Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Devil's Miner (2005)

The forsaken world of Bolivian silver miners is brought to the screen in this powerful documentary. Basilio Vargas is a 14-year-old boy living in the impoverished Cerro Rico region of Bolivia. Since the death of his father, Basilio and his younger brother Bernardino are the breadwinners in his family, and they support their mother and siblings working in the Cerro Rico silver mines. Basilio is one of 800 children who regularly work the mines, and it's indicative of the danger and physically punishing nature of the work that the miners swear fealty to "Tio" -- the Devil -- because it's believed God would never enter such a place. Cerro Rico's silver miners have an average life expectancy of 40 years or less, thanks to the poisoned air, the constant heat, the use of explosives, the primitive and unsafe equipment, and the long hours demanded of the laborers (most are sent into the mines for 24-hour shifts, and both children and adults often chew coca leaves to ward off hunger and fatigue). While Basilio's more fortunate classmates make fun of him when he's able to attend school, he realized his family need the money and he's willing to endure the agony for the small wage he makes every day. The Devil's Miner chronicles several days in the life of Basilio Vargas as a document of the inhuman conditions he and his fellow miners face, as well as the young man's bravery. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Yes, showing bravery for the young men comes out in the documentary.

I think we have to ask who is exploiting who? Is the mine owner giving the kids an opportunity to help out the family and is the documentary crew exploiting the conditions of the family as a result of their father dieing and having no better alternative? At least this way the children are having a chance to get an education.

Under an ideal situation then the government would provide family services but the revenue has to come from somewhere. I remember reading a while ago that over 50% of cars in Bolivia are stolen.

The life expectancy is 40 years old, but there are a couple of African countries that is less life expectancy than that, notably Zimbabwe.

It starts out with the following message:
The Bolivian silver mines of the Cerro Rico Mountain have been exploited for over 450 years.

It is estimated that 8 million people have died in the mines.

Today over 5000 Indios work in the Minor-Owned Cooperatives, in search of any remaining minerals within Cerro Rico.

It is known as the "Mountain that Eats Men".

The Devil's Miner (the story of a child's survival) is the official web site of the movie.

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