Chile miners rescue: What we must not forget
As we celebrate the amazing escape of "Los 33," we must not lose sight of what led to their being trapped in the first place, says The Guardian's Claire Provost
It's a triumphant day for Chile and everyone else as the 33 trapped miners are pulled to safety. But, says Claire Provost at The Guardian's "Poverty Matters" blog, the coverage of the miners' plight has "overlooked" some of the serious systemic questions raised by the accident: For instance, as Chile has become a middle-income country, why haven't workplace safety regulations kept pace? How could a mine widely known to be dangerous — the owners paid higher wages in tacit acknowledgement of that fact — remain open? And why haven't Chile's poor shared more in the nation's recent good fortunes? Here, an excerpt:
As we celebrate the safe and successful return of "Los 33," let's also take a moment to consider some of the commentary on the safety of Chile's mines, labour rights and the potential dangers of an export-oriented development strategy. These are important considerations which have become buried in the avalanche of news about extramarital affairs and lucrative movie deals...
Several commentators – including international trade unions – have pointed to Chile's failure to ratify International Labor Organization conventions on safety and health in mines, and drawn attention to the consequences of inadequate workplace safety standards across the country. According to the Inter Press Service, in 2009 alone Chile had a total of 191,685 workplace accidents, including 443 deaths.