Chilean miners: Above ground but below par?

Some of “Los 33” celebrate their freedom upon their rescue in San Jose.

Twelve months after being rescued from burial more than 2,296 feet deep, 33 Chilean men still receive recognition for their part in a sensational mining tragedy. However, many of them are facing worse situations than they were in before the accident — now either without a steady job or still on medical leave.

On the other hand, former employers Alejandro Bohn and Marcelo Kemeny, owners of San Esteban Mining Company, still walk freely in the country and have only faced an initial investigation.

“Los 33” have hired the Carey and Company law firm in an attempt to monetize their ordeal, establishing a company in order to protect their image and sell their story. They also signed a deal with the William Morris Endeavor agency for future movie and television projects. Well-known Hollywood producer Mike Medavoy will also make a movie of their story based on a book by Pulitzer winner Hector Tobar.

Deciding to seek justice, some sued the Chilean State, alleging negligence because of poor working conditions at the San Jose mine. Besides the lawsuit, 14 were given a $470-a-month pension from the government in answer to claims from the miners that they had suffered long-term disability or joblessness.

Taken care of?

Controversy has emerged over the effectiveness of the miners’ health care, particularly after the news that miner Edison Pena was going into rehab over his drug and alcohol addictions.
Alberto Iturra, the rescue mission’s chief psychologist, says his team couldn’t help some situations occurring after the rescue. “A struggle began on getting exclusive interviews from the media, not allowing the miners to spend more time with their families,” he explained.
According to the specialist, “Only a few days after their return to the surface, there was an explosive excess of partying and drinking for them, losing all possible control. They didn’t even have the time to rest in [the] hospital.”


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