The Bolivian government has confirmed reports that striking miners kidnapped and murdered the country’s vice minister of the interior Rodolfo Illanes.
President Evo Morales has called for three days of national mourning. CCTV’s Dan Collyns reports.
Bolivia\'s vice minister of interior kidnapped and murderedThe Bolivian government has confirmed reports that striking miners kidnapped and murdered the country’s vice minister of the interior Rodolfo Illanes. President Evo Morales has called for three days of national mourning. CCTV’s Dan Collyns reports.
The news of the killing has shocked the nation. Fractious negotiations between the government and striking cooperative miners turned violent.
Two protesters were killed when police clashed with miners armed with dynamite who had blocked several major roads.
Rodolfo Illanes, the vice interior minister, went to negotiate with them. The government says he was held hostage, tortured and finally beaten to death. His body was found dumped on the side of a road.
Speaking to journalists, Bolivia’s president Evo Morales was visibly shaken.
“The death of our brother Deputy Interior Minister, Illanes, hurts a great deal. But it was such a cowardly act. They kidnapped him, tortured him and killed him. It’s unforgivable. I do not understand. I don’t understand how there can be brothers in the union who attack in that way.”
The miners had been demanding the right to work for private companies and for new mining concessions. But the government said if Bolivia’s nearly 100,000 independent miners associate with the formal mining sector they would no longer be cooperatives.
Javier Torres, political analyst said, “The root of the problem has to do with the economic context with the drop in mineral prices, the cooperative miners demanded more benefits. This represents not only a breakdown between Morales and the cooperatives but within the Bolivian social movement. It’s Morales most difficult political crisis to date.”
Just as relations have soured with self-managed cooperatives miners, Morales is losing support from other workers unions.
Once seen as the champion of the working man, Morales – Bolivia’s longest serving democratically elected leader – is now facing unprecedented opposition, much of it from his traditional support base.
Local media reports say police have raided the offices of the cooperative mining federation and arrested at least 10 mining leaders.