LA PAZ – A mining cooperative recently has been dynamiting a glacier in the Bolivian altiplano looking for gold, a move that allegedly has caused water supply problems for eight Indian communities that are now threatening to remove the miners from the area by force.
The Indian leader of the town of Agua Blanca, Aniceto Gutierrez, said in statements published on Sunday by the daily La Razon that the miners belonging to the Flor de Nevado cooperative detonated dynamite on Mt. Presidente, which is located nine hours by road from La Paz.
The best-known town near the spot is Pelechuco, 320 kilometers (198 miles) northwest of La Paz, near the border with Peru, which is part of a tourist route that had included visits to Mt. Presidente.
Gutierrez said that the mining activity there has been going on for two years, but it’s reached a critical point with the explosions, and so the Indians now have decided to climb the snow-covered mountain and use force to dislodge the miners, given that the authorities are not doing anything of the kind.
The miners have threatened to remain on the mountain and have said that they are ready for “blood to flow,” according to the daily.
The Indians have complained to several authorities of the government of Evo Morales, including the Environment Ministry, the National Protected Areas Service, the Mining Corporation of Bolivia and the government of La Paz, but they say they have not received a response to their complaints.
The president of the Mining Cooperatives Central of Pelechuco, Teofilo Pari, admitted that the miners are prospecting for gold in the area, but he added that the reduction of the glacier is an effect of global warming.
He also said that the miners are trying to reach an agreement with the Indians who, in his judgment, merely want to exploit the mountain’s mineral resources for their own benefit and leave the miners out in the cold.