Bolivian President Evo Morales said Wednesday that he will reopen dialogue with the mining cooperatives located in the province of Potosi, after a violent conflict in August that ended in the torture and murder of the Interior Minister, and the death of five protesters.
The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives, or Fencomin, began protesting Aug. 10 in opposition to the modification of the Cooperative Law, which allows workers in cooperatives around the country to form unions if they wish to do so.
The protesters oppose the amendment of the law, want subsidies for electricity, demand the elimination of certain environmental obligations and want the cooperative to be able to sign contracts with international companies.
President Evo Morales has criticized the mining leaders for making demands that run against the constitution.
On Sept. 1, his administration passed a decree banning the cooperative miners from signing lease and sublease contracts with transnational and domestic companies.
The government estimates that there are currently 31 contracts signed with private companies for at least 25 years; in some cases the contracts are indefinite.
The president of the Bolivian mining corporation, Comibol, Marcellin Quispe, claims there are just seven contracts signed between cooperative miners with private companies, both national and transnational.