Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chilean Miners--A Global Opportunity to Unite?

One amazing thing about the brave Chilean miners rescue drama was that if you turned on US TV last night and this morning you would see uninterrupted coverage of one miner after another emerging sunglassed  from their hellish underground location to be greeted by his overjoyed family. For the US to give up “regularly scheduled programming” for anything let alone a foreign mine disaster for such an extended period is highly unusual and worthy of some comment. When we taken into account that a 1,000 strong press corps is situated at the mine representing over 30 countries we seem to have approached a McLuhanesque global village moment. .The last time something like this happened was possibly the Moon landing. What made this event so important not just for a headline or two but for continuous TV coverage? The human story of course which transcends borders–there was no thought of rescue of anyone for 17 days before the famous note was found written in Spanish in red ink, it read simply: "The 33 of us are fine in the shelter."

But there was also another story to be told about the international cooperation that went into the rescue as the LA Times reports:

“Twenty private mining companies from around the world — usually rivals — coordinated efforts to penetrate the rock, loaning equipment and personnel; the state-run mining company fashioned a telephone system through a second probe hole. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration sent a team to Chile to share expertise about the psychological and physical toll of living in cramped quarters, and when the miners exercise — to be rescued, they must fit into a capsule called the Phoenix, whose diameter is less than two feet — they wear gear that is standard for astronauts and which monitors their heart, lung and other functions. When they are finally brought out into the light they will wear special sunglasses provided by Oakley, based in Orange County..”

We also learn that “long-time enemies Bolivia and Chile are cooperating to support Bolivian miner Carlos Mamani, 23, and Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales is expected to greet the newly freed miners along with Chile's conservative President Sebastian PiƱera..”

It is also reported that “work crews have raised the flags of Canada, the US, and Argentina, among others. Palestinian ambassador Mai Al Kaila visited the site, adding her flag to the collection.”

So let peace light and global cooperation spread ! Perhaps this incident will lead to globally recognized standards concerning mine maintenance and worker safety so that future incidents (most sadly the recent tragedy in  West Virginia) can be avoided.


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