Bolivia’s deputy interior minister, Rodolfo Illanes, 56, was kidnapped about 100 miles outside of La Paz while en route to meet with protesting miners. According to Reuters, the protesters were demanding more maneuverability to work with private companies and less environmental restrictions.
The miners – who belong to co-operatives digging for tin, zinc, silver and other metals rather than working for private employers – have been affected by the global fall in commodity prices. They say they want the government to loosen rules intended to protect the environment so they can increase output.
Their list of demands also includes being allowed to sign contracts with private companies, the reduction of tariffs on imported machinery, and government subsidies to help defray energy costs. They also do not want their subcontracted workers to be allowed to form unions.—Reuters
Rodolfo Illanes was allegedly beaten to death by the group of miners, sustaining several blows to the head, according to Edwin Blanco, a prosecutor leading the case. His body was dumped on the side of the road wrapped up in a blanket. Several people have been brought in for questioning but no one has been charged with his death yet. Earlier this week, during the protests, two miners were killed by police and 17 police officers were wounded. The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia was once considered a strong supporter of President Evo Morales, but the economy has put them at odds.