Chile, the Miners, and Mexico`s Mine Tragedy

The recent rescue of 33 miners in Chile was an inspiring story and it seemed to interest many people. It`s said that a billion viewers worldwide watched the final rescue on October 13th. My students had been following the situation since August, and we`d watch videos of the miners from time to time. Chile is an interesting country. Economically it`s one of the most successful countries in Latin America. According to its Wikipedia entry,

“[Chile] leads Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, quality of life, political stability, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, low perception of corruption and comparatively low poverty rates.”

This past February, Chile suffered a huge earthquake which killed at least 500 people. The country was able to deal with it much better than Haiti’s, however, which is why you don’t hear as much about it. The Chilean president, Sebastian Pinera, is a billionaire, one of Chile`s richest men, and showed great leadership in the mine rescue operation. Pinera’s ancestors came from northern Spain . On his father`s side he`s Asturian and on his mother`s side he`s Basque. (My wife Lilia also has Basque and Asturian ancestry). The region in which the miners were trapped is the Atacama in northern Chile. It’s the world’s driest region. Mining is very important in Chile, which produces one third of the world’s copper. On average, about 34 miners die a year in the country. But then, mining is a dangerous operation. This past April in West Virginia, 29 miners died in an explosion, and about 12,000 mine workers die worldwide each year. In Mexico, the Chile mine rescue brought back memories of the tragic Pasta de Conchos mine disaster four years ago.

In my latest Mexidata column, I wrote an article about this, which you can read here:As Chile Rescues its Miners, Mexico Recalls its Tragedy .