The Bolivian government says a deputy interior minister has been beaten to death after being kidnapped by striking mineworkers. David Pollard reports.
This is the hillside in Bolivia where a deputy interior minister is said to have been kidnapped and beaten to death by striking miners. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) GOVERNMENT MINISTER, CARLOS ROMERO, SAYING: "Everything indicates that our Vice Minister of the Interior, Rodolfo Illanes, was killed in a cowardly and brutal way. We are organizing to receive the body. We are deeply pained. We pray for the pain of the family." Illanes is reported to have gone to talk to the protesters - but was intercepted and seized. Authorities say one hundred people have been arrested. Protests by miners turned violent this week after a main highway was blockaded. Two workers killed in a shooting on Wednesday, 17 police reported wounded. The miners were once strong allies of leftist President Evo Morales. But his government has been hampered by accusations of cronyism in recent years - his once strong base of union support now seen eroding. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "What we can say about Bolivia is that this isn't the first time that we've heard this sort of news - in fact, this sort of news stretches back over decades. So from that point of view, perhaps it's not as shocking coming from Bolivia as it would be from some other countries. I think it's fair to say that if you are an investor, then, yes, you do treat any Bolivian investments with a huge deal of caution." In one of South America's poorest economies, the miners are calling for less stringent environmental regulation, the right to work for private companies and greater union representation.