The UK Foreign Office said it was offering consular assistance to a number of British nationals, and is advising against all travel to the Potosi/Uyuni region. ... Potosi, Province of Potosi. Cultural Survival advocates for Indigenous Peoples' rights and supports Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience, since 1972. Soon Potosí became the hometown of the Spanish Colonial Mint, the first mint in the Americas, and it stayed like this for centuries. During colonial times an estimated eight million Inca slaves died in the process of the silver extraction. Not surprisingly, asthma, silicosis, and other pulmonary problems are the most common health hazards. US election 2020 polls: Who is ahead - Trump or Biden? Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Author: Martin St-Amant   CC BY 3.0. The "rich hill," however, doesn't make its mineworkers wealthy; the exploitation of their labor started with the Spanish Conquistadores and continues to this day. Food stocks have been running low and there have been long queues at banks as customers try to withdraw cash. Towering almost a mile above it is Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain), also known as Mount Potosí. These old-fashioned lamps have the advantage of going out whenever the oxygen in the air is used up; mineworkers know to get out of the shaft immediately to avoid suffocation when their lamps go out. Today Potosí's mythical wealth is evident only in the expression "un potosí" for someone unbelievably rich. Cultural Survival envisions a future that respects and honors Indigenous Peoples' inherent rights and dynamic cultures, deeply and richly interwoven in lands, languages, spiritual traditions, and artistic expression, rooted in self-determination and self-governance. Read another story from us:Zhangye Danxia: A Chinese national park with stunning rainbow mountains, Cerro Potosí, which is declared as a UNESCO world heritage site, serves as a symbol for humanity’s thirst for power. Because of the increase of deaths in the mines, in 1603 the Spanish started bringing in up to 2,000 African slaves per year as the replacement labor force. This is probably why the expression “vale un Potosí” (which is still in use), which means “to be worth a Potosí,” was invented. Map of Bolivia showing Potosí Department. The small mining town of Potosí was founded in 1545 and it eventually became a huge city with around 200,000 inhabitants, most of whom were indigenous Andeans working as miners. Demonstrators have several demands, including the settlement of a boundary dispute with the neighbouring province of Oruro. The blockades have made it difficult for tourists to get out of the historic city of Potosi. US Election 2020: Democrats' hopes of gaining control of Senate fade. The Riches of Potosi, Slavery & Death in Cerro Rico, Bolivia Within a few years of the Spanish arrival thousands of indigenous workers were toiling in the mines. They collected the silver and took taxes from all the entrepreneurs who wanted to open mines. They made the devil into a god that helps miners and they married him to Pachamama (the mother goddess). Several tons of overburden must be excavated to get enough metal for a small profit. A growing number of the miners have already taken advantage of the lucrative tourist trade, working as guides to the shafts they themselves used to mine. US election results 2020: When might we get a winner? US election results: Tables turned as Trump voters start to worry. Mine entrance Cerro Rico Author:Marco Ebreo CC BY-SA 4.0. Potosí, known as Villa Imperial de Potosí in the colonial period, is the capital city and a municipality of the Department of Potosí in Bolivia.It is one of the highest cities in the world at a nominal 4,090 metres (13,420 ft). Over centuries Potoí's wealth was exported to Europe or to other Spanish colonies. The Cerro Potosí silver veins were so rich that it is estimated that 60 percent of all the silver in the world during the 16th century came from Potosí. About 80 years later, new “masters” really appeared in the region, but they came from far away. When in the mid-1980s the Bolivian government abandoned the money-losing state mines, they were open to anyone willing to work them. Protesters are demanding government investment in their region. The miners are working on their own, alone or organized in cooperatives. Protesters have also been staging hunger strikes. There are around 15,000 workers risking their lives every day in the mines of Potosí, working with no protection, exposed to the rocks and dust and gas poisoning. The town of Potosí became the second largest city in the Americas, all because of the huge mineral deposits, the cheap and simple production process of silver, but most of all because of the hard-working local miners whose labor the Spanish used through the Incan “mita” system of contributed labor. The only difference today is that the ore (mostly zinc) doesn’t go to the Spanish crown. When Bolivia achieved independence in 1825 its silver mines were nearly exhausted and Potosí's population had decreased from 200,000 to 10,000. On the Bolivian Altiplano, at more than 4000 meters above sea level, lies South America's most elevated town. Very few survive more than twenty years of underground labor; their life expectancy is not above forty. VideoWhat does developing a Covid-19 vaccine look like? Miguel de Cervantes mentions Potosí in Don Quixote, describing it as a place of “extraordinary richness.”. The solution would come via dialogue, presidential spokesman Ivan Canelas said. The Spanish crown received the main benefit from the silver produced at Potosí. | Donor Privacy Policy | EIN: 23-7182593, Cultural Survival E-Newsletter - News and Updates, Information on conferences, meetings and global events pertaining to Indigenous Peoples, Learn about Cultural Survival's response to Covid-19. Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc. Our website houses close to five decades of content and publishing. He also defended the central government's record of investment in the region. They then insert a stick of dynamite, blow out a piece of rock, and have their assistants -- young boys, many of them not yet in their teens -- carry the debris out of the mine in a wheelbarrow. Its silver soon became the foundation of the Spanish Empire, and at its peak in the seventeenth century Potosí was one of the world's largest and wealthiest cities. Cerro Rico is not only rich with silver, it also possesses zinc and tin ores. Video, Tech to spot sailor’s mood in tough global race, 'Young black people need role models to see' Video, 'Young black people need role models to see', What does developing a Covid-19 vaccine look like? It is believed that eight million people have died in the mines of Potosi, most of them either natives or African slaves. With road and air links blocked, food supplies are running low and some foreign tourists have been stranded. The mansions and churches of Potosí are gradually being restored (under a UNESCO program) to their former glory, but in a city soon to be a prime tourist destination, most of the miners of the Cerro Rico Mountain have been left out of the equation, abandoned in their shafts as if nothing had ever changed. Due to the abrupt changes of temperature between the hot tunnels of the mine and the chilly Altiplano winds, miners frequently suffer from colds. The king said that this mountain should be left alone, because it was meant to belong to another master. Because of the high death toll (even today), Cerro Rico is also known as the “mountain that eats people.” Central Potosi street To keep the miners frightened and therefore more productive, the Spanish introduced them to the concept of the devil. Potosí is a mining town famous for the incredible riches that have been cut out of the Cerro Rico Mountain ever since 1545, when the Spaniards began with large-scale excavation. Potosí is a mining town famous for the incredible riches that have been cut out of the Cerro Rico Mountain ever since 1545, when the Spaniards began with large-scale excavation. Oxygen is scarce at 4000 meters, and even scarcer in the small tunnels of the mine. The government has insisted it will not use force to break the blockade. However, another story says that the bones of those who died in the mine one could build two such bridges. When they tried to dig and gather the silver, there was a huge thunder-like explosion that shook the whole mountain. 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Cooperatives provide a very basic health insurance and control funds raised from "adventure" tourists who take tours of the mines and visit the workers. .css-14iz86j-BoldText{font-weight:bold;}Anti-government protests in the Bolivian region of Potosi have entered a third week, hitting mining production and disrupting normal life. They also want more investment, including the expansion of the airport, new roads and the construction of a cement factory. Rising in Bolivia at an altitude of 13,420 feet, Potosí is one of the highest cities in the world. Because of the high death toll (even today), Cerro Rico is also known as the “mountain that eats people.”. Deep in the mines, they built many shrines to Tio. To make matters worse, the fall in silver prices hurt Potosí's economy such that it could never completely recover. © 2020 BBC. © 2020 Cultural Survival. Today, miners still lose their lives in accidents or because of poor health conditions. He remains the sole owner of the material he extracts and his profit is based on production. Today it seems that nothing has changed. Read about our approach to external linking. Potosi, Bolivia's key mining region, has been hit by a general strike and protests for the past fortnight. With nearly 10 percent of its 120,000 inhabitants working either in the mining industry or in related areas, Potosí is one of the few exceptions to the rule. Paid jobs are difficult to find and most people live on subsistence agriculture or small herds of Llamas and Alpacas. To keep the miners frightened and  therefore more productive, the Spanish introduced them to the concept of the devil. In addition to the lack of oxygen, every explosion pulverizes the rocks and fills the mines with dust. This includes mines, notably the Royal mine complex, the biggest and best-conserved of the some 5,000 operations that riddled the high plateau and its valleys, dams that controlled the water that activated the ore-grinding mills, aqueducts, milling centres and kilns. Each of the 15.000 miners of Cerro Rico is member of one of the 16 cooperatives which enjoy a lease contract granted by the Bolivian State. R. (1990). A Japanese-owned silver, zinc and lead mine has had to suspend many of its operations and other mines have also seen output disrupted. This statistic illustrates the number of casualties in selected mining accidents that occurred worldwide from 2005 to 2019. Trump sues as path to victory over Biden narrows, Church pastor a career con artist. The final result of the presidential election hinges on just a handful of key battleground states. The two dozen small-scale, often familyrun, mining cooperatives that took over can rarely afford the safer modern technology used in larger mining operations.

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