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Women of Silver

Natalie Fernandez | Bolivia

Portrait of Ana Maria Vargas. "Anita" as she is often called by people who know her, she has been working for more than 14 years inside a mine for the Cooperative Virgen del Carmen

"I hope the hill does not run out" is a common phrase used among working women of Cerro Rico, a mountain located in the Andes of Potosi (Bolivia) famous for having had the most important silver veins in the world and having been the main support of the Spanish colony in America. Paradoxically, the money that came out of Potosí did not make great changes in the lives of the inhabitants of the region where poverty is visible. Legend has it that when a woman entered the mine, the devil, owner of the depths, hid the veins of silver so that they would not find them since their greed was greater than that of men. Thus, due to tradition and superstition, the entry of women into the mine was forbidden for more than 4 centuries. Nowadays, according to statistical data of the area, more than a hundred women work in Cerro Rico, being mostly victims of labor exploitation and a very noticeable lack of protection from the state of Bolivia.

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