Timeline of Bolivian Mining Conflict in Mallku Khota

The several violent, reoccurring conflicts in northern Potosí over the presence of a Canadian mining company have finally been at least temporarily resolved by an agreement by the Morales government to rescind South American Silver’s mining concession.  After multiple violent clashes between community members, various demonstrations, a march to La Paz, three different hostage situations, and the shooting death of one community member during police intervention, the situation was finally resolved on July 10th with the signing of an agreement between community members and the government.  Among other things, the agreement reversed the Canadian company’s mining concession, promised compensation for injured community members, and guaranteed that the government would not take legal action against protesters, including those involved in the hostage situations.  An in-depth analysis of the events will follow this update.

 

Timeline of Incidents in Mallku Khota

April

  • April 1st: A group of community members opposed to the Canadian mining company, South American Silver (SAS), briefly took a community relations representative from the company hostage, but the incident did not receive much attention nationally.[1]

May

  • May 5th: Community members took a police officer hostage.
    • Police entered the community with arrest warrants for some community authorities.  The charges were initiated by SAS and presumably related to the kidnapping in April but the press did not specify.[2]
    • Community leader Cancio Rojas explained that the community was opposed to SAS because the community was not consulted before the concession was given and it feared that SAS would contaminate water sources in the area once exploitation of the minerals began.[3]
  • May 7th: Community members took a second police officer hostage.
  • May 9th: Protesters release police hostages after Potosí governor made vague promises of a community consultation. [4]
  • May 18th: A community meeting to discuss the fate of SAS turned into a violent confrontation that left dozens wounded.  Some 200 community members who are hostile to SAS arrived to the meeting unexpectedly, wielding dynamite and shouting accusations at meeting attendees.[5]
  • May 28th: Thousands of people Mallku Khota residents marched from their communities in northern Potosí to La Paz to demand the eviction of SAS.
  • May 31st: The Bolivian government reaffirmed that it would respect the Canadian company´s mining concession.[6]

June

  • June 7th: Protesters demanding the reversal of SAS’s mining concession arrive in La Paz.
  • June 8th: Police tear-gassed protesters, including children, in the Plaza Murillo.[7]  Protesters wounded some police officers.[8]
  • June 10th: Representatives from five Mallku Khota ayllus asked the government to send security forces to the area to avoid conflicts between local communities.  These ayllus claimed marchers represent Mallku Khota.[9]
  • June 12th: A group of approximately 700 anti-SAS community members attacked three pro-SAS communities.[10]  According to reports, the attackers included cooperative miners who supposedly illegally exploit gold in the area.
  • June 12th: Some 6,000 community members opposed to SAS took over a mining camp in the area.  Using dynamite and trenches they had dug, they impeded access to the entrance.[11]
  • June 13th: The government dispatched 230 police officers to the area.
  • June 28th: The government released Cancio Rojas from prison and put him under house arrest in Potosí.  The community authority was accused of damaging the SAS’s equipment and kidnapping police officers in May.
  • June 28th: Community members took  two engineers from SAS hostage, accusing them of spying.[12]  The engineers admitted to dressing up in traditional clothes from the area, considered a serious offense for an outsider, and taking pictures during a community meeting.[13]

July

  • July 2nd: Anit-SAS community members took three more SAS employees hostage, presumably  when they raided and burned a mining site in Sacani. [14][15]
  • July 3rd: The Cochabamba police commander sent 150 officers to the area.[16]
  • July 5th:  Three SAS hostages escaped.[17]  By this date, there were 380 police officers stationed in the area.
  • July 5th: Four community members sustained gunshot wounds, and one died during a conflict with police.[18]  Protesters took one police hostage.
    • The Morales administration staunchly denied that any confrontation with police, and insisted that the fatally wounded protester, José Mamani Mamani, died because he drunkenly mishandled dynamite.[19]
    • Medical examiners, however, confirmed he died from a bullet entering the nape of his neck.[20]
    • A joint inspection by local authorities found 24 used tear gas cans, 30 bullet casings, four loaded bullets shells, 13 rounds of used 9 millimeter casings, and other police paraphernalia at the site of Mamani Mamani’s death.[21]
  • July 7th: State entered dialogue with community members.[22]
  • June 8th: Community members and government reached a preliminary agreement and liberated remaining hostages.[23]
  • July 10th: Community members and the government signed an official agreement.[24]  The agreement included: [25]
    • Reversion of mining concession
    • Compensation for the family of José Mamani Mamani
    • A job for a relative of Mamani Mamani
    • That the government pays for all the medical expenses for the four community members who were shot by police
    • A guarantee that no legal action will be taken by the government against any of the community members
    • An investigation looking into the police officers and corresponding legal action if merited
    • Compliance with community justice sentence for engineers
      • In a local trial, community authorities mandated that the engineers must build 1,000 adobe houses in 30 days after they recover for injuries sustained in their captivity.[26]
    • Legal support for community authority Cancio Rojas, who has been charged with several crimes related to the conflict.


[1] http://www.la-razon.com/economia/Mallku-Khota-SA-denuncia-rehenes_0_1641435885.html
[2] http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/nacional/20120510/liberan-a-los-dos-policias-rehenes-en-mallku-khota_170951_359311.html
[3] http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/nacional/20120510/liberan-a-los-dos-policias-rehenes-en-mallku-khota_170951_359311.html
[4] http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/nacional/20120510/liberan-a-los-dos-policias-rehenes-en-mallku-khota_170951_359311.html
[5] http://www.la-razon.com/ciudades/Pelea-Mallku-Khota-heridos-desaparecidos_0_1616838339.html
http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/politica/20120519/violencia-entre-ayllus-del-norte-de-potosi_171996_361733.html
[6] http://www.paginasiete.bo/2012-06-01/Nacional/Destacados/29Cul00101-06-12-P720120601VIE.aspx
[7] http://www.opinion.com.bo/opinion/articulos/2012/0608/noticias.php?id=59375
[8] http://www.opinion.com.bo/opinion/articulos/2012/0608/noticias.php?id=59364
[9] http://www.eldiario.net/noticias/2012/2012_06/nt120611/politica.php?n=33&-pobladores-de-mallku-khota-exigen-seguridad-ante-los-avasallamientos
[10] http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/economia/20120613/cooperativistas-atacan-tres-comunidades-en-mallku_174878_368477.html
[11] http://www.la-razon.com/economia/comunarios-Mallku-Khota-presencia-autoridades_0_1631836901.html
[12] http://www.la-razon.com/economia/Comunarios-condicionan-libertad-ingenieros-Presidente_0_1641435905.html
[13] http://www.opinion.com.bo/opinion/articulos/2012/0710/noticias.php?id=63236
[14] http://www.la-razon.com/economia/Comunarios-secuestran-tecnicos-Mallku-Khota_0_1643835662.html
[15] http://www.eldiario.net/noticias/2012/2012_07/nt120703/sociedad.php?n=71&-campamento-de-empresa-minera-es-saqueada-y-quemada-por-comunarios
[16] http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/economia/20120704/secuestran-a-otras-3-personas-en-mina_177274_374204.html
[17] http://www.la-razon.com/economia/Evo-concesion-compania-Mallku-Khota_0_1648635155.html
[18] http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/economia/20120706/mallku-khota-cuatro-heridos-de-bala-son-atendidos-en_177578_374958.html
[19] http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/economia/20120706/gobierno-muerte-en-mallku-khota-no-fue-por_177567_374938.html
[20] http://erbol.com.bo/noticia.php?identificador=2147483960926
[21] http://erbol.com.bo/noticia.php?identificador=2147483960978
[22] http://www.la-razon.com/economia/comunarios-Mallku-Khota-liberan-rehenes_0_1647435266.html
[23] http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/economia/20120709/gobierno-logra-acuerdo-y-liberan-a-tres-rehenes_177841_375577.html
[24] http://www.la-razon.com/economia/Evo-concesion-compania-Mallku-Khota_0_1648635155.html
[25] http://www.la-razon.com/economia/comunarios-Mallku-Khota-liberan-rehenes_0_1647435266.html
[26] http://www.eldiario.net/noticias/2012/2012_07/nt120709/sociedad.php?n=39&-tres-ultimos-rehenes-son-liberados-tras-diez-dias