The Mines at Potosí, Bolivia

In the division of labour, on a world scale, the trade of miner was the lot of the most wretched and deprived of men.
—Braudel


Cerro Rico is a bare, red-brown shoulder of earth that stands over the chilly southern Bolivian city of Potosí. At twelve thousand feet above sea level, the mountain is home to a warren of world-infamous silver, tin, and zinc mines. It is also, improbably, a tourist attraction. For a hundred bolivianos, about fourteen dollars, a guide will lead you into the mountain that made Spain the richest country in Europe and gave Potosí a special place in the history of human oppression.

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