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Is this a new chapter for Chile?

15:12 UK time, Sunday, 17 October 2010

Days after the rescue of 33 miners in Chile, President Sebastian Pinera is in the UK as part of a European tour. Is this a defining moment for Chile?

Mr Pinera has met the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron, and has given his hosts a fragment of rock from the San Jose mine where a group of miners were trapped for 69 days.

The rescue at the San Jose mine attracted worldwide attention and is still being celebrated in Chile. Mr Pinera said that his country's successful rescue operation had given a good example to the world of "commitment, courage, faith, hope and unity".

Do you live in Chile? Does the Chilean mine rescue represent a turning point for the country? Does the incident provide an example of unity to the rest of the world? What does this mean for Chile's place on the international stage?

This debate is closed. Thank you for your comments.


  • Comment number 1.

    President Sebastian Pinera claims he will now work to a better safer mining industry in Chile. Let us look in a few years time to see if this promise has been kept or is he like all people in his position and riding a tide of national euphoria to make himself look better. time as ever, will tell

  • Comment number 2.

    Is this a new chapter for Chile? Why would it be?

  • Comment number 3.

    Well As a far as the UK is concerned.It certainly needs strong ties with a South American country .. Chile seems to fit the bill . So it's probably is a new chapter for both Chile and the UK

  • Comment number 4.

    Pinera was very happy to announce that he would be sharing a cup of tea with Cameron at No 10 Downing Street "on Monday". He told Cameron that he admired "the fine job" that Cameron was doing. Hm. Right-wing
    Multi-Millionaires stick together. There were 33 heroic miners and 6 super heroic rescuers in the Chilean disaster, Pinera, multi-millionaire politician, was not one of them. But he is the one making a triumphant
    tour round Europe.
    Nothing will change in Chile. Even the disastrous mine will not be closed down for good and the gap
    between the luxurious living standards of the ruling class and that of the vast majority struggling at the bottom of the heap will continue unchanged.

  • Comment number 5.

    The new chapter started in Chile when a military junta took over a basket case of a country. It left it in a totally different state in spite of attempts by external forces to thwart it and demonize the junta.

  • Comment number 6.

    I never thought of Chile as still under the Pinochet dictatorship as they have elections like other democracies.

    They also produce fine wines!

    I can't understand how Chile will be different as what theyachieved was the rescue of 33 miners, which is the opposite to what happens in China who regularly sees high numbers killed in mining accidents.

    Any decent society should do all it can to saves lives in mining accidents and not use it as a propoganda exercise for the political leaders.

  • Comment number 7.

    A new chapter? Why should it? Is it because Chile's president stood grinning in front of the cameras all the time during the pathetic resue reality show, cashing in the political profit? So now he is a reality TV celebrity and I suspect that - very very horribly sadly - means more to some people out there than politics...

  • Comment number 8.

    Time will tell...
    People thought that Argentina was moving into a new chapter after the Falklands War when full democracy was restored...notice anything really different to their stance over the Falklands...time has shown that there isn't one jot of change...
    Lets wait and see where Chile goes over the next few years.

  • Comment number 9.

    President Pinera is an extremely astute politician who knows how to react to events to his political advantage, and boy, does he know it! The rescue of the Chilean miners must have been like manna from heaven to him. All credit to him for turning this tide of events to his political advantage. Blair would have done exactly the same in this country. Brown would have tried to do the same in his own awkward and clumsy way. What we are about to see of course is world politicians basking in the reflection of Pinera's success in catching the public mood that is spreading like wildfire. Events, dear boy, events is what can make or break any member of the political classes.

  • Comment number 10.

    Chilean Wine is great.

    Seriously, the beginning of the mining rescue is intially due to those men who persisted and found the survivors.

    The rest is down to the Chilean President who, presumably, ensured that the rescuers on the surface had access to the very best available expertise on earth. That said, all those working and collaborting on the surface have to be commended - whatever their contribution. Well done to all those unsung people who dedicated their time and efforts to the whole area, plus to their support to all miner's families affected.

  • Comment number 11.

    What's in a name? I'd hoped the era of Chilean presidents' names beginning with "Pin" was over.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi BBC: there's just a few postings on this one so far but I think it's already making you look a bit silly. These 'heroic' miners had no choice: they either gave up after the accidental turn of events that left them down there, or did what any of you would do... try to hang out for a rescue mission to save you. It's an uplifting event that they all got out, but it was all no more than a happy ending to a big accident. Chile is in the spotlight for a few weeks as a result, but I do think you BBC people are getting just a tad media-centric. Why would any of this change the profile of an entire nation on the international stage?

    There is life outside of soaps and accidental real life drama.

    The collapse of biodiversity; global pollution and climate change; international wars; economic chaos... don't you think you should be looking at these sort of things on HYS?

    In the near future this mine collapse, if not completely forgotten, will be at best a dramatised documentary screened to keep our minds off more important issues.

    It's quite scary the way those in charge of Earth's media think... or don't.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hopefully the new chapter will be:-

    Health and safety is revised for mineworkers, considering that between the rescue of 33 miners and the UK visit, 2 miners lost their lives elsewhere in Chile.

  • Comment number 14.

    the miner in chile are getting all this attention why

  • Comment number 15.

    Even though this is one of greatest rescue stories ever told, the mining industry is laden with injustice, especially in workers’ salaries & safety. I doubt that this will be a turning point.
    The momentary fame surrounding Chile should act as a wake-up call, and this call should be shouting: “How many more mining accidents? How many more trapped men? How many more dead men? How many more injured men? How many more…?
    This shouting needs to be heard across the mining world – in the United States, in China – wherever men go far below ground to risk their lives excavating coal, minerals, ore – all things to make rich companies richer.
    Will all mining countries now stop to absorb the lesson? Will government reforms pour out over this dangerous occupation?
    I doubt it.
    I'll bet that the San Jose Mine will remain closed little less than a year (given the abundance of ore that sits below ground, untapped).
    Mark my words: Another company will arrive and set up work. Chile, like so many under-deveoped countries is still ruled by economic interests, and most of these economic interests are foreign. The mining industry has long been Chile’s main economic income, and despite significant diversification of the country’s economy over the past few decades, copper and minerals still account for 50% of Chile’s exports.
    There are requests to put the image of the 33 miners on the Chilean equivalent of the US one dollar bill. This seems fair since Chile rides on the backs of its miners.
    A heroic rescue does not take away the death and injuries of the past; it does not eliminate current dangers. What is the Chilean government changing to change the mining industry? In September, Chile celebrates her bicentennial.
    The San Esteban Mining Company (the company involved in this accident)was in financial trouble even before the main access tunnel to its copper and gold mine collapsed. The rescue operation will add millions of dollars to its debts. San Esteban and the National Mining and Geology Service have already been criticized for allegedly not complying with regulations.
    Altogether, Chile spent somewhere around $5M for the rescue. Why didn't Chile spend this money beforehand on the safety of the mining sector?
    Nothing will change unless the international community that so eagerly watched the rescue, just as eagerly pushes for mining reform - wherever mining occurs.

  • Comment number 16.

    As a side issue. I did note that in general the Chileans weren't covered from head to toe in tattoos , and weren't dress like something out of the Beano! I for one would be glad to build up trade and relations with such a god fearing nation..What we have go to consider is if the Chileans want to build up relations with such a Self centered ME ME ME nation ,that look and dress as though they have just arrived from the planet ZOG .

  • Comment number 17.

    It could be, and Sebatian Pinera is correct in persuing it before something else grabs attention. Media and Politician's attention span is extremely short.
    Chile supply Quality Fresh Veg and Fruits to much of US and Canada in Winter at very Reasonable Prices.

    I Sincerely HOPE this Epic Event propels Chile into Global Prominence. Anywhere else those Miners would, in all liklehood have been Written-Off considering the ENORMITY of their Rescue.

  • Comment number 18.

    This has definitely been an example of unity among the Chileans. Never did I hear any negative criticism about the mining accident as the rescue operation unfolded. All the Chileans were pulling together and doing their best.

  • Comment number 19.

    Yes ...JUST BECAUSE THEY DID IT ...No Talk Feast, No Consultants, No Bureaucrats, They simply recruited the best miners and experts and equipment from around the world and did it!!

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm not sure how rescuing some miners is "a new chapter" for Chile. Obviously one of the staff at BBC's "Have your say" is getting carried away again. It seems since the Tories got elected we don't get any real debates on here anymore. Yes I'm glad the men were rescued but we have other news to talk about.

  • Comment number 21.

    By all accounts Chile is a very well managed country and deserves to bask in the world limelight following the rescue of the miners.

    Chile has been a good ally to Britain in the past and I hope this continues.

  • Comment number 22.

    The saturation courage can now backfire because people are beginning to get bored by it.

  • Comment number 23.

    I do not live in Chile, but I think this rescue would represent a turning point for the country. On the International stage, Chileans would be known not only as a nation that is full of compassion for others, but also as a nation that provides an example of unity to the rest of the world.

    This rescue also becomes an example for any other countries which have similar problem but rather ignore it and do not do anything in helping mining workers getting out from the trap.

    Politically, Chile gained international attention. Therefore, this turning point could be beneficial for them to attract international community, and perhaps would assist them on international diplomacy, economy, even its tourism industry in the future.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think the people commenting here, I presume as outsiders, don´t see the whole picture.
    For at least 20 years, since the return of democracy, there hadn't been a single drop of nacionalism or pride for being Chilean. The best thing that could happen to you in here was to be born in another country or to have european grandparents. So this accident proved to every chilean that we´re not those medeocre, lazy people that everybody (inside this very country!) claimed we were. You can actually hear in the streets people saying "WE chileans...", instead of the former "They..." you used notice. So this incident became an extremly powerful symbol of union, that our goverment (specially our president, as the BBC has noticed) inmediatly decided to make the most of, by becoming the "recipient" of this unifying feeling, and by enlarging this nationalist feeling into, sometimes, scrying proportions.

    So yes, I do believe that this is a turning point for the country. But, as every symbol with such power (like the return of democracy in Chile, like Mandela himself!) it HAS to be complemented with actions, otherwise all this excitement will just fade. Like it happened the last 16 years here.

    Greetings form Chile.

  • Comment number 25.

    In common with other commentators here, I really can't see how on earth rescuing a group of miners marks some "new chapter" for a country.

    And what if the rescue operation had gone wrong, eg only half of them rescued or none at all. Would it still mark a "new chapter"?

    Plus President Pinera handing out bits of rock as if it's the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Cheap media opportunity, that's all.

    If anyone from Chile should travel to London right now on a junket - and hand out pieces of rock, it should be the rescued miners themselves. That perhaps would mark a "new chapter".

  • Comment number 26.

    A new chapter? Why? The Chilean state run mine could not even handle the rescue. But, of course, the Chilean government is quick to put their own propaganda spin on the rescue. They made sure all foreign nationals involved were never shown on TV. They never disclosed where they got the mining equipment for the rescue, some of which they did not have. The American from Pennsylvania, who was in Afganistan when the accident occurred, was pulled from Afghanistan to drill the hole, since he was considered one of the best. After he broke through the mine where the miners were located, he quietly left so the Chilean president could grin in front of the cameras as though he did something. Nothing wrong with national pride, but give credit to all who deserve credit.

    Maybe that was where Obama went wrong with the BP oil spill. While BP engineers (from all over the world) were trying to plug the spill, he should have stood in front of the television and spoke as though it was only an American effort and made sure that no British or foreign sounding people got any airtime or credit. Then when the line was capped, he could have glorified in the achievement of being the first to cap a line that deep and gave credit to American ingenuity. That would have been a line from the Chilean presidents book. Disgraceful and pathetic.

  • Comment number 27.

    I did wonder why the media made such a meal of these miners predicament when there are similar situations currently and there is zero i know. This chile government is oppressive using old laws left over from a dictatorship to silence protestors.....just our governments kind of people. I guess the media charade was a PR exercise

  • Comment number 28.

    For as long as the press gets a story out of it and then it will be-Chile who,what where?yawn!

  • Comment number 29.

    As a Chilean living in the UK for a number of years, I agree with what some of the posts say (written by Chilean people) and not some of the posts written by foreign nationals who have never lived in my country. I do believe that this episode has helped with national unity and a sense of pride. Chile has been badly affected this year by an earthquake which was grade 8.8 on the Richter scale (the 8th strongest earthquake in the world, in the last 200 years). This country is an example of triumph over adversity. It is also a country with many Christians (over 11% of the population is committed Evangelical Christian), plus the huge Catholic population. Yes there are inequalities between rich and poor, but never have the poor been better off than they are today. The country is an example of peace, hard work and prosperity in the region. Chile deserves to have a new chapter and I believe it will have one now.

  • Comment number 30.

    Chile averages nearly 40 fatalities annually in its privatised mines that further entrench wealth and power in a brutal economic and political system where democracy has remained buried since Chile's horrific 9/11 in 1973. John Pilger recently (14/10/10) wrote a searing assessment - (14/10/10) - of mainstream media silence on Chile's enduring power abuses. He states that at President Pinera's lecture today on 'current events' at the London School of Economics, attention should be drawn to one salient example of those abuses - the forestry corporation takeover of the ancestral lands of the indigenous Mapuche people who valiantly battle against political terrorism.

  • Comment number 31.

    Wether the rescue of the miners is a wateshed moment for Chile, depends not on what happened, but how the Chilean people as a whole, including the President, elect to react to the event; whether they make it a watershed moment as a result of changed spirit, thinking and action. The rescue of the miners is clearly a very heartening event, particularly given the dominance in international news of events demonstrating inhumanity rather than humanity. The rescue clearly was an event that can serve to help to unify Chile spiritually. Whether that spiritual unity can catalyze in a new chapter for Chile remains to be seen. Congratulations to Chile for a well executed and successful rescue

  • Comment number 32.

    IMHO, this could be an important juncture for Chile. I am Canadian, coming to, investing in Bolivia { mining and private NGO } since 1990. Because I am not Chilean, Peruvian, Bolivia or American, many opportunities were presented to me, not because of who I am but because of who I am not. Altho I have experince in other countries {Rhodesia come Zimbabwe} I was nervous regarding the military still being "in charge" as recently as three years ago. Every time I looked at business, it seemed controlled by the military or retired military who were just below the surface.
    Two personal instances stand out of personal not business incidents {which would identify me immediately}. Five years ago, I went to see the Giant of Atacama {North of Iqueque} by taxi. On returning the taxi stopped behind a stalled truck at the stop sign prior to entering the north/south PanAmerican hiway. The taxi driver would not drive around the stalled truck, forcing me to do so. He was afraid of being arrested for doing so.
    Two years ago, I was flying AirCanada to Toronto from BuenosAires. This flight stops at Santiago, Chile coming and going. A lady got on in Santiago, sat next to me, and shortly into the flight conversation turned to ask why did I not invest in Chile instead of Bolivia, to which I replied, because the military were still in charge, to which she turned ghostly white. I felt like the proverbial. Turns out, she fled to Montreal at the time of Pinochet, was now retired, and was a snowbird returning for six months of the year, avoiding the great white north Canadian Winters. She knew what I said was true, I felt horrible rest of that trip {and still do for that}.
    Now the President Pinera said that maybe the world will remember Chile for the rescue of "Los 33" instead Pinochet coup.
    Well I am thinking as did many Zimbabweans who left for South africa etc., voting with my feet. I saw President Pinera put his "cajones" personally on the line for this rescue, which had very high odds against it, finding the miners, then if they were alive, never mind the odds of rescuing them.
    And then I look at "Evo", who could not even make it to the mine rescue site in his personal ex "Manchester United" personal jet to welcome the trapped Bolivian miner to the surface on time. I think that Bolivia miner is one very smart hombre, when Evo invited him back to Bolivia for a free house and a government mining job, he declined. I think I shall seriously reconsider where to live and invest directly.
    This could be a sea change for Chile. The 1980's Chilean miracle was based upon two things: 1. Proper codified Tax Law, 2. Proper, titled, Mining Law. the rest became history from a materialistic perspective. Now if they can also deal with non-materialistic aspects of life, Chile could, maybe be fantastic.
    President Pinera, opportunity knocks!

  • Comment number 33.

    Every fable has a moral. The Chilean mine rescue was necessary because mine safety provided miners with a refuge in the case of a fall but not a way out. In the glare of global publicity Chile did what was needed.

    Oh, and politicians never miss a trick.

  • Comment number 34.

    The World economic crisis may have been a turning point for Chile, which is coming out virtually unscathed after years of careful economic management. As for the miners, it's excellent that they're out and conditions for workers will probably improve a bit now, since the country can afford it. But there are much bigger changes happening here than successful collaboration to drill a hole. Yes, the people also care about the miners, but Chileans have shown that kind of solidarity as long as I've known them.

  • Comment number 35.

    I an a Chilean living in Santiago and I feel proud of what has been done and do believe it is a turning point, we are a small nation and we tend to magnify things, things can overtly affect us, a bit like "super mario" who is currently suffering the blues in hospital after the elation of getting out, and we are on a roll now. I mean, as a fellow national wrote, on the news people would often say "este pais (this country)" when refering to our homeland, rather than saying "nuestro pais (our country)", a subcontious tick harping to the divisions that have hitherto plagues us, but now, I have started hearing the our country bit much more.

    I also think ordinary chileans have still not grasped the enormity of the event, to have you folks debating the coming of age ob my country is extremelly significant to me, I mean, I failed to post anything on this site for the whole duration of the Pinichet case and its chilena sequel, even though I read the site everyday, simply because of the personal anguish the subject matter creates in my heart, yet the miners and their rescue has made me see things so much more differently.

    I did not vote for Pinera, (although I hesitated in the ballot box), simply becasue of genetics and history, having suffered I had a negative predisposition which many around me still hold towards things right of center, yet these recednt events make me feel I can band together with my countrymen and shout out loud "¡vamos Chile!"

  • Comment number 36.

    Whether this is a turning point in Chile remains to be seen, but the task is very much uphill and needs more than TV sound-bites to fix it.

    First of all is the issue of income distribution in Chile, which is in the range of the top decile receiving 47% of the country's income, the bottom 1.7%. That sort of gap causes trouble, social friction, resentment, and ultimately, violence, be it at a domestic level, at neighbourhood level, and in social crime. The other day I was speaking to a State school teacher in a working class neighbourhood of Santiago (La Florida) who told me many of the children came from broken homes, families on low incomes, parents alcoholic and violent, prevalent drug abuse, sexual abuse, physical and mental abuse. It wasn't a happy picture.

    When the dictatorship ended in 1990, almost half the Chilean population was living below the poverty line. The official figure today is around 13.5% (2 million) of the population, but this is a figure that has been frequently questioned, particularly by people working in government. The problem would appear to lie in how the figure is calculated, and one eminent economist kindly explained to me that the calculation is based on the IV survey of family budgets (IV Encuesta de Presupuestos Familiares) calculated in 1988. If the last such survey (2007) is used for the same purpose, the number of those below the poverty line in Chile rockets to 29%.

    Felipe Larrain made an interesting critique of this point during the final years of the Concertación government of Michele Bachelet - which can be read (in Spanish) here:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Felipie Larraín is now Minister of the Economy, and has so far not repeated his criticism, or rectified the way poverty figures are calculated in Chile.

    Chile is a two-tier society par excellance: those who can (the middle classes and upwards) send their children to private schools and then on to university, more or less assuring them of a secure and reasonable income once they hit the job market. The situation of the working class is more problematic: State schools, after serious underfunding during the Pinochet years, are still in a precarious condition, and although resources have been channelled over the last 20 years, the level of education received by students is generally poor, much more so in rural sectors. A much lower percentage of students go on to higher education, and thus for the majority a life on a low income is unavoidable.

    And there's one very curious and somewhat disturbing side to Chilean society: domestic workers. Every day in Santiago, tens of thousands of women leave their homes in poor neighbourhoods early in the morning and make their way to the middle and upper class districts, to clean, cook, childcare. A typical working day is from, say 8.30 till 6 or 7 in the evening, add on to that an average travel time of 3 hours a day. Wages are low, and more than half are not given a legal contract, or any form of labour benefit (pension, unemployment insurance, health insurance). It of course is a great benefit for the emancipation of middle-class women, able to work or just lead a social life, but what happens to the children of 'las nanas' (the name given to domestic female workers). Drive through any working class district and one of the things that stands out is how many kids are out on the streets alone, and I've often seen some no more than 4 or 5 years old, and late in the evening, playing on the side of the road (there aren't many parks or green spaces in Santiago, at least not in the poorer districts).

    Labour conditions are another thorny issue, especially work safety. Chile does have a Works Inspection (Inspección de Trabajo) body to supervise workers' complaints and inspect workplace conditions, although it is seriously underfunded, and only able to inspect conditions in the larger industrial sectors, rather the middle or lower sectors of industry. Workers can make an anonymous complaint to the inspectorate about general conditions - but in the case of small firms, this seems to rarely happen, as there is a fear of the whole staff being replaced. Most people in Chile are employed by small and medium-sized firms.

    Chlie has also signed numerous free-trade agreements (USA, Canada, Mexico, China, the EU) but as far as labour rights are concerned, not too helpful: if a worker in a firm wishes to report an infringement, or take the case to court, the firm involved cannot be touched: rather, the worker must sue the government.

    Some industrial sectors have become quite notorious for their working conditions in the last few years, particularly the salmon industry, forestry sector and agriculture. I've heard (unconfirmed) reports of female workers being given adult nappies on fish farms, so as not to provide toilet facilities while they're in the water. And many reports of abusive labour conditions in the same sector, where women make up a large section of the labour force. And why is Chilean wine such good quality and such a low price? As an Australian wine expert told me a few years ago, everyone in the international wine industry knows the Chilean producers can undercut their competitors in Europe and N. America, thanks to the low wages and poor labour conditions provided to the workforce.

    I would say abuse of power is commonplace, albeit kept very low-key, and certainly not at the levels of some neighbouring countries. The sad thing about Chile is that, given its small population (17 million) and considerable natural resources and income, there is no good reason for it not being a more equitable and fairer society, which would benefit social cohesion, stability, physical and mental health, etc. But as it is right now, a person born in uptown Santiago (Las Condes, Vitacura, La Reina) has on average an extra ten-year lifespan than someone born in a poor neighbourhood such as La Cisterna or Renca.

    So yes, Mr Piñera has his job cut out if he wants to fix the holes in Chilean society, and only three and a half years left to do it - starting, I imagine, with providing proper housing for the thousands of earthquake victims still waiting in temporary shelters for the government housing reconstruction programmme to get kick-started.

  • Comment number 37.

    In my opinion, two main factors help secure all the men trapped in Chilean mine are luckiness and government's effort. The former is the most important factor because the miners was still alive after collapsing the tunnel.

  • Comment number 38.

    Chile is on a ROLL. Dealing first with a huge Earthquake and Tsunami without much outside help (tsunami was BAD, there are Fishing Trawlers stranded far inland). Then averting the Mine Disaster.
    The manner in which Chilean Govt handled both was IMPRESSIVE considering they don't have unlimited resources.

    Good Fortune has to break-out anytime, Chile Earned it. I'm Rooting for You Chile, you've been Severely Tested Twice and Prevailed both times.

  • Comment number 39.

    I am afraid a lot of you have very misinformed ideas about presidente Piñera. He may be the first "right wing" president Chile has had in a while but I would posit that is a good thing. Look at how Latin American economies have fared historically under leftist leaders with your a-typical semi-socialist agendas. Chile has finally decided to see how things go with someone who understands how to make money and improve an economy. Also it is ridiculous to compare Piñera to Pinochet as Pinochet took over militarily and Piñera was elected. If some of you would actually spend some time in Chile you would see that even though there is still disparity between the rich and the poor it is not the same situation as 100 years ago with all the land owners controlling all the assets and the poor working the land. In Chile, people are able to make their own futures by going to universities and studying. Things are not perfect but they are not as bad as some of you make it seem. There is a lot of opportunity and motivated people can make a good life there. This being said there is always room for improvement and always negative things that could be better.

  • Comment number 40.

    Also, one must realize there are cultural issues at play. In Chile there are comunas like La Florida where alcohol is more prevalent along with crime and poverty, but this isn't necessarily because of holes in the government's policies. In some respects I will admit that the government could work at ensuring higher wages for teachers and better funding for schools, but at the same time having lived in Chile half of my life I also have seen plenty of people who choose to not study, to drink, to carretear(party) and to blame all their problems on the rich when in reality they are creating self fulfilling prophecies of alcoholism and joblessness. One of the biggest problems in Chile stems from the fact that there is still a lot of racism and classist thought. This is the legacy of Spain and those who originally conquered the land from the Mapuche people. I would also posit that labor laws could be revamped to disallow some of the blatantly inappropriate rules like having to submit a head shot for certain jobs and having to be from a certain list of comunas. One must also realize just how much Marxist thought still has a hold of the lower classes. They see it often in this idealized way and act as though it holds the answers to making Chile better when history has shown the folly of Marxism over and over again. My perspective is different having lived in Chile for so long. Even though most of you would say Pinochet was evil and a dictator I would posit that if not for him Chile would not be one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America. I knew a sweet old lady from La Cisterna (where I lived for a while) who told me about how Allende was instating a whole range of laws and policies when he was elected that actually took people's businesses (or at least a lot of their profits) away and also how many families (rich land owners yes but still it was their land for generations) having large parcelas (portions of their land) taken away and given to workers and families with no claim to the land other than that they worked it all their life. There is no clear cut way to look at the history of Chile. Sure Pinochet did TERRIBLE things but he also prevented Chile from heading into a communist/socialist state that would have them on par with Cuba. Chile is a beautiful country with a beautiful history and it has flaws as well as great strengths. I guess I resent how this question almost assumes Chile is screwed up and or that it has been screwed up and is just now getting better.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think not. The politicians are just using the rescue as a photo op and trying to imply that they played a role in the successful outcome.

  • Comment number 42.

    Nothing will change because if it does then Chile will price itself out of the mining market just as the UK did when we started to pay proper attention to health and wage.

  • Comment number 43.

    people and policies are the same all over the world, governments back companies before people, hence the huge problems with mining and engineering,where there are foreign investment eager to rob the ordinary people of their living standards,because of poor working conditions,low wages,poor housing,poor sanitation,Chile and it's policies are no different,when it comes to profit,company first, worker will have to wait for a public debate before any resilution is to be affordable, as for the return of the thirty three miners to home and family,they are more deserving of being called angels with dirty faces,than leaders of nations.

  • Comment number 44.

    Is this a new chapter for Chile? I could reassure that it is absolutely not because saving life for the miners is an obligation.

  • Comment number 45.

    I really think that the rescue of the 33 miners of San Jose was and obligation and also a distraction, I lived in chile until last september, now I currently live in italy, and by reading the news online, on on terra for example, I couldn't get anything but the miners, distraction was drawn from other important news for the country, for instance the extradiction of one of the plotters on the murder of Jaime Guzman (a right-wing senator of the republic in the early post pinochet gov) and the revelation that the government knew of this plot days before it happend. A distraction about the reconstruction after the earthquake, the 5th largest earthquake in recorded history.

    The truth is that I think that piñera's election is the turning point here, not the miners, to be able to have an economical push like is having chile now after that earthquake I think its a proof. I think that bachellet did better than I expected, but she is the one to blame for the death of a lot of people on 27th february, after skiping the protocol, and canceling the tsunami alert. I'm ashamed of her.

  • Comment number 46.

    if people are born poor the riches of others will remain a distant treasure.In countries like Chile,with Spanish connections,there will always be a refrigerated move to prevent progress for the worker,the poor,because of mercenary marketeering founded on European enterprises,
    and others whose main interest is to ensure that poverty survives.

  • Comment number 47.

    One touch of Nature makes the whole world akin. Unity in the face of adversity has won for the battling miners a deserving victory and lent them a new lease of life. This heralds a call for celebration for the entire nation. The world waited and watched with bated breath and a prayer on its lips. Chile however should not rest on its laurels. It should scour for better and latest equipment and upgrade safety norms for all miners. This marks the beginning of a new era in the annals of Chile history.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think the Chilean miner rescue has sparked a new lease of life for Chile. I would expect the country is currently full of pride and they should take full advantage of that. Everybody loves a good ending to a story and if you don't your a grumpy old Hector.

    For me the entire experiance has changed my outlook on Chile, and I'm sure it will have influenced millions of people to change there opinion on what I presumed was a backwards country.

  • Comment number 49.

    As Chilean citizen and the rest of the world we cant forget Piñera was a politician who supported the Pinochet´s goverment as good buisness man he loves camera as we saw it at the 33 rescue miners the last days. And for sure his goverment its going to try to fix the chilean image around the world. By luck there is a new ages for Chile and its a new and modern society ready for changes like this. But there are too much things to fix as transport laws, public health and of course education (Private much better in some cases)

    Viva Chile
    Greetings from Madrid

  • Comment number 50.

    Sorry to say this but if the mine was not safe, why did the government allow the mine to be worked? Money, money, money! Okay, the Chileans have become very skillful in media technology, but is there any substance to what we have seen on television? I think that we don't know enough to pass judgement.

  • Comment number 51.

    With all this positive publicity it makes you wonder if the rescue was a huge hoax.

    I am baffled how so may people are in awe of the hole fiasco but I have been saying that if it did happen and was not a hoax then it shows how unsafe 3rd world type country it is.
    It is disgusting how they let this so called accident happen in the first place.

  • Comment number 52.

    They are just having their 15 minutes of fame.

  • Comment number 53.

    Chile has successfully rescued 33 miners which is brilliant but hardly redefining.

    Chile is a wealthy, advanced country - it can cope with disasters.

    This should be a defining moment for the UK which cannot cope with disasters. It shows what good planning can achieve.

  • Comment number 54.

    a new lease of life for the people of chile depends on the generous actions of ordinary people associated with tragic events,like earth quakes and mining disasters,flood disasters and all the things that happen in countries,neglected by western government policies.To hope for the ordinary person to lead a healthy life,without some kind of persecution would be close to a miracle.

  • Comment number 55.

    Dear markus_uk.
    What a cynical, pathetic comment.

    Could you imagine Cammeron, Clegg or worst of all Brown, donning jeans, fleece jacket and a hard hat bringing hope to a country just recovering from a major earthquake. People in chile are behind him because he is real with a real personality.
    I think that our little country would benefit from a man with a "personality".
    Not taking credit and spending the whole of the time the miners were underground trying to blame each other then blaming the guy who delivered the sandwiches.

  • Comment number 56.

    Glad they're ok, but it's time to move on.

    If they try to keep this story alive another week, they'll turn it into a joke.

  • Comment number 57.

    The plight of the 33 Chilean miners hung on the balance. The fact that the miners were saved earlier than expected has worked in President Pinera's favour. He was closely associated with the resue mission. This has added to his prestige. His state visit to the United Kingdom could not have come at a better time for him! After all this positive attention, hoopla if you like, there is necessity for calm, cool reflection. Mining is not the only activity!

  • Comment number 58.

    This is a really stupid question. What exactly does a successful rescue operation have to do with the state of a nation?

  • Comment number 59.

    Seems to me that Chile excelled on managing the media. The American drilling team were the true heroes and they had the class to vacate the spotlight when the miners started their trips to the surface.

  • Comment number 60.

    Is this a new chapter for Chile?

    Another trite HYS and another meaningless question.

  • Comment number 61.

    This has given Chile a platform to represent itself to the world.
    I do hope as the president has said it will only bring good tidings to needy...there is still much work to be done here for Chile to arrive a fully developed country.

  • Comment number 62.

    If this a chapter in Chiles history? Depends how anyone can see it, I personally believe that this miners drama got the Chileans to united and put behind them a dark chapter in their history with the Pinochet regime.

  • Comment number 63.

    Not really, it - with the help of various countries' scientists - has found a solution to a problem it should'nt have let happen in the first place. Not much to celebrate

  • Comment number 64.

    I can just see easyjet and cryanair dumping loads of lager louts on an unsuspecting Chilean tourist board. Makes your blood run cold, doesn't it?

    Alternatively, we could send a delegation from the NCB on a fact finding mission to find out how to keep financially viable mines open when the country is closing everything else to save money.

    I wonder if Maggie Thatcher will be invited meet President Pinera to talk tactics on the future of deep undermining in the UK. I bet he'd really get his rocks off on that one.

  • Comment number 65.

    Chile is fast becoming the most advanced and civilised country in South America, which means it won't be long before terrorists begin plans to attack it.

  • Comment number 66.

    Leaving aside mining, Chile could teach a few western 'developed' countries how to run their economies properly.
    Remember Gordon Brown stuck next to (former) Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. The latter was asked how Chile had ridden out the recession so well. 'Simple, we put money by in the good times so we could spend it in the bad'. Brown's face, gurning like he was chewing on a mouthful of spanners, was a picture.

  • Comment number 67.

    A defining moment for Chile or a defining moment for a media savvy Chilean president?

    Why is there so little focus on the hard questions about why the miners got trapped down there in the first place and what can be done to reduce the risk of it happening again?

  • Comment number 68.

    As pleased as I am that we are hosting the Chile visit - a country that I am more than happy that the UK should associate with - there are trade issues that could be of mutual benefit:

    Chile probably needs a large Aircraft Carrier - we can help.
    We lose the Fleet Flagship (sell it to Chile) and build 2 new small aircraft carriers, and (hopefully) some assault craft; and buy Army LandRover replacements from America.

    Chile probably needs nuclear power stations - we can not help. Countries are falling over themselves in South America to have built nuclear power stations.
    We have known we would have an *Energy Gap* for the last 20 (TWENTY) years (; we have today "Chosen The Sites!!", but we cannot build them because those that knew how to do it have retired and died. France will build, and probably own, our power & energy because the UK will not put our own money into it.

    Chile probably needs work for its miners - we can not help.
    For the last 30 (THIRTY) years we have had detailed plans (with all the Environmental Risk Analyses) to mine the Mendip limestone to build the Severn Barrage to provide the UK with *free* tidal turbine energy. This *free* energy is a 'no brainer' - **we really, really need it** - that's why it has been rejected by the UK Government. :-(

  • Comment number 69.

    53. At 2:31pm on 18 Oct 2010, KarenZ wrote:
    "Chile has successfully rescued 33 miners which is brilliant but hardly redefining."

    I'm pretty sure it was the Americans that got them out. Chile probably paid the bill, though.

  • Comment number 70.

    As a Chilean living overseas, besides being proud and grateful for the support given overseas, I would like to add that these 33 heroes legacy could be more important than that of our traditional heroes, given that what this showed is that the country can do great things when it puts its mind to it. I get the idea that this president is not afraid of challenges, and Chile's big challenge still left to pull out of the pack in Latin america is education. Good education is Chile is available....if you can afford it. These miners would not have been working in substandard conditions if their academic qualifications would have allowed the to qualify for the big mining corporations operating in Chile. If Chile reforms its education the sky would be the limit, and that is a legacy that any hero would be proud of leaving behind.
    As to Alexander's "essay", I must disagree, given the lack of in depth data that it carries, granted that inequality is a big problem but I would encourage him to look at USA numbers, and the solution to it is by improving education. Chile's economic and social statistics have improved dramatically during the las 20 years, check IMF'S , casen, world bank data. Lowest infant mortality, highest literacy and life expectancy in Latin america, and better than even many developed countries. So given this opportunity where political and partisan interest are on the low, and rotten ideologies will not be part of the decision making process, we will not have a better opportunity to become a fully developed country. And that will be the great legacy of the 33.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think the whole thing is getting blown out of proportion. This was merely an accident at work, and yes it can be scary being buried 2000 feet but coming out alive was a triumph for humanity. But to go as far as to say these guys were 'heroes' (for getting buried in a hole?!), overusing the whole 'thank god/pray to god' rubbish and now saying this is a whole new chapter for the country of Chile - surely, surely this is getting going over the top, no?

  • Comment number 72.

    Whilst I am delighted the miners were rescued I think that attributing it to God is a deep insult to the expertise, experience and hard work of the men and women who made it happen. We should be singing their praises.

  • Comment number 73.

    During the drilling I read the core samples showed a high gold and silver content previously unknown. Looks like the company will be getting it's debts payed off.

  • Comment number 74.

    I am a Chilean citizen living abroad.
    In the past 30 years, Chile embraced a conception of society in which the State played a very minor role. Even the post Pinochet leftist governments did not make crucial innovations in this regard.
    February’s earthquake / tsunami, made evident such “lack of State” as the emergency network did not perform as it should have; the agencies showed obsolesce and little reactivity to the tragedy. Needless to say that the tragedy showed a reality that even Chileans thought to be already eradicated for good: misery.
    The San José mine events reenact the subject of State absence. There were only two surveillance agents for a region almost as big as the Irish territory; security measures in Chilean’s small and medium size mining industry were proven to be poor; mining workers disregard the flaws when they see arrive a check that is larger than the region’s average.
    In past elections, a 20 year lasting centre-left coalition was asked to step down and the dictator’s “earls” were given the chance to bring a new air to the country. The promise (or bit) then was to be more efficient than its predecessors. After the earthquake and the 33 miners’ events, in addition, Chile seems to be demanding that these “lacks of State” be served in a modern and efficient way, hopefully showing a growing conviction that free market rules need to be tempered and counter parted by a savvy State.
    It is a paradox that the recent elected conservative government, whose past is in fact tightly connected to the instauration of liberal system ruling Chile in the past 30 years, be the responsible to include in its agenda the increase of presence of the State in the economy and to tackle the protection and surveillance of the weakest layer of a free market society. Will it attain the challenge?

  • Comment number 75.

    A new chapter for Chile?

    Remember today's news soon becomes tomorrows fish and chip wrapper.

  • Comment number 76.

    Such situations as we have just witnessed in Chile are rare opportunities for a country to market itself in a positive light. It's not everyday that the international media lays the red carpet for developing countries. Nigeria had the opportunity and they literally 'blew it'.

  • Comment number 77.

    Earlier this year Chile suffered a serious earthquake when many people died because the former president did not react appropriately. Pinera pulled out all the stops to rescue the miners and was personally involved to welcome them back to the surface. Many comments criticise Pinochet (who made mistakes) who rescued Chile from the prospect of turning into a Cuba (Castro recently said his economic policies were not sound) or Venezuela, and turned it into a prosperous country. Remember Pinochet was one of the few countries to held Thatcher with the Falkland conflict.
    This unpleasanr incident has brought a feeling of solidarity to the Chileans - this is something missing in Europe with the French strike as a typical example.

  • Comment number 78.

    Strike while the iron is hot, I guess. This is a great PR opportunity for Chile. But in today's 24/7 world news market, the mine rescue is already old news.

  • Comment number 79.

    I'm chilean and I think that the situation at my country is terrible. The optimism and euphoria for the miners is helping to hide all the real problems that still remain without solution (like safety conditins at work). Mr. Piñera is taking advantage of this and aslo using his power to control the mass media and the public opinion in Chile.

    Another thing that I can't understand is the "chilean pride" as a consequenceof the rescue of the miners. Everybody thinks that they are heroes, instead of victims.

  • Comment number 80.

    I can´t see what´s new about this. While all the media were focusing on the miners´ drama in the north, local natives - the mapuches - are being violently repressed in the south of the country. Celebrities and intellectuals have joined a hunger strike in solidarity with the mapuche political prisoners. Here in Santiago pharmacies have been in strike for almost two weeks because their employees are being underpaid for years. None of this is informed, simply because Piñera and his associates own the larger part of the media. He is not Nelson Mandela, make no mistake about that.
    As for this "new" solidarity foreign media rave about... that´s nothing new either. Chileans support each other because they need to. This is not a place you can afford to be individualistic, with earthquakes, dictatorships, inhuman working conditions and whatnot. Like the book, it´s no country for old men and one single succesful rescue mission will not change that.

  • Comment number 81.

    The saga of the 33 miners will help to call attention to the workers conditions in Chile. The nowadays labour laws were imposed to the population by Pinchet`s regime, and nobody could say anything. In Chile workers have minimum rights, and the companies all the rights. Companies look for profit at all costs and workers are a detail, kind of: if you don`t like it leave, if you say something, we will fire you at once. Just take a look at unions in Chile, they are a a shadow of what used to be. In Brazil people work to live, in Chile people live to work.

  • Comment number 82.

    The event create a problem for miners but after being rescued and the rescuing operations reversed the problem into a good propaganda for Chile and their president on all levels. it reflects also that this country like peace for their people and believe very much in human rights, as their president said- for them humans are their precious resources not copper. this create for them a good propaganda worldwide on all levels-from the political level, media till the field of literature and darama- and brought the name of their country on the forefront. Accordingly this might provide them with a pushing force to achieve successes in the future.

  • Comment number 83.

    He has become in the 33-minner spokesman. A real clown that is gaining a lot personal benefits with this tragedy. There are still people sheltered in tents because of the former earthquake, and mass media doesnt say anything. Did you see "sword fish" ?something like that is occurring in our country, distraction.
    Best regards from Iquique, Chile

  • Comment number 84.

    Chile is a beautiful country with loads going for it. NZ always cseems to omes out on top in most conservative Brits places to see before you die, but Chile is more than a match in scale and granduer with a beautiful pacific coast, fine wine and truly awesome scenery. torres Del Paine is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The energy of the latin culture is also a draw. Well positioned between the growth areas of Brazil, Australia and Asia Pacific the futures potentially bright for Chile...

  • Comment number 85.

    Time will tell but given the 'can-do' attitude it could be a new beginning for Chile.

    I think that every country has major issues at present. I note that there is a problem with inequality between rich and poor in Chile but in the UK we are currently suffering from a shortage of jobs... (which is likely to get worse).

  • Comment number 86.

    President Pinera has done himself and Chile somewhat of a disservice. The rescue, and extended celebration resulting from it, has become an international spectacle, capturing attention in Chile and abroad. Of course this diverts attention from the socio-economic issues that are slowly eating away at Chile, in the same manner as they are eating away at most meso and south American states. The entire region, suffering from years of following America down what was promised as being the yellow brick road to an economic oz, is slowly awakening to the tough realities that the American dream has largely perished from the horizon. The antithesis of a rapidly growing population, with its massive numbers of have nots facing off against a small but very wealthy power elite, is a scenario bent on disaster. Chile's domestic troubles, as with those of other regional nations, will rise to the forefront again, once the spectacular diversion has faded from view. The problems will come back with a new intensity exactly because of the extent of the diversion, exploiting the mine disaster while also evading its causes and the socio-economic facts following it. It was lucky that the tragedy was averted, but there is more of a story in this than Pinera wants to tell and it will eventually be told, as Chile's situation worsens along with that of its neighboring states.

  • Comment number 87.

    No it's not.

  • Comment number 88.

    Some men were trapped down a mine.

    Rescuing them changes what?

  • Comment number 89.

    Piñera has being a very lucky man since his first day as a president. We started with the earthquake and then we had the story of the 33 miners. A fantastic advertising all over the world. Giving away pieces of rock as"merchandising", it´s a joke. A fantastic oportunity to gain popularity (that he didn´t have)and divert attention from others relevant issues of Chile.
    Now, don´t forget that Chile´s main product is copper. However, nobody over this side of the earth can even imagine the working and living conditions that miners face everyday. They are extremely poor people, they have no option and no rights either.
    In Chile we have more than 33 miners, conditions need to change for them. If not, they haven´t being rescued yet.

  • Comment number 90.

    11. At 7:03pm on 17 Oct 2010, Eddy from Waring wrote:
    What's in a name? I'd hoped the era of Chilean presidents' names beginning with "Pin" was over.

    I´d hope that too and believe me, there is no difference between them, maybe just one, we have chosen this new dictator. We don´t live in a Democracy anymore. Shame on us.

  • Comment number 91.

    Give Pinera a break he was there for a lot of the time in that desert with the relatives & promised them he'd leave no stone unturned (pardon the pun)regarding the minors rescue. Not like Bush who nearly didn't turn up when Katrina struck or Obama who was late making an appearance when BP's oil fiasco happened.

    Sometimes, occasions like this give a country a lift & a renewal of themselves. All 33 + rescuers in just one day was a great let's wish that country well. & of course, I re-thank God as well for playing his part in this truly miraculous outcome.

    "Vaya con Dios", Chile.


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