CBC News/The Associated Press, July 6, 2012
Bolivian officials say a Quechua Indian was killed and six people injured in a clash with police in a remote region where locals have seized five workers with a Vancouver company planning to mine for silver.
South American Silver Corp. has been carrying out exploration work and hopes to start the extraction process in 2014 or 2015. The company says it has support agreements from most of the indigenous groups in the area, but a few have not signed on and have attempted to interfere with work on the project in recent weeks.
Potosi Gov. Felix Gonzales said three police officers and three local men were injured in Thursday evening’s violence.
Interior Minister Carlos Romero told reporters Friday that police were attacked with rocks and one officer became separated from the group and has not been found.
He questioned claims by a Quechua leader that the fatality was caused by a gunshot, saying preliminary reports indicate it was mishandling of dynamite.
Residents of the Quechua community of Malku Khota who detained the South American Silver workers say they fear the mine will damage the environment.
The company issued a press release saying in recent days Bolivian employees working for South American Silver’s Bolivian subsidiary, Compañia Minera Malku Khota, and members of local indigenous communities which support the project had been detained illegally by a group of individuals protesting the company’s Malku Khota project. Some of those individuals have since been released.
“Government authorities and the company are seeking release of all detained individuals so that safe and constructive dialogue with all communities in the project area can occur,” said the release.