Chilean miners’ rescue evokes many views

November 12, 2010

From the Nov.-Dec. 2010 issue of News & Letters:

Chilean miners’ rescue evokes many views

It is Oct. 13 and I am visually and sonically inundated with blow-by-blow descriptions of the Chilean miner rescue operation. TV, radio and newspapers have whipped themselves into a frenzy reporting the rescue of 33 miners from a collapsed mine in Chile. With a couple of months lead time, courtesy of the drilling process, this event has received more build-up than a Super Bowl. Naturally, everyone is glad the miners are coming out, but it seems to me this is an extreme case of media overkill that is designed to serve as a distraction from Mass-Murder Incorporated’s (M-M Inc.–the U.S. government) worldwide killing spree, if not from the mine operator’s greedy rush for profits that caused the accident in the first place.

All of America waits with bated breath as one miner at a time rises to the surface with a digital clock ticking off the time of his ascent to the second and, of course, a count of miners rescued, replete with video footage of tearful reunions with family and friends. Would it were so for those unsuspecting people blown up in their homes by the Predator drones the U.S. operates with impunity worldwide, but it is not.

As I watch the miners coming out of the ground one at a time, I can’t help but think about how many people the U.S. government is simultaneously putting in the ground. I wonder how many people were murdered in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the drones over the course of the rescue operation? How many Palestinians, Iraqis, Somalis and Yemenis? Do they not deserve a ticking clock and body count? Certainly, but there is little feel-good factor in being confronted with a second-by-second ticking body count of the murders we are responsible for as the good citizens and shareholders of M-M Inc. No, no, we can’t have that.

But why not? Why does the mainstream media ignore the big stories, the real stories? Why isn’t there a body count of every human on this planet murdered by U.S.-made weapons systems? Why not show the video footage of every single drone attack, replete with men, women and children dying in agony? This would be a stellar moment for U.S. television corporations. Real reality TV! Maybe, when fed enough reality, Americans will then treat themselves to the reality of the U.S. version of the Nuremberg Trials and the Spandau Ballet. Now that is a reality most of the world would love to see and exactly why Americans will never see it!

–Rand W. Gould, C-187131, Oct. 13
Mound Correctional Facility,
17601 Mound Rd., Detroit, MI 48212

* * *

The world was transfixed by the news of the rescue of the 33 miners in Chile. The amazing ordeal that they endured for 69 days, and the rescue process itself, reflect both the tremendous capacity for human survival and the ability of human creativity when worldwide collective energies are focused on a truly human endeavor. And as rewarding and appreciated as the rescue was, in my mind was always the fact that all of this was unnecessary, and that the concern, suffering and grief that the miners and their families endured could all have been avoided if the mine had been safer. Chilean government officials said they would take steps to make sure it did not happen again. If those officials are like those here in the U.S., there is little to hope for, as we have seen time and time again here in this country, despite the countless mine tragedies we have experienced.

–Andy Phillips, Detroit

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What must not be lost in the magnificent rescue of the 33 trapped miners, an act which deserves to be celebrated, is the sober, reflective voice of several of the miners who spoke of the mining company ignoring the safety of the miners for many, many years. It was the mine owners’ insistence on production and more production, on putting the miners’ safety on the back burner, that led to the tragedy, and to the possible serious psychological effects we may see in the future. The miners want to sue the company for what they were subjected to.

Right-wing newly elected Chilean President Sebastián Piñera may think that he can use “solidarity” with the miners to up his popularity, but real solidarity would mean a sharp disciplining of the mine owners and managers, and a rigorous future enforcement of mineworker safety.

–Eugene Walker, Mexico City

* * *

I am thinking about the Chilean miners’ situation as a metaphor for the new humanism. The importance of faith in human interdependence and capacity to protect and sustain each other as an expression of the new human relations runs counter to human relations under capitalism.

–Allan Lummus, Bastrop, Texas

* * *

Far out though it may seem, I could not help thinking that the way the trapped miners had organized themselves, so freely and so cooperatively, might be a tiny glimpse into the way a new society might actually be created some day.

–Olga Domanski, Chicago

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[caption: Since men first went down into coal mines, they have died in unconscionable numbers. This woodcut is of workers going down into the Blantyre mine in Scotland, where on Oct. 22, 1877, 207 miners died, including a boy of 11. At the same time they were pulling miners out of the mine in Chile, 37 Chinese miners died in an explosion in Yuzhou.]

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