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Photos: a life in Bolivia's mines

POTOSI, Bolivia — Agustin Villanca Menacho spends his days searching for silver, zinc and tin, sweating in the heat of a deep mine in southern Bolivia. He is 14 years old. Like the vast majority of the miners at Cerro Rico, he's a Quechua Indian, and like many children working in the mines, he has no father. His died three months ago from the lung disease silicosis.

Chile quake: The view from Valdivia

VALDIVIA, Chile – One of the world’s six-largest earthquakes in recorded history has left hundreds dead and damaged buildings, roads, and bridges throughout central Chile. Chileans slowly are becoming aware of the breadth of the disaster, which President Michelle Bachelet called "a catastrophe of devastating consequences."

Please, take our money!

LA PAZ, Bolivia – Keep your money. If it comes with political conditions, we'd prefer not to have it. That’s the message being sent to Washington by some countries receiving U.S. development assistance. In September, Bolivian President Evo Morales ordered the U.S. Agency for International Development to end so-called “democracy” programs in the country, saying those programs — aimed at training groups in democracy and human rights — were simply an effort to undermine the country’s socialist economic and political reforms.

ALBA member states behave as bloc at Copenhagen

There's an interesting postscript to the article we did this week about the rise of ALBA, a Latin American socialist alliance started by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. The news from the Copenhagen climate talks shows that ALBA member states — especially Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua — behaved almost as a single bloc, leveling vehement criticism at the U.S.-backed agreement that eventually emerged.

The rise of a southern axis

How a socialist alliance outlived a free trade agreement and helped cement Chavez's status.

Guerrillas take to government

LIMA, Peru — Years after trying to shoot their way into power, dozens of former guerrillas in Latin America have found a better way to help chart their country's future — through the ballot box. A former member of the M-19 guerrillas in Colombia is a senator. Several one-time rebels in El Salvador are congressmen, and one was elected as the country's vice president in March.

With power consolidated, will Evo Morales take Bolivia to the center?

LA PAZ, Bolivia – Evo Morales has a license to do what he wants. The socialist president of Bolivia overwhelmingly won a second term with 63 percent of the vote. His party also earned a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and two-thirds of the Senate seats in Sunday's election. He even made inroads in the eastern departments where opposition to his reforms has been the strongest. But his government is still plagued by inefficiency, corruption and bureaucracy.

A question of autonomy on Bolivia's high plains

JESUS DE MACHACA, Bolivia — On Bolivia’s high plains, two hours outside of La Paz, the municipality of Jesus de Machaca is preparing to make history. On Sunday, Jesus de Machaca and 11 other indigenous municipalities will decide whether they want to govern themselves according to traditions that have been relegated to the margins of Bolivian politics for hundreds of years.

A hidden high-altitude treasure

TARIJA, Bolivia — Even the French will admit that Chilean and Argentine vinos can be as good as they come. But Bolivian wine? Well, just wait. If you haven't tried a fine merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, malbec or sauvignon blanc from this small but expanding wine-producing area in southern Bolivia, you're in for a tasty surprise.
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