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With the onset of World War II, Bolivia’s tin supply became increasingly important to the U.S. war effort. Mineworkers were also increasingly aware of the value of their labor and began to organize and pressure for increases in their modest wages. The mine-owners likewise pressured the government of President General Enrique Peñaranda (1940–43) to suppress trade-union and strike activity. The conflict came to a head in Simón Patiño’s Catavi mine on 21 December 1942, when troops opened fire on a demonstration of workers. The government claimed that nineteen protestors died and thirty were wounded, while the opposition cited hundreds of...

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