Last month I went to see the movie “The 33” based on the book by Hector Tobar called Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free. One billion people watched in October of 2010 as these men were rescued from a collapsed mine. If you don’t know the full story, I urge you to go here and read it. The short of it is that there were 33 miners in Chile rescued sixty-nine days after the mine they worked collapsed when the privately-owned mining company ignored warnings that the mine was giving way from the foreman who also ended up trapped.
This post is not going to be a review of that movie, but a review of the last two sentences of the movie.
- The company that owned the mine, San Esteban Primera was found not guilty of criminal activity.
- The 33 men were never compensated.
The Number One Problem
I understand that these 33 men knew that there were risks. I am fully aware that when you are a miner you know that there is every chance that you could die every single day. I understand that when I’m commuting to my cushy office desk in a big beautiful building on the Hudson River and working on my own business, these men are risking their lives. I get this is one of those times where people will think I’m a young privileged now-it-all yuppie who drinks Starbucks, goes to brunch on the weekends and is a Pinterest addict and what the hell do I know about what it is to risk my life for a buck?
So, I don’t. I have no idea. The closest I’ve come is by being so affected by this story, I had dreams the night after of being trapped in a mine. I had trouble falling asleep and forgetting I was in my bedroom. These are the same dreams that many of these men have to this day. A number of them wake up in cold sweats forgetting they are at home, safe and warm.
Even though I didn’t experience their ordeal first-hand, I do understand that these men are human beings. They have lives filled with loved ones, families, children and incredible stories apart from the one the entire world knows about. So, to me I should be pissed. We should all be pissed that these men have not been treated like human beings. The only reason they are alive is because they fought their asses off to live and their loved ones refused to let anyone give up on them. The San Esteban Primera has nothing to do with their survival. They have everything to do with the fact that they almost died and their job was to make sure that if anything happened, these men had a way out. They didn’t. This is why 12,000 miners die per year. How much do you want to bet me that this number would be significantly less if all mines were kept accountable? These men struggle for jobs at other mines because mining companies are afraid they will keep them accountable. Has there ever been a worse reason for not hiring a person? You won’t hire them because they might keep you accountable so that you don’t kill anyone?
Filming the Underground
While I’ve been working on this blog post, I’ve come to learn that the miners have again been cheated. They were to receive royalties from the movie which was a condition of the move being made. Let me preface what I am about to say by stating that the movie didn’t do well financially. So, the movie studio lost money, but the miners are suing their lawyers because they were mislead about the percentage they would receive from the films earnings.
These men have been through atrocities I can only imagine. But for reasons of greed by others around them, they have never received compensation for the wrongs done them. There is a petition asking the film companies to support these men in their efforts to receive rightful compensation. I have signed it and I ask that if you believe in justice for these men who have been done wrong many many times, please join me here.
“Stand with our brothers as they fight against tyranny” – Thomas Jefferson “Hamilton: An American Musical”
To the Revolution!