Chile: 33 miners rescued

But what is hidden behind the festivities?

The government of Sebastián Piñera made a spectacular show out of the rescue of the 33 miners trapped in the mine of San Jose in Chile. This was a show that had, as its primary objective, to obscure the real reasons for the grotesque imprisonment of 33 human beings below the ground for more than 2 months: the criminally precarious conditions which millions of Chilean workers are forced to endure.

In 2009 alone, 191,685 workplace accidents were recorded, in which 443 workers died. Even while the rescue of the 33 was being celebrated, another miner was killed in the Botón de Oro de Petorca mine. In the first trimester of this year alone, 155

workers have been killed due to the avarice of bosses.

These deaths were due to the lack of security measures. When workers have demanded this basic security at work, or questioned the lack of these measures, they have almost invariably been sacked for stepping out of line.

President poses with famous miners’ note

The government left nothing to chance – the “show” must be perfect!

Piñera put Reinaldo Sepúlveda in charge of its “marketing” of the miner’s release. It was he who wrote the government’s audacious script for its televised spectacle. The rescue was televised, like all grand events, through an official TV channel. In this way, they could make sure that nothing could endanger their plans: they could cut and edit as they pleased, and prepare the “informal” dialogue of the President and Ministers. Thus, it was possible, through collaboration with the millionaire-owned media, to cover up, in true class solidarity, for the government and big business, the forces co-responsible for the crimes of the San José mine’s bosses.

After the impeccable televised spectacle of the miners’ rescue, Chile was presented to the world as a country in which all is well, and with the determination to accomplish its objectives; seemingly a grand success for the government’s planned “marketing” campaign.

The false heroes of La Moneda

La Moneda (government palace), continues to release hyperactive accounts of their “heroic” deeds, and are currently discussing how to use the newly won political capital of the Mining Minister, Laurence Golborne, who has been raised up onto a pedestal following the rescue by the La Moneda communications team. He is now being put forward by many as the best candidate to represent the right-wing in the next Presidential elections.

It would serve well to remember that it was this very same ministry which, in the first days after the miners were trapped, suggested that it did not see much point in continuing with rescue efforts, saying that there was not much chance of finding them alive. It was only after the powerful response of the miners and the ensuing public clamour that the ministry’s plans were changed. In their original plans, the possibility of leaving the miners to die was seriously considered. One must only re-read the press from these days to see that this is true.

Criminals always desire to cover up their crimes

The Chilean right wing has spent years trying to obscure the crimes and atrocities of the Pinochet dictatorship, which the present right-wing establishment took part in, covering up accomplices to torture and assassination, are now sitting in La Moneda itself, including the current President.

Sebastián Piñera now has the illusion that henceforth, he will be remembered for the rescue of the miners, and not for his role in the dictatorship. This is always what criminals want – that their crimes will be forgotten and that they can become “respectable”, “democratic” citizens.

But it is worth remembering that despite this desire, the deeds of the Pinochet dictatorship were so horrific that they cannot be forgotten so easily. Theorists of communication hold that there are stories “with legs”, which can continue to dominate, and others which do not. Therefore, the government must take advantage of its 15 minutes of fame, as it will inevitably end at a certain stage and they will have to return to reality.

Pinera (left) – the "Chilean Sarkozy"?

Sebastián Piñera flees for Europe

The triumphant visit of the President to Europe was more and more pathetic at every stage, almost to the extent of provoking national shame. But it is necessary to remember that was being received by people of his own ilk, such as UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, who is pushing cuts of up to 25%, plans to sack 500,000 public sector workers and facilitate a further avalanche of jobs losses in the private sector – in short, a worse austerity programme then that implemented by the hated Thatcher government in the 1980s, to which a massive response from the British working class is inevitable.

He was next received by his friend Sarkozy in France, against whose anti-worker policies, we are seeing the heroic resistance of worker and youth, millions of whom have consistently poured into the streets. Piñera was recently declared the “Sarkozy of Latin America, a representative of the “modern right”, with high support. But we have seen how short the good times lasted for Sarkozy. Maybe Piñera is now witnessing in France, that which lies around the corner for his regime in Chile. This Hill be the task of the Chilean working class, which is currently having the wool pulled over its eyes, aided by the government’s manipulation of the rescue of the 33.

4 decades of abuses, much to account for

To end workplace deaths, it is essential that work safety regulation is in the hands of the workers. For this, it is necessary to strengthen the trade union organisations, so that they can again take on the active role which they played before the period of the dictatorship. It also remains necessary to break with the “plan laboral” which the dictatorship implemented through blood and repression, and was the brainchild of José Piñera, the current President’s brother.

Those really responsible for the suffering of the 33 miners and those workers who continue to suffer exploitative and unsafe conditions every day, are the same capitalists who sit in government. But it would be illusory to expect a solution in favour of working people from a bosses’ government, who are only concerned with maximising profits, and care little for the cost, in terms of the lives of workers. We have been through almost 4 decades of an onslaught against the working class, which began with the bloodbath of 11 September 1973. But now the time is arriving where we must begin to settle the score for the last 37 years of abuse by bosses and governments.

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November 2010