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18th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Miner (Potosi Mines, Bolivia), Since 1545

The city of Potosí still lives in the shadow of Cerro Rico. The exploitation of the mines continues to be the base of the local economy and, two centuries after being an independent country, Bolivia has failed to put an expiration date on the galleries where many workers, including children, continue to lose their lives. About 15,000 workers descend daily in very hard conditions to the Bolivian mines. At more than 80 meters below ground level, the temperature rises to 40 degrees Celsius. Air is an unclassifiable soup where moisture, dust and particles of silver, sulfur and arsenic are mixed. Lethal combination. Few of those who work in these painful conditions exceed 45 years of life expectancy but, even so, men work daily in the bowels of the mountain. The Potosi mines are some of the oldest in Latin America, still operating for half a millennium. The mountains also cry: Potosi

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 01.2020
Date Uploaded: 11.2020
Photo Location: Potosi, Bolivia
Camera: NIKON D7100
Copyright: © Javier Clemente Martinez