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  • Bolivian miners during a march in Oruro, Bolivia

    Bolivian miners during a march in Oruro, Bolivia | Photo: Reuters

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After being criticized for presenting demands deemed unconstitutional by the Bolivian leader, the government will speak with the mining organization.

The Bolivian government announced Thursday it will respond to leaders of the National Federation of Mining Cooperatives, Fencomin, after the organization presented a series of petitions to President Evo Morales.

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The mining cooperative began protesting August 10 in opposition to the modification of the Cooperative Law, which allows workers in cooperatives around the country to form unions if they wish to do so.

The protesters oppose the amendment of the law, want subsidies on electricity, demand the elimination of certain environmental obligations and want the cooperative to be able to sign contracts with international companies.

President Evo Morales has criticized the mining leaders for making demands that run contrary to the constitution.

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“They are not another state, or a republic, our natural resources belong to the Bolivian people by constitution. The only one who can sign contracts is the state," said Morales during a press conference on August 15.

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The mining leaders threat to radicalize their protests and cut off all dialogue with the government if authorities fail to release 10 miners who were arrested last Thursday.

The 10 miners were detained after they allegedly hurt police officers during a confrontation. Protesters have been blocking highways in the country for weeks and have been involved in violent clashes with police.

The Minister of Mining and Metallurgy, Cesar Navarro, said most of the petitions are not the responsibility of the executive branch of the government, but have to be addressed by local departments.

"We are going to submit the written response, and it's their responsibility to analyze the response and to begin a dialogue,” said Navarro. “This is not about threats, it’s about discussing specific elements."

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