In the middle of a vast salt desert in Bolivia, tour guide Angel Calani crouches down and jabs his index finger into the crusted earth. “Litio,” he announces as he withdraws his finger, now glistening with brine. “We could mine it for a thousand years and not run out.” The 4,000-square-mile
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But such vast wealth also came at a price. Thousands of the indigenous people were forced to work at the mines, where many perished through accidents, brutal treatment, or poisoning by the mercury used in the extraction process. Around 30,000 African slaves were also brought to the city, where they were forced to work and die as human mules.