It’s been almost a week since the 33 miners trapped for 70 days in the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Northern Chile, were rescued. While the whole world watched the miraculous rescue, choreographed and controlled by the Chilean government, led by right-wing billionaire President Sebastián Piñera, now the world outside Chile continues their gaze on the miners, with an emphasis on their personal lives, poking for information on what films will be made, what books will be written, are they having nightmares, where did they use the bathroom, if they wanted to eat each other and which miner’s infidelities were exposed.
Also we see the miner’s experience, the result of weak government enforcement of safety standards and the failure of the company that owned the San Jose mine, San Esteban, to invest in worker safety, being commodified. The Phoenix 2, the capsule that brought rescue workers down and the trapped miners up, has already been slapped with a value, just in case it’s sold and every rescued miner has been given an iPod.
What isn’t be respected is the space needed to the miners to heal from this trauma. Their families also need to heal. And all this focus on the personal also lets the company that ran the San Jose Mine off the hook, the Chilean government off the hook, and fails to look critically at the dangers facing all laborers in Chile, Latin America, and globally.