Striking miners ‘kidnap and beat to death’ minister who went to negotiate

A deputy minister has been kidnapped and beaten to death by striking miners in Bolivia after he tried to mediate in a bitter dispute. Rodolfo Illanes, whose formal title is vice minister of the interior regime, was taken prisoner on Thursday and later “savagely beaten”, according to government colleagues. “At this present time, all the indications are that our deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes has been brutally and cowardly murdered,” minister of government Carlos Romero said. In another statement, defence minister Reymi Ferreira broke down in tears as he said that about 100 to 120 arrests had been made and that the ringleaders had been identified.

This act cannot go unpunished, and must be taken to court

Defence minister Reymi Ferreira

The strikers are demanding more mining concessions with less stringent environmental rules, the right to work for private companies and greater union representation. But demonstrations turned violent this week after a highway was blockaded, with two miners reported to have died and 17 policemen killed. Mr Illanes went to talk to protesters earlier in Panduro but was intercepted en route. However, at midday on Thursday, he tweeted: “My health is fine, my family can be calm.” There are reports that he had heart problems.