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General strike in Bolivia ends, tourists to go home


A general strike that shut down the Bolivian city of Potosi for 19 days has ended ended, and 11 French and two British tourists who were stranded are set to leave on Tuesday. Strike leaders signed an agrement with the government that provides for more investment in the region. 


"We gave instructions for the road blocks and hunger strikes to be lifted," strike leader Celestino Condori announced Monday.

For 19 days, thousands of protesters had been blocking road, rail and air access to Potosi, a mining city some 4,000 metres above sea level, with a population of 160,000. More than 1,000 protesters also went on a hunger strike.

Dozens of foreign tourists had been stranded, with 18 left by the weekend. They are expected to leave Tuesday on a bus headed to Sucre, some 150 kilometres away.

The French ambassador to Bolivia, Antoine Grassin, had complained over the weekend about the French tourists who remained stranded, even after police commander General Oscar Nina had said most foreign tourists had been evacuated.

Strikers had been demanding more government investment in their region. The six-point agreement that ended the strike includes the building of a cement factory and a new international airport, and restarting a zinc and silver mine.

It also includes defining the provincial border with neighbouring Oruro, another demand of the protesters, as well as the preservation of the Cerro Rico mountain that was heavily mined for silver during Spain's colonial rule.


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