the family survive.
Child workers in the mining sector, far from having their rights recognized and protected by law, are victims of poverty, domestic violence and abuse outside the home, in addition to exploitation suffered in their jobs. Few miners live longer than 20 years after starting work in the mountain. More than 30% of the population is illiterate. Women and children beg daily on the streets.
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