Chilean president gambles on successful mission
ChILe is sparing no expense or attempted innovation in trying to rescue the trapped miners, fully aware that the country – and the world - is closely watching their ordeal.
No fewer than seven government ministers were roaming the dusty brown dirt of the makeshift camp outside the mine in Chile’s Atacama desert this week, not to mention the countless politicians, millionaire donors and observers who almost outnumber the family members camping in tents to keep vigil.
With his popularity already ebbing, recently installed president Sebastián Piñera has staked his reputation on rescuing the miners, and is constantly briefing the press in a move that reflects both his background as the billionaire former head of a media empire and the strategy that helped get him elected.
“With a conviction that seemed to border on political suicide, the authorities bet all or nothing, and this time the returns will have incalculable reach,” Max Colodro Riesenberg, a professor at the University Adolfo Ibáñez, wrote in a Chilean newspaper column this week.
What the trapped men do not know is that the mining company that hired them is doing nothing towards their rescue. The San esteban company has said it can’t afford to pay their wages and may go copper mine, company leaders defended their safety measures, but have since gone silent.
This week, the first of many expected lawsuits against San esteban and the government were filed, and a judge ordered the retention of £1.2m of company money in anticipation of future lawsuits.
despite advances in technology and increased emphasis on safety – at least publicly – mining remains a dangerous profession in this South American country.
Since 2000, about 34 people have died every year on average in mining accidents in Chile alone, reaching a high of 43 mine deaths in 2008, according to official data. A US college student accused of slashing a New York taxi driver because he is a Muslim has been moved from jail to a psychiatric ward.
Michael enright, 21, is accused of attacking Ahmed Sharif, a Bangladeshi, on Tuesday night. The UN anti-racism panel yesterday demanded France stop rounding up Gypsies to force them back to Romania. The call came a day after the archbishop of Paris described France’s crackdown as a “circus”.
An anxious relative watches video of the trapped miners at the San Jose gold and copper mine at Copiapo, 500 miles north of Santiago