Posts Tagged ‘Chile’
The billionaire President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, has been milking the pain and suffering of the 33 miners that were trapped underground for all that it is worth.
But the carefully crafted photo-shoots with Sr. Pinera, all smiles, hides a deeper reality, other mineworkers at the San Jose mine have not been paid for two months.
Imagine, you are already short of money and then you don’t get paid for two months, that’s what the mineowners inflicted on the San Jose mineworkers.
“But their colleagues have taken to the streets in protest because they haven’t been paid since the accident, which happened two months ago.”
And the returning miners face a grim future:
“Many have returned to poverty in the hardscrabble neighborhoods that climb the hills around Copiapo, the Atacama region’s gritty capital. Some have strained relationships with the families who held vigil, praying for their survival. All face a search for work since the mine that employed them has filed for bankruptcy.
Miner Carlos Mamani lives in a small green wooden house on an unpaved road in Padre Negro, a neighborhood on a hill where the glittering street lights of Copiapo stretch out like a carpet. But Padre Negro’s 38 houses lack access to sewers and running water. Mamani and his neighbors must walk for blocks to two public taps to get water and then carry it back up the hill.
“This area is dangerous at night. Drugs are sold here and there is theft. I’ve lived here for a while and I still have to be careful to avoid problems,” said one of Mamani’s neighbors, 15-year-old Jose Vadillo.
Some miners live closer to central Copiapo, in a neighborhood where gangs mark their territory with old sneakers hanging from electricity poles. Bugueno is among those living in Tiltil Bajo, a neighborhood of wood and tin houses that lack sewage connections.”
Most of us, we can barely imagine what it must be like to be a miner.
To carve lumps of rock, extract the minerals where possible and work hundreds of metres underground in cramped conditions, surrounded by rock, sweating, breathing in the dust and all to benefit other people.
That’s what miners do.
We shouldn’t forget what price is often paid by miners themselves and their communities.
The CNN reports:
“Coal helps fuel China’s surging economy. The country tripled its annual output of coal from 1 billion tons in 1999 to 3 billion tons in 2009, according to the state-run China Daily.
Accidents killed 2,631 Chinese coal miners in 2009, according to China Daily. The most dangerous year on record was 2002, with 6,995 deaths.
In China, poor safety conditions, a lack of training and the flouting of laws contribute to the high number of deaths.
By comparison, the United States had 34 mining deaths in 2009, a record low for the country. In 2008, the United States had 53 mining deaths, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
A typical Chinese miner works 21 shifts a month, for 12 hours a shift, according to the state-run newspaper.
“It felt like hell,” one miner said of his first time down in a maze of mine tunnels.
Wang Gang, a 24-year-old miner, gave his account to China Daily.
“Given a choice, I would never work in a mine,” said Wang, whose father and grandfather were miners.
He turned to mining in March 2009 only after starting a family. He became a miner at the Wangping Mine Co. in northern Shanxi province, a state mine where his father once worked.
Wang’s wife stays up till he returns from work safely, among many such concerned family members in the coal-rich province.”
And that’s only part of it.
Update 1: BBC World Service has a good programme on the Chilean Miners, Waiting for Omar – The Rescue of A Chilean Miner.