News

From 2018-06-07 to 2018-06-27

Institute Council

From 2018-05-31 to 2018-08-31

Cerro Rico

THEY KEEP HOPING

At the entrance of the mine there is a statue El Tio which represents the god of the mine. After offering him cigarettes or alcohol, the miners enter the tunnels walking half bent because the low ceilings. If you are not wearing a helmet, look out for your head. The mine has many openings but some are as small as a man hole. All day long, the men climb ladders their bags filled with stone chippings. They explode dynamite charges at will, no matter the danger. In the city there are stalls of dynamite sticks and hessian sacks full of coca leaves, the inhabitants’ Tylenol.

Why do men continue coming to this lifeless mine? For the livelihood of their families! Fatalism and resignation is another reason—“my grandfather was a miner, my father was a miner, I am also a miner” they say.

The mines are dark but with my flashlight I could see the brilliancy of dust particles still imprisoned in the rock. There is absolutely no life in the mineral universe, not even a mouse said my tour guide because it would have nothing to eat. Men eat very little, it is impossible for them to bring a lunch due to the dust that would infiltrate the food and spoil it. So they chew enormous wads of coca leaves that help them keep going.

FAMILY LIFE

When miners come out of the mine at the end of the day or at night time, they must sleep. Since most of them live in a one room house, cohabitation is not easy. The children must go outside and make no noise; using rudimentary installations, the women organize themselves to wash and dry the clothes. Notwithstanding their great poverty and harshness of life, the inhabitants are believers. Their syncretistic beliefs are a combination of Catholicism and the ancient gods. It is with respect and attachment that the people continue celebrating the ancient divinities.

Upon our return home, we ponder upon what we have seen. The many injustices do not leave us indifferent but we do feel powerless before such misery. The knowledge we have acquired, the awareness of the living conditions of the miners help us to be attentive to their plight. After such a trip, we realize that we all have a duty to keep alive in our memory those great tragedies which have been too quickly and easily forgotten.

Suzanne Lachapelle