Log, Society, Travel

Potosi silver mines

Potosi silver mine

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting a silver mine in Potosi, probably with an agency run by former miners.

The internet says that most workers die in their forties. I wonder if that’s true even for the ones who start their ‘career’ at 15.
The working conditions and the primitive tools used for the extraction of the ore haven’t changed much since the Spanish colonial times.
The rock contains asbestos and silicon; the water falling from the ceiling arsenic and cyanide. Yumm!

Hitler can envy the slaughter of slaves which took place here. About 8 millions slaves, both africans and indigenous , died in those mines in the last few centuries.

Mines are owned by a cooperative of miners and miners are self employed.

I’d really like to know the price – ad who makes the price – of the silver ore. I’d like to know the chain of economic forces that allows the same old threat: work or health.

I’ll be a tourist. Tours can teach, and they might help the world to know about those places and people; besides, miners expect you to bring some small presents – coca leaves, gloves, dynamite kits, some bottles of soda. Not much different from charity – but still an improvement over their conditions. Unfortunately, Tours must include touristic stuff and fun moments – like a cool dynamite explosion at the end of the tour. So that you always remember who you are: a tourist soon getting back to his comfortable life.

And after that, let’s go to the Salar de Uyuni with some other other optimistic smiling backpackers – so focused on their life experience, to shoot pics while jumping.

I sometimes get why so many Bolivian people seem not to like tourists.