Short ‘n’ Stubby: Chilean mine rescue afterparty edition


Ms. Manx, being an introvert, finds parties a tad overwhelming and battery-draining. She prefers to kick back and relax after it’s all over, hear herself think, and nibble a bowl of tasty tidbits. Here’s what she found to munch on today:’s Mary Elizabeth Williams has been covering the human-interest angle of the mine rescue with introspective pieces that are in line, generally, with Ms. Manx’s view of it all. The Stumpy Cat’s fave so far is this one, in which Williams accurately diagnoses the real secret of the “miracle” rescue: human solidarity (which, incidentally, is an adaptive trait; science confirms it.) The money quote comes from rescued miner #2, Mario Sepúlveda: “I would like to see the world united by love, not a religious love, but just no more fights, no more war.” Bingo!

Another piece, which gets mixed reviews from the Resident Stumpie, is this one, in which Williams manages to get right the miners’ need for breathing space, but then makes the mistake of conflating survival with heroism. Ms. Manx shakes her head at that sugary interpretation, and says she prefers this one, which correctly distinguishes between survivors (the miners) and heroes (their rescuers). More importantly, it underscores Chile’s shoddy workplace safety record, particularly in the mines. (Ms. Manx would like to refer you back to this post, in which Che Guevara and Alberto Granado revealed the ugly cracks in the system more than 50 years ago, and remind you that very little has changed since then, at least for the poorest Chileans.)

Ms. Manx also likes that there is talk of punishing the mining companies that are out of compliance. But she would prefer action, and frankly, she has her grave doubts that Sebastián Piñera is good for anything other than putting in a token appearance on this front. That said, she IS glad that he stuck around to see every single man brought out of the hole. But she would expect no less of any leader, and indeed, much more out of Chavecito, Evo and El Ecuadorable, all of whom have survived attempts on their lives after working their butts off to truly improve the lot of their people. Piñera doesn’t strike her as being anywhere near that level of valor. Maybe that’s because he has deep and troubling connections to the very man responsible for Chilean mines’ current state of laxity and shoddiness. One of them is his brother, José–infamous and despised for his labor-union “reforms”, and for having privatized the Chilean pension system, in line with Milton Friedman’s free-market (read: enslaved-people) doctrines. Oh yeah, and here’s something else José Piñera did, that has direct repercussions in this case: He privatized Chile’s state-owned mines. That may explain why conditions there are so shitty, no?

And speaking of Augusto Pinochet, he has some troubling ties of his own–to Copiapó of all places, the mining town nearest the disaster site. The NY Times account is harrowing, but not nearly in-depth enough. The last paragraph is key:

“March 11, 2010, the right wing is back at the scene of the crime,” reads a line of graffiti on one of Copiapó’s walls, referring to Mr. Piñera’s inauguration date — presumably spray-painted before his popularity was bolstered by the rescue.

Something tells me Piñera won’t be coasting on that ratings boost for very long, unless he makes good on his promise to punish the offenders. And unless he reverses the damage his brother did under Pinochet. Somehow, considering his repeated refusal to condemn the dictator (and his supporters’ odious idolatry of the old fascist torturer!), Ms. Manx is deeply skeptical of this president.

Oh yeah, and it’s also why she thinks articles like this one are fit only to line her litterbox with. Pinochet is not “buried” in Piñera’s Chile, he’s still very much alive. And for proof of that, look no further than how the indigenous people are being treated. Did you know that the Mapuche are on hunger strike? And that their peaceful protests are meeting with violent reprisals? No? Thank the media circus in Copiapó for that oversight. And then read this and play catch-up.

And finally, on a lighter note (more for us than for the parties involved), Ms. Manx dug up this bit of español, which I’ll précis very precisely here. Seems that the miner whose mistress showed up to greet him with a big, shameless smooch not only scared off his spouse, but another woman, this one just 25 years old. She beat up the younger one, and defends herself thusly: “I hit her, she had to be driven away with blows…How else should I act, if I’m in love?” Oh yeah, and she dissed the miner’s lawfully wedded wife, too: “When the money showed up, all the dead came out of the tomb. This old bag came out of the tomb because she thought Yonni was dead, to collect the money.” Interesting way of putting it, Susana. Unfortunately, after 10 years of carrying on but with no divorce forthcoming, it’s unlikely that she’ll see a peso. And that younger one is all the more indication that he’s not to be trusted. In her shoes, Ms. Manx says, she’d find another tomcat, one with clearer stripes.

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