LA PAZ – Thousands of Bolivian miners marched on Thursday through the center of La Paz to the sound of dynamite explosions while the country undergoes de-escalation of COVID-19 restrictions.
The miners associated with cooperatives walked from the neighboring city of El Alto to the center of the capital, where the headquarters of the government and parliament of Bolivia are situated. There they lit dynamite, a traditional form of protest in the sector which is punishable by Bolivian law.
“Today we are on a peaceful march. More than 20,000 cooperative members are gathered, and this is only 50 percent of us,” the president of the mining cooperatives in La Paz, Panfilo Marca, told EFE.
“The government authorities do not respond appropriately to the different demands we have as cooperative members of the department of La Paz. Sadly, we have been forced to mobilize 100 percent of our associates,” he added.
Marca specified that his sector demands that the interim government assign them more work areas, allow the free commercialization of minerals and release detainees in the sector prosecuted for acts that happened four years ago.
The protest had a massive presence of women miners who make up these associations. They wore masks with the symbol of their sector while marching across several kilometers.
Pedestrians adjusted to the concentration of protesters and the noise in the main avenues, despite the fact that the authorities’ recommendations were to avoid disorder and maintain biosecurity measures such as social distancing, in order to prevent a new wave of infections.
The miners’ march culminated in the center of La Paz along with a couple more protests linked to municipal and local affairs, just as it was before the start of the pandemic.
Bolivia has so far reported 7,731 deaths from the new coronavirus, and 131,990 confirmed cases since the detection of the first positives in March, which were imported from Europe.