Tag Archives: El Minero Del Diablo

A movie that moved me…El Minero Del Diablo

2 Aug

As part of my mission to learn Spanish en route and because I have always loved foreign movies I have watched a few foreign movies along my journey.

One of the best has been El Minero Del Diablo, “The Devil’s Miner” .  This tells the story of a young boy, Basilio who is 14 and his younger brother, Bernardo, who work in the Potosi mines at Cerro Rico.  Their father is dead and they must work in the mines to eke out a living for their family.  They live on the slopes of Cerro Rico and their mother looks after the entrance of the mines (along with their little sister) to make sure none of the miners’ tools are stolen.

They work to try to earn enough to gain an education and buy the clothes and things they need for school.  One of the sad things is that other kids at the school they attend make fun of them because they work in the mines.

The footage inside the mines is incredible with the story being told through the eyes and words of Basilio.  He tries to work alongside his brother so that he can look after him and though young they seem, when they are inside the mines, like old men.  They worship “El Tio”, the devil inside the mine believing that that will keep them safe from the many hazards which exist inside the mines.  It is strange watching two young kids make offerings to “El Tio” when they should really be at school and playing football with their mates.

The highlight of the year for them is the carnival.  This is when the miners all dress up and dance through the streets.  They call it “Ch’alla” and on that day they make offerings to the mines and to pachamama to ask for health and good fortune.  They also splatter the doors of the mines with the blood of a sacrificed llama again to seek good fortune.  This is a huge event for the miners with fabulous costumes, wonderful dances and native songs.  For Basilio and his brother the highlight is being together as a family and you see in their eyes the pride they have when their mother and cute younger sister watch them in the parade.

Their hope for the future is that they can get an education and stop working in the mines.  One of the funniest moments in the movie is when Basilio is telling his younger brother about the solar system.  There is something strange about talking about the solar system in the depths, darkness and bleakness of the mines.

The movie came out in 2005.  Has life changed for Basilio and his family?  In short, not really.  They still live on the slopes of Cerro Rico.  Basilio now works as a guide taking tourists into the mines.  He recounted to a friend of mine that he received some money from the filmmakers but not all that he was supposed to….and not enough to move away from the mines…

This movie cannot help but move you in the way that it moved me..and I suppose if it raises awareness of the child workers in the mines it has made a difference in that way…

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