Solidarity for Huanuni miners killed opposing privatisation by force

Bolivia Solidarity Campaign 

People may be aware that there has been fighting between workers of the state owned Huanuni mines and members of the mining cooperatives since Thursday.

This situation was sparked when, last week, a UK based company Grant Thornton attempted to sell a stake in the publicly owned mine, a stake it clearly does not have. Negotiations between the new prospective ‘owners’ and the government finished on Wednesday with the government stating clearly that the mines are wholly in public hands.

The cooperatives did not take the news well and tried to seize the mine by force. A thousand unionized miners defended the mine and a pitched battle has been taking place over Thursday and Friday with dozens killed and injured and, until today, the police refusing to intervene against the cooperativists.

For more information see: Bolivia: struggle for future of mines sees workers killed and injured

The Bolivia Solidarity Campaign wants to express its solidarity with those miners who, at the cost of their own lives, have defended the mines against privatisation and we have called a picket for Tuesday of Grant Thornton House, the UK HQ of the company that sparked the whole affair.

This picket coincides with the call in Bolivia by the COB for a general strike.

Picket details

Grant Thornton House,

Melton Street, Euston Square, London NW1 2EP.

Tuesday @12pm

If you can make this please, please do as international solidarity is vital, particularly for us in the UK who have the opportunity to pressure Grant Thornton to withdraw their illegitimate claim over the Huanuni mine.

If you are not able to make the picket (and we understand it’s unavoidably short notice) we’d like to ask you to send a fax to Grant Thornton UK LLP

We enclose a model letter (below) which we’d like to encourage you to adapt to suit your own tastes. If you are able to send them an email or fax, please do copy us in (bcc) so we know what they have received, thank you.

In the last two days the single email we sent prompted the company to contact the Bolivian embassy expressing its desire to help bring this conflict to an end. This shows that such a simple act of solidarity can make a difference; however, we think that Grant Thornton’s vision of a happy outcome to these events and ours are probably quite different and we need to keep up the pressure to support the miners.

Other ideas for those who cannot make the picket include writing to the press and passing a motion at your union (or other organisation) expressing solidarity with the miners and opposing the actions of Grant Thornton. If you pass these messages of support on to us we will ensure that they get to the right people in Bolivia.



Dear Malcolm,

I’m writing about the Huanuni Mine, in Bolivia, part of which used to be part of the assets of the company RBG Resources.

Cooperative members (FEDCOMIN) who visited London a couple of weeks ago, insist that you, as the liquidator of RBG, have sold rights to the Huanuni Mine to them.

The Cooperative members arrived to the Huanuni mine on Thursday armed with dynamite and guns claiming they have ownership and intending to seize the mine by force. The miners who work in the Huanuni mine, who are employed by COMIBOL, the state-run mining company, decided to stay put, and defend their workplace. As a result there are dozens of killed and injured on both sides.

I understand that RBG lost the Huanuni contract in 2002 as it could not fulfill its obligations, including meeting the agreed upon investment, and the Bolivian government has ruled that the Huanuni mine is entirely state owned.

An official statement from you as the liquidator of RBG to say that RBG has no rights to sell a stake in a mine it does not own would be extremely useful to stop anymore blood shed.

As far as the Bolivian Government is concerned the contract between RBG and Bolivia has ended therefore you have no right to sell or transfer the Huanuni mine to a third person/company.

Please clarify this situation as a matter of life and death.

Yours truly,



October 2006

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October 2006

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