El Tio´s Kingdom

#bolivia #potosi #miners #sacrifices #llama
More than 500 years have gone by since the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the New World, the colonies of which were characterized by the exploitation of natural resources, particularly minerals. In the southern colonies, the mita law was in force, which consisted in the forced labor of the native Indians in the gold and silver mines. Millions of Indians died being forced to extract precious metals from the bowels of the mountains for the Spanish Crown. It is said that such material extracted would have allowed building a bridge from Potosí (in present-day Bolivia) all the way to Europe. At that time the Spaniards brought with them not only slavery, but also the Catholic religion, which in a fusion with the beliefs of the region, gave light to the present customs of the peoples of Latin America. In the mining activity, the peoples who to this day extract minerals employing ancient methods of 19th century technology, sustain and give life to a very particular mining culture, rich in traditions, myths and legends, particularly in Potosí, a city that was formerly one of the richest in the world. Following their beliefs, the Bolivian miners consider three spheres in their customs of veneration and worship: the Sky, which is the reign of God, the great celestial Entity which gives the grace of life, punishes and pardons; Mother Earth or Pachamama, who provides food and water, and finally, the Underworld, of which the mines are a part, where El Tío (Uncle, the name given to Satan) is the one who reigns, who provides wealth and pleasure, and the one who decides who will emerge from the mine alive and who will not. "Inside El Tío´s Kingdom" is a story about my experience with Bolivian miners in Potosí who shared their beliefs and traditions in a geographical area where time seems to have stopped, and where their ritual practices are difficult to assimilate in the modern Western world. A culture rich in traditions, myths and legends that is particularly dark.