IMAGE: Luis Aldana wears an iron mask
William Fernando Martinez  /  AP
Luis Aldana wears an iron mask in his house in Bogota, Colombia, on Saturday. The 52-year-old iron artisan sealed the mask and chained it to his hands fives days a go to begin a hunger strike, protesting the lack of work and asking the government for subsidized health care for his family.
updated 10/21/2007 2:23:25 AM ET 2007-10-21T06:23:25

Forget going on a hunger strike.

In Colombia, an unemployed man has sewn shut his mouth and locked himself behind an iron mask to demand the government attend to his family's desperate economic plight.

Luis Miguel Aldana, 52, told The Associated Press on Saturday that he adopted the peculiar form of protest five days ago, after being locked out of his apartment in Bogota. Instead of paying two months of rent, Aldana says he bought shoes for his three children.

He is demanding the government provide a loan to jump-start a cottage textile business and pay health care bills for his wife and children. Without the loan, he says his family will end up living on the streets.

"I'm doing this to get attention because people have a heart of iron and also a face of iron _ they don't listen to anybody and think this is a joke," said Aldana, speaking out of the corner of his mouth that is not sewn shut.

Aldana currently is living in a neighbor's house, where he sits in bed with his hands and legs shackled in chains.

Despite soaring economic growth the past three years, Colombia's unemployment rate remained stubbornly high at 10.6 percent in August.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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