Protesters end road blockades paralyzing Bolivia area after gov't agrees to address grievances

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Protesters suspended road blockades and hunger strikes Monday, saying government officials agreed to address their grievances after 19 days of demonstrations that paralyzed Bolivia's southern Potosi region.

Protest leaders told residents in Potosi city that officials agreed, among other things, to resume mining at Cerro Rico, reopen a metal shop, install a cement factory and resolve a boundary dispute with neighboring Oruro province.

The province has been a mining center since the Spanish colonial era and the protests were aimed at forcing the reopening of mines ordered closed by the government of President Evo Morales.

Strikers closed highways in the province and forced a shutdown of mining operations run by subsidiaries of Sumitomo Corp. of Japan and Coeur D'Alene Mines Corp. of the United States.

The road closures also had trapped foreign tourists, many of them from Europe. Several groups of the tourists were evacuated a few days ago.