Juan Jose Toro writes in Los Tiempos:
Evo also has the guilt
Since last June 15, the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco, for its acronym in English) meets in Doha, capital of Qatar. This is the 38th meeting of this instance and one of its first determinations was to include Potosi in the list of World Heritage in Danger.
This is not merely a preventive measure. The departmental secretary of Tourism and Culture of the Government of Potosí, Osvaldo Cruz, acknowledged that inclusion in this list is the pre-departure step out of the privileged heritage condition. In other words, Potosi is about to lose the title conferred by the Unesco in 1987.
Why a decision so severe? Unesco itself explains that Potosi was included in the dreaded list “due to uncontrolled mining activities taking place in our Cerro Rico, which could degrade the site.” Moreover, the official statement added that “in deciding its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the Committee cited the potential site degradation due to mining operations, instability and the risk of landslides in Cerro Rico, deficiencies in its conservation, an ineffective protection legislation in its application and the environmental impact of hydraulic complex on the river, which in turn affect the historic fabric and the local population. ”
Like most Bolivians know, the Cerro Rico de Potosi, contained in the shield, is sinking. The gradual collapse is caused by the cooperative miners work performed at the top of the mountain, even above the so-called elevation 4,400. Maybe the cooperative may not be guilty of deterioration, but they are responsible for worsening day by day the stability of the hill.
Studies, including reviews and regulations in this regard indicate that the cooperative must stop working at the peak of Cerro Rico but they do not listen. They say yes, they will leave that area, but are still working. The Mining Corporation of Bolivia has not even made an attempt to remove them by force, as applicable, for the simple reason that the cooperative miners are government allies.
Along with the coca farmers and sectors, the cooperative are the lifeline of the regime. That is why, in approving the new mining law, the government did not consult with the mineral producing regions but negotiated with the cooperatives.
While the National Tax Service overwhelms the majority of the Bolivian population, cooperatives and coca growers have National Tax preferential treatment. How, then, do we hope that the government will kick its allies out of the richest deposit of the country?
If the cooperative does not come out of the summit of Cerro Rico, Potosi will not only lose its title of World Heritage Site, it would be less, but the mountain will begin to suffer meltdowns that could kill tens of people.
If any of that happens, the guilty will not only be the cooperative but also who allowed them to work at their leisure.
The author is a journalist, National Journalism Prize in History.