Fuerza Mineros

Fuerza Mineros, (the Twitter hashtag #fuerzamineros), a wish of strength to the miners, these two words I typed dozens of times yesterday as I watched the rescue unfold in Chile.

I tweeted some of the rescues as they happened, and once I started, I found that I had to stay there for the very last one.

Part of the intrigue for me was pride in watching the true international effort at play – seeing how we are capable of such greatness when we work together. This rescue in Chile could not have happened without the help of the United States, and dozens of other countries. It’s a lesson in cooperation and humbleness, in allowing others to help when you can’t do something on your own. It’s a lesson on strength in numbers – just as the Chilean miners pooled their talents to survive below ground, the world pooled their talents above ground to save them. We are all unique individuals with unique abilities, which we should use to help others.

The second reason I watched, was for the pure happiness it gave me. The rescue allowed us to forget our own problems, like any other distraction. I think for a lot of people, it was a much needed respite from the usual depressing political and economic news. Maybe watching the families reunite gave us a moment to recharge and recalibrate – to realize just what is important in this world.

When these kind of amazing stories happen, it’s inevitable that the characters in the story will be granted a sort of legendary status, becoming unforgettable to an entire generation. The Chilean miners have been described almost as saints, called heroes, been ascribed attributes such as “resilient”, but I’m going to take an unpopular stance … As horrific as their ordeal was and as intelligent and strong as they were to survive, they are not saints or heroes, and they are no more resilient than most other human beings who find themselves in a situation where they must fight for their lives.

The Chilean miners are men – and flawed men, just like the rest of us. Perhaps none has exemplified that as publicly as Yonni Barrios – the miner who had both a wife and mistress show up to the site calling his name, (and word has it, he isn’t the only one who had multiple women claim him.)

But the truth is, all of the miners have skeletons in their closets, just like the rest of us – and I’d be willing to bet that the contract they signed with each other in the mine was that they’d never tell a soul about the things they must have confessed to each other during the days when they thought they might not make it out.

And while the miners have captured the world’s attention, there are human beings who never get to tell their stories, who are never praised for their survival, who are suffering in all kinds of situations every day all over the world; from starvation, poverty, illness, separation from family or homeland, to loneliness, unjust incarceration, abuse, slavery, and mourning. It is the human condition, and those of us who are not touched by the worst of this kind of suffering are the lucky minority.

It may seem I’m being cynical – on the contrary! This should give you hope! What I’m saying is that, like the miners, though we are not saints, we all have hidden reserves of strength, we all have the ability to pull through difficult times. We all have the capacity for faith in something greater than us no matter how “religious” we consider ourselves. We all have the ability to be reborn in this world, to change our ways. Each day that you wake up and feel the sunshine upon your face, it is another chance to try again.

(Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world…Strive to be happy.”-Desiderata/ Max Ehrmann


  1. Like you I am amazed and awed by how this situation happened and how it has such a happy ending, positively out of a Disney fairy tale (minus the mistresses, lol)

    But really- yes- I dont doubt that most of us in that situation would do the same thing, persevere- hold out hope- its our instinct, our most basic one. While they are not heroes (I think like a commenter on another site I read said the heroes are those that rescued them) they are us and because we can connect ourselves to that, I think the legendary status grows. . .

  2. I have actually be thinking the same thing. Hopefully other people’s high/saintly expectations of them at this point do not cause them to fall, or feel like failures in the mid-to-long-term. I can’t imagine what the road to “normalcy” will be like. Hopefully many of the men will lead the lives they promised to God while they were down there if they ever got out. What an inspirational story though…

    • Melanie – I agree that psychologically and emotionally speaking, it would be best for these men not to be held so highly that they feel ashamed when they inevitably stumble and fall short. It’s difficult to live up to high expectations and impossible to live up to perfection.

      I also hope that in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, that they are able to take something positive away from the experience and go on to live good lives.

  3. I LOVE this post. I wish I had been able to watch, but only finding out facts via twitter or Google news. I loved how everyone was involved in some way. I also hope the miners are aware of how they’ve touched everyone’s lives and proved that there’s still hope, that faith isn’t just a word and when united, we can accomplish so much.

    Great post, Sra! :)

  4. Don’t have a TV by choice and usually don’t miss it…but I wish I could have shared in the camaraderie of this historic, international, and truly miraculous event. When I first heard the miners were trapped, I thought there was little hope. How wonderful to be wrong! Enjoyed reading your tweets about their rescue.

    This is my first time here, but I’ll be back. That you blog in Spanglish, which I think of as my “native tongue” is GREAT!

    • @ Robin – Events like this are usually streamed live on the internet if you look around, (just so you know in the future.) … I’m glad my tweets were there for you to read though.

      Thanks for your comment y mucho gusto. Always nice to meet another Spanglish speaker ;)

  5. My dear friend: It’s kind of romantic thinking that international help was just for humanitarian reasons. That help you mention was very EXPENSIVE for Chile.
    I know, I agree when you say that they’re not heroes. In my blog I posted once about the meaning of “heroe”, check out the answers: http://buscandounasalida.wordpress.com/2008/06/18/%C2%BFque-es-un-heroe/
    Unbelievable!! What’s wrong with people’s ideas? Why it’s so difficult to define? Maybe because we don’t actually have any heroes, don’t you think?
    Great writing!! Congrats!

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