Cablegate: Huanuni Update: Back to Work
DE RUEHLP #1940/01 1941432
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131432Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4303
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6924
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4272
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8160
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5405
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0066
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2635
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2795
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4717
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0475
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5266
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 9872
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0310
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0003
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0405
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
UNCLAS LA PAZ 001940
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV EMIN ECON BL
SUBJECT: HUANUNI UPDATE: BACK TO WORK
REF: A. LA PAZ 1928
B. LA PAZ 1860
1. (SBU) After more than a week of lost production, the
state-salaried miners at Huanuni returned to work July 12.
Both sides are claiming victory, but it seems that the GOB
made significant concessions to the protesters (including
dropping charges against those who had attempted to enter La
Paz with explosives). The government has therefore once
again given in when faced with street protests, adding to a
worrisome precedent. End summary.
Details of the Agreement
2. (SBU) According to Bolivia's official news agency, the
following demands of the Huanuni miners will be met:
(a) The GOB will promote the conversion of Supreme Decree
28901 into law using its MAS representatives in congress.
With this demand, the salaried miners particularly want the
continued and enforced exclusion of cooperative miners from
Huanuni (see paragraph 4 for discussion).
(b) The GOB and miners will work on a bill that will make
the state have a monopoly on the marketing and sale of tin.
Note: Of the three largest U.S. investments in Bolivia, only
San Bartolome's deposits contain tin and it is not integral
to their profitability.
(c) Create a tripartite commission including the Bolivian
Mining Company (COMIBOL), Huanuni miner representatives, and
the GOB (Ministries of Interior and Mining) to improve the
management of the Huanuni mine.
(d) The GOB promised to seek financing and investment for
the construction of a new mill. (Note: sources have told
Emboff that the amount originally requested for a new mill by
the Huanuni miners was highly inflated, either in
anticipation of government low-balling or in preparation for
mismanagement and theft.)
(e) The GOB promised to facilitate the construction of a
hospital in Huanuni. This was not among the original requests
of the miners.
(f) A commission will be created to consider improvements in
benefits (including salaries) for the miners.
(g) The GOB agreed to drop charges against miners detained
for carrying explosives.
The salaried miners had originally included in their demands
a call for the resignations of numerous high-level national
and departmental officials, including the mining minister,
labor minister, and head of COMIBOL. The two ministers are
listed among the signatories to the new agreement.
3. (SBU) The apparent victory of the Huanuni miners, despite
their widely unpopular protests that shut down a large part
of the country, stranded travelers and caused reported losses
of USD200,000 daily, sets yet another negative precedent for
rule of law in Bolivia. Individuals who two days ago were
labeled by the GOB as dangerous (transporting weapons,
explosives and drugs) now face no repercussions for their
actions. Instead, the GOB news source states that the
prefecturate of Oruro and the national police are responsible
for the defense of the mining company and the population
(there is no mention of the 300 soldiers who had been sent
before the strike at the request of the miners to keep the
peace and who are currently being withdrawn.)
More Protests to Come?
4. (SBU) The state-salaried miners have pitted themselves
explicitly against the cooperatives in Huanuni, and this
agreement with the GOB can be seen as a victory of the
salaried miners over the cooperatives. The cooperatives have
also won significant concessions from the GOB in the past
through the use of street protests, and sources suggest to
Emboff that the cooperatives are preparing counter-protests
within the next week, possibly to demand state funding to
find new deposits to replace the cooperative mines in Huanuni
which were nationalized.