Protesters in Bolivia's Potosi region end blockade

  • Published
People queue in Potosi on 10 August 2010
Image caption,
Food supplies dwindled during the protests, leading to long queues at the shops which had supplies

Officials in Bolivia say a long-running protest which had paralysed the country's mining region has ended.

The governor of Potosi province said protesters had agreed to lift a three-week blockade of the airport and major access roads.

The blockade hampered food supplies and cut off production at the country's main silver mines.

The government agreed to some of the protesters' demands, including building a cement plant and a new airport.

The 19-day protest is the longest Bolivian President Evo Morales has had to face so far, and a major test for his government.

'Broken promises'

Support for President Morales in Potosi, in the south-west of the country, was strong at the last election, but the protesters said they felt he had not delivered on many of his campaign promises.

They demanded more government investment and the settlement of a boundary dispute with the neighbouring department of Oruro.

The protest closed down the world's biggest pure silver mine, the American-owned San Bartolome, as well as two major foreign-owned silver, zinc and lead mines.

Officials said one of the mines had already reopened, the two others were expected to resume work on Tuesday.

The protest had also left dozens of foreign tourists stranded for days.

Governor of Potosi Felix Gonzalez welcomed the end of the strike and the deal reached with the government.

"We've shown that when we're united we can achieve our objectives and demands," he said.

He said the government had agreed to reopen a metal plant and build an international airport in the region.

He said it was now time to "get everything working again".

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