LA PAZ/SANTIAGO – Bolivia responded to last week’s murder of a government official by announcing a crackdown on mining cooperatives on Thursday, saying it would return contracts signed between them and private companies to state control.
The beaten body of Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes was found by the side of the road last week, hours after he had approached mining protesters to talk over their concerns.
Having seen their income hit by the global commodities slowdown, miners had been demanding increased rights to work with private companies, relaxed environmental restrictions and more subsidies. At least two were killed in clashes with police in the run-up to the murder.
President Evo Morales has accused the right-wing opposition of encouraging the protests to foment discord, and his socialist government hit back Thursday with tighter restrictions for co-operatives.
Five decrees were agreed on after an emergency cabinet meeting, Mining Minister Cesar Navarro said at a press conference.They include “reverting to state control those areas in which contracts have been signed between mining cooperatives and private companies,” he said.
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