Dispute between Bolivian gold mining co-operatives leaves 1 dead, 7 injured, authorities report

LA PAZ, Bolivia – A violent dispute over a gold mine in a remote part of southeastern Bolivia has left one miner dead and seven others injured, authorities said Tuesday.

Rural leader Constantino Quispe said armed men arrived in a helicopter at the Takesi river near the community of Arcopongo on Sunday to evict miners who were removing gold from the site.

One miner was shot to death and one of the assailants was detained by the attacked miners, Quispe told Erbol radio station. The mine is a two-day walk from Arcopongo and there are no roads in the area.

A group of Arcopongo residents arrived in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, on Tuesday to ask for help and give Gov. Cesar Cocarico photos taken of the helicopter, community leader Anastasio Ramos said.

“There is evidence of the presence of a helicopter hired by the mining co-operative” that allegedly staged the attack, Cocarico said.

Alejandro Santos, president of the Federation of Mine Co-operatives, said two mining co-operatives both claim the gold mine and he blamed the state Bolivian Mining Corporation for delaying for more than two years in resolving the dispute.

Disputes among independent miners over deposits are common in Bolivia, though few cases involve gunfire and this is the first reported case involving a helicopter.

A commission from the police and attorney general’s office was travelling to the area Tuesday.