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poor Potosi, once so rich


View 1985 on 1985 trip's travel map.

Wednesday 27th November 1985

Fail to make the 7.30 start for the tour of the state tin mine, so take a stroll round the old mint instead. beautiful mediaeval building with stone staircases, flying buttress, and arched brick ceilings. Some fine furniture and interesting massive wooden cog wheels used for machining the silver. The silver mines of Potosi made Spain fabulously rich, and fuelled the wars in europe for 100 years.

Persuaded to take the train back to La Paz, Pullman class with snooty waiters!!

Steph and Jess' tren to Sucre leaves 6 hours late. See them off in the evening, a long process. There is an ordinary class on the train and freight class. The cargo in freight is all human though.

Book a hot shower with the caretaker, once the little boiler has got the water hot you have to shout ready, and terminale to turn it off.

have a tasty soup followed by large juicy steak chips and trimmings with a pint of beer fro 4 million. Feels like a real indulgence. Chat with a Bolivian civil engineer who builds access roads for the petroleum fields. He remarks at the disparity between his countries natural wealth and the poverty of its peoples. Three things to blame if I understand him correctly, inept government, corruption and uneducated population.

Victor Paz is the current incumbent in government. In the 60s he was the leader of the new socialist miners party. He got elected and started a few rearms, nationalised the mines, gave the campesinoes some tenure of their land. But the powerful few felt the pinch and a military coup intervened. He has recently got back in power, but things are different now. The miners have been on strike against Victor Paz's government for months, ironically. They are starving but exist on coca leaves to control the hunger and handouts of bread. They live in tied houses, and their children go to government schools. But the international tin cartel has stopped functioning, unable to maintain prices in the face of global over supply. Tin was Bolivia's main source of revenue. Its grim.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:50 Archived in Bolivia

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