This work seeks to reveal one of the darkest episodes of Latin American history, to unearth a history now largely forgotten outside of Bolivia.
The Rich Mountain of Potosí is located 16,000 feet up in the desert highlands of Bolivia. For almost 250 years (1573-1815), Potosí was the focal point of Spanish domination of the Andean peoples, where each year some 13,000 indigenous men were forced to work inside the Rich Mountain, and where hundreds of thousands lost their lives due to the cruel conditions of the mine. The fantastic quantities of silver extracted from Potosí financed the Spanish Empire, and influenced the course of the Industrial Revolution in Europe.
This work looks at the unique culture of the present-day Quechua miners of Potosí. In their labor, daily life, and the symbolism of their sacrificial rites, these miners shine light on the tragic history of the Rich Mountain of Potosí.
These images are excerpted from I Am Rich Potosí: The Mountain that Eats Men (The Monacelli Press, 1999). Along with 88 color plates, the book includes an introductory essay by Eduardo Galeano, historical quotes and engravings, and excerpts from my journal.