Bolivian Miners Take Policemen Hostage amid Protests against Forced Unionization

The miners want the government to backtrack to regulations on the operation of cooperatives which requires the creation of unions in these institutions (El Deber)
The miners want the government to pullback on its union restrictions. (El Deber)

EspañolClashes between police and miners in Bolivia left dozens arrested and two wounded Wednesday, August 10, as well as several officers being taken hostage.

The miners said they wanted the government to retract imposed regulations on the operation of cooperatives requiring the creation of unions, as mining companies work with thousands of contract workers.

Authorities said the law does not affect mining cooperatives because it only recognizes unions in telecommunications, water and electricity, among others.

The conflict occurred on the main highway to La Paz, where the most violent episodes were reported, and major roads in Potosi and Cochamba.

In once instance, cooperatives exploded dynamite and detained an ambulance that was transporting a wounded police officer.

President of the Federation of Mining Cooperatives Albino Garcia explained that miners grouped into cooperatives set up roadblocks in several parts of the country and managed to capture 47 policemen in Mantecani.

“According to reports, we have 46 policemen (retained),” said group leader Hernán Montero. “We can not mention if they are high grade, but in reality we also have 45 detainees in the El Alto FELCC (a police unit), 30 in Patacamaya, two in Potosi and 38 arrested in Cochabamba.”

Montero also said some of his comrades had been wounded with guns. To avoid worsening the situation, he said they should avoid taking action against security forces and start a dialogue “without conditions.”

The government asked the public prosecutor to open an investigation against those responsible for these actions, condemning violence “deployed by mining cooperatives” that block the roads.

The cooperatives have reportedly offered to free the agents in exchange for the police to do the same with arrested miners.

Source:  El comercio

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