Future holds parties, weddings, holidays and TV for miners (Feature)
By Mauricio Weibel Oct 13, 2010, 17:19 GMT
Copiapo, Chile - The miners who have spent nearly 70 days trapped some 700 metres underground in northern Chile started to get their lives back Wednesday.
And their ordeal left them with a feeling that there is no time to waste: the immediate future holds weddings, holidays, parties and television appearances as they work to forget the darkness of the mine.
'They squared off with death, they were born again and they are going to be very happy,' said psychologist Alberto Iturra, who has talked to the trapped miners and their families everyday in recent weeks.
'They are going to come out very different men,' Iturra explained.
Miners Esteban Rojas and Claudio Yanez proposed marriage to their partners, who are also mothers of their children, from the depths of the mine.
The youngest of the trapped miners, Jimmy Sanchez, 19, and the father of a four-month-old girl, also proposed to the baby's mother. But before the wedding, he has other things to keep him busy: around 500 of his neighbours are preparing a big party for their local hero.
'I have suffered a lot and I don't want to suffer anymore,' Sanchez said in his last letter from the mine.
Others are just planning a holiday. Miner Juan Illanes described the trip up in the rescue capsule as 'a cruise,' but many of the workers who were trapped for weeks want real vacations as they seek to get over their plight.
Iturra said he helped the miners make contact with holiday accommodation operators so they can be alone with their families in peace.
After the global media hype over their rescue, journalists will continue to seek them out for their stories. This will doubtless be particularly the case with Mario Sepulveda, who presented the videos made by the miners underground and who provided a generous show even as he was lifted up to the surface.
However, Sepulveda himself asked for patience.
'Please do not treat us like artists, like journalists. I want to keep being treated like Mario Sepulveda, like the miner worker,' he said.
For others, the rescue will provide a chance for greater privacy, after so many weeks under the limelight. The miners' shift boss Luis Urzua, who was in charge of enforcing discipline and solidarity among the trapped miners, never wanted to talk to the media, and neither did his family on the surface.
Bolivian President Evo Morales travelled to the mine with an offer of a job and a home for his compatriot Carlos Mamani, the only non- Chilean among the 33 trapped miners, in case he wants to return to his native country.
'He is our brother and we have to guarantee him a job,' Morales said.
Beyond the excitement of the rescue, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera made it clear that the San Jose mine will no longer operate, at least not for a long time, until it can prove it can provide safety for its miners. The trapped miners will be out of a job, and they are reportedly be planning a class action suit against the mine's owner, a firm that has filed for bankruptcy.
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