16 Dead...61 Injured
A conflict over mining rights between 2 groups of miners, yesterday, turned violent at a place called Huanani in the state of Oruro (Bolivian Highlands). One group began to hurl dynamite! A hospital was destroyed. The place looked like a war zone! 61 miners were injured and 16 lost their lives. One of the groups enjoyed the support of the government during the last general elections. A grim looking, Evo Morales, president of the nation, went on national TV to announce the resignation of the cabinet minister who was overseeing the dispute which apparently surfaced in July this year; a replacement was appointed immediately. The miners are a feared constituency in Bolivia; normally their participation in any protest spells trouble for the party in power. The next few days will hopefully bring some sense of order and calm.
The business community in Santa Cruz is putting together a number of initiatives to help the mining community where the incident took place. They've collected dry rations, raised funds and have encouraged people to donate blood. These are good moves because they help ease tensions and build solidarity between Santa Cruz and the peoples from the highlands. Bolivia is deeply divided as the constitutional assembly struggles to craft a new constitution that will hopefully promote social justice and unite all sectors of society. The deaths of these miners has shaken everyone and maybe this tragedy will bring the nation together!
This Sunday, God willing, I hope to draw on the Biblical teaching of Christian peacemaking in society as we manifest our calling to be salt and light of the earth.