title. MINES FMILIES

Bolivia, Cerro Rico, Potosí, 4090 meters above sea level, many families live among mines. They have the function of guarding the entrances of mines, preventing the theft of minerals or of working between mining waste. Mostly are made up of widows and their children, called "guardas" or "pallirs". They need a minimum salary to survive. They live in really hard conditions. Often they lacks electricity, water, and heating, and are subjected to a continuous heavy metal dust suffocation. Often they live in one small space. Dona Cirilla had no one anymore, the mines had taken them all away. Her life lay in the hopes of selling some minerals. She slept in 5 square meters of mining tools and a thousand blankets to defend herself from the cold. "My bones make me bad and my foot sounds. I walk very hard and hope in another life... this one hurts me ..." A single room next to the entrance of a mine. They often come from the Bolivian countryside. Be a farmer does not allow economic support to the family, so there is a phenomenon of internal emigration to mining areas. Miners live much of their life in the tunnels, while the whole family (often many children, often more then 5 or 6), from outside earn some coins while remaining in guard at the entrances. When they do not have anything and it is winter they expect the sun be high in the sky to wake up because in this way they can move to look for water with a bit of warmth. Between the mines there are several natural water wells. Often though contaminated by heavy metals or residues from mineral processing.