Bolivia Interior Minister Dies at the Hands of Protesters

Bolivia Interior Minister Dies at the Hands of Protesters

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BoliviaInterior Minister Rodolfo Illanes died after being kidnapped and beaten by striking miners in Bolivia. The confirmation of the minister’s death came through Minster Carlos Romero, according to Chicago Tribune on August 26, 2016.

Romero described the brutal death as cowardly. Additionally, he demanded that the protesters turn over Illanes’ body to authorities.

Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira addressed the death when speaking on Red Uno TV. His voice was unsteady when explaining that Illanes was savagely beaten, which resulted in the death of the Interior Minister.

Previous Reports Indicate Officials Could Not Confirm Death

On Aug. 25, the death of the Bolivian Interior Minister was reported. Minister Rodolfo Illanes demise, however, is not confirmed according to The Daily Mail.

Bolivia’s state prosecutor Ramiro Guerrero told reporters that he could neither confirm not rule out that Illanes had been killed by informal miners who are currently on strike. He added that the claim is under investigation.

Kidnapped by Protesters

The claims of Illanes’ death was made by Moises Flores the Bolivian mining radio station director who claimed they saw his body. Earlier in the day, government officials reported that the Interior Minister had been kidnapped by the strikers.

According to StreetInsider, 56-year-old Illanes was reported to have been kidnapped and the government officials feared he might be tortured. This report occurred shortly after the minister traveled to Panduro; south of La Paz. His intent was to negotiate with the miners.

Several hours after his kidnapping, Illanes reportedly posted a tweet. There was a pronouncement of his good health and his family was told in the post to be calm.

Fight for Change to Mining Legislation

On Aug. 11, Telesur TV reported that the government accused over 5,000 protesters of committing grievous crimes. These heavily armed miners erected several road blockades around Bolivia to take a stand against new mining legislation, which they perceive as negative.

Romero spoke about an incident, which took place on Aug. 10, in Mantecani. Several police officers were captured and beaten by the miners and when an ambulance tried to leave the scene its departure was blocked.

He complained that the protesters have destroyed public property, stolen personal belongings of the police officers, damaged police vehicles, and abducted people. Romero, further, accused them of shameful behavior.

During the standoff, miners were arrested and officers were kidnapped. Once over, authorities agreed to an exchange of prisoners; 50 miners for 70 officers.

Since the protests began, they have grown more violent. The road blockades have resulted in thousands of cars being abandoned. Additionally, the police have used tear gas in an attempt to quell the violence.

Failed Negotiations

The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia (FENCOMIN) began the onslaught of protests after negotiations with government officials failed. The new legislation, Law 365 prevents them from entering into contracts with privately owned mining companies. Moreover, the demonstrators are demanding greater union representation, mining concessions, and better working conditions.

President Evo Morales, who originally championed the working class and privatized Bolivia’s mining industry, has been accused of changing his position. FENCOMIN believes he has become a pawn for the nation’s wealthy and has not worked toward helping the miners by allowing them to enter into contracts with private companies. These businesses promise the miners more money, which is needed since Bolivia is experiencing an economic downturn.

By Cathy Milne

Sources:

The Daily Mail: Bolivia says cannot confirm reports of minister death
The Daily Mail: Officials: Striking miners kill deputy minister in Bolivia
StreetInsider: Bolivian deputy interior minister killed by miners: report
StreetInsider: Bolivian miners lift roadblock after official beaten to death
Chicago Tribune: Striking miners kill deputy minister in Bolivia: official
telesur: Some 5,200 miners have set up blockades in protest over changes to a mining law.
PRESS TV: Clashes erupt between police, protesting miners in Bolivia

Featured Image Courtesy of Szymon Kochanski’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of ManMan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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