Dario Mitidieri

The Widows of Cerro Rico

Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain) stands above what was once the largest silver mine in the world. Situated in the town of Potosi, Bolivia, the precious metals of Cerro Rico have been mined by the Spanish for almost 400 years. An estimated 8 million indigenous and African slaves have died in Cerro Rico since the sixteenth century, as the landmark, known locally as the “mountain that eats men”, continues to live up to its fearsome reputation.


With limited safety equipment and without pensions or healthcare, today, around 15,000 miners continue to work in conditions that have changed little since colonial times. Those who survive the cave-ins and poisonous gasses, likely succumb to lung disease years after leaving the mines behind. Dario’s poignant project brings focus to the widows of Cerro Rico – women often working as guards to the silver mines that killed their husbands.


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