The Forgotten Miners

Posted: October 13, 2011 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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It’s important till it’s not.

Remember those miners that were trapped in that country like a year ago? If  your answer is something along the line of “vaguely,” “kind of,” or “not really,” you’re (unfortunately) not alone. As it happens with most crises around the world—Haiti, Thailand, and all those other countries you heard about for all of five minutes in media time—the 33 miners who were trapped underground for 69 days in Copiapó, Chile, have faded into a distant memory.

Most people have all but forgotten about them, and the media has moved on many times over; but it’s still a fresh reality for the miners and their families. Many of these miners are perfect examples of what happens when individuals are shoved into the spotlight for their 15 minutes of fame, only to be forgotten once the next big thing happens. Sad, but true.

The New York Times ran an article on Oct. 12, describing the current situations of some of the miners a year later. Many miners still suffer from post-traumatic stress, seeing a psychiatrist or therapist regularly. Some of the miners complain that because they cannot return to the mines—whether for health-related or liability reasons—the state of their lives is even worse than before the accident.

It’s hard to judge the situation from an outsider’s perspective, but the arguments for and against the miners’ complaints of the lack of aid they now receive both seem understandable. For the miners, it’s apparent how hard it would be to combine being thrust in and out of the international spotlight, with the trauma they experienced. However, if the claims of some people who have helped them previously are true regarding the miners only complaining and not taking action to help themselves, then that’s not a positive reflection on them either. No one wants to help anyone who’s not trying to help themselves first. Again, it’s hard to say from an outsider’s perspective.

-Erin Elzo

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