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France, January 23, 2009

The silver mine in Potosi

We were immediately struck by the idea behind the Flag of Compassion.
We decided to take a flag with us on a trip to South America and to look for an appropriate place for it to be seen. In Potosi, Bolivia, it was clear that indeed the flag had found its home.

Potosi is a city with an illustrious past. In the 17th century it was the richest area in South America, more famous than Paris or London. In the mid-16th century the Spaniards invaded Bolivia and discovered near Potosi a mountain of silver and other precious metals. During the following three centuries six to ten million Indians,as well as black slaves, were used -and killed- to extract this silver. With it, Spain financed wars in Europe, paid off debts and made royal dynasties rich.

When I visited the silver mine I explained to our guide the intention of the Flag of Compassion and I asked them if it would be possible to install it somewhere in the mine.

Within the mine there is a small museum containing 'El Tio', a devil-like figure symbolising the fight of the miners against the Spaniards.

The flag now is installed next to 'El Tio' and there is an explanatory text in Dutch, English, Spanish and the Indian local language. Every Friday night the miners -who now own the mine- meet there.

Bert Goubitz



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