The proffered gifts and freebies for Chile’s 33 rescued miners keep coming, with Israel offering the miners and their families a Christmas trip to the Holy Land, flights, lodging, food and excursions included. Four of the miners appeared this week on a Spanish television talk show, while Edison Pena, an Elvis fan and dedicated runner who forced himself to jog in a tunnel while awaiting rescue, has been invited to Graceland and to take part in the New York Marathon. A jubilant Sebastian Pinera toured Europe this past week, presenting Britain’s David Cameron and the Queen with rocks from the San Jose mine. He visited a primary school where he gave the head teacher a T-shirt with an image of the famous note the miners sent to rescuers, and received 33 kitchen towels for each of the miners. In Germany Angela Merkel gave him a German soccer team jersey autographed by a player who happens to have the same name as one of the miners and whose number is…33.
There was a slight public relations hiccup during the trip, when Pinera is speaking to British reporters about the rescue. He mentions the note, and his wife murmurs to him in Spanish that he should not pull it out yet again (“No lo muestres”). The incident was widely reported in the Chilean media, with video links. http://www.emol.com/noticias/nacional/detalle/detallenoticias.asp?idnoticia=442749.
Back home, what kind of support are the miners receiving? Not enough, according to their lawyer, who has questioned their rapid discharge from the hospital in Copiapo just a few days after their rescue. The athletic Edison Pena was readmitted, suffering from signs of severe depression. The physician who headed the medical team treating the miners told El Mercurio that the men were still quite fragile, and that the frenzy of celebrations and parties, mixed with heavy alcohol consumption, was not helping matters. Lawyer Edgardo Reinoso said the miners had begun legal action against the San Esteban mining company, which owns the San Jose mine, as well as the officials who allowed the mine to continue operating under dangerous conditions. His clients, he said, were “modest working men who are not trying to become millionaires” and who just want to see justice done.