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El Tio Bolivia

Mining is one of Bolivia’s main industries, but due to poor safety restrictions and poverty pushing many into the industry, conditions are tough and dangerous. Some of the mines have been worked for hundreds of years, the most famous being Cerro Rico (rich hill) in Potosi.

The miners respect and fear El Tio (the uncle); the God of the underworld or as some might call him – the Devil. Legend has it he watches over all goings on in the mines, keeping miners safe, or not; depending on his mood. He is said to have an insatiable appetite for destruction and vice. Therefore every mine in Bolivia has a statue of him at the entrance where the workers sit with him daily to offer him alcohol, coca leaves and tobacco to keep his hunger at bay.

At the end of lent and just before Carnival, the miners make a significant offering to him in the form of lucky llama’s blood and heart to keep him satisfied for the year ahead.

Photographer / Filmmaker  -  London / Brazil
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All images 2007-2018 Phil Clarke Hill