It was thrilling for me as I am sure it was for all of you to witness the successful rescue of the 33 Chilean miners trapped deep underground for 69 days following a collapse at the San Jose copper and gold mine on August 5th. Much of the Spanish language press here in
For one, there are the dangerous working conditions faced by miners world wide and by Latin American miners in particular. Chile is much safer than a place like China were hundreds of miners die ever year, or closer neighbors like Mexico or Colombia, were dozens have died in the last couple years. But the life of a Chilean miner still carries great risk. And by most reports the situation is getting worse. The
Much is being made of the showering of gifts on the miners from wealthy benefactors around the world, including free trips to
But in the end it is worker solidarity and resilience that is the most ennobling element of this story. In the words of blogger Lucian E. Marin of 21stcenturymanifesto.wordpress.com... “The way in which the 33 organized themselves underground, especially during the initial 17 days before they were found – a period they survived on only 48 hours of rations between them – was truly exemplary, reflecting humanity at its best.” Or in the words of Partha Banerjee of Countercurrents.org… “What courage, what resilience, what organization and optimism even against the most extreme adversities! Miracle? Sure, we all know that; we'd say the same thing if one of our family members had experienced the situation. But it's also much more than that. It's the fighting spirit of the working people. It's their solidarity.” And international miners solidarity has been evident throughout, from support in the rescue effort, to vacation time in Greece at the expense of a Greek mining company (an idea put forward by Greek miners), to invitations to visit England from Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton, the son of a miner. Like in so many other recent tragedies around the world, it is workers solidarity that provides the bright light amidst the darkness.
Here are some links that can help shed light on the lessons of the Chilean miners...