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Trapped Chilean miners complain of censorship, restrictions

The trapped miners want to celebrate Chilean Independence Day in their refuge with wine and empanada...
The letters sent by relatives of some of the Chilean workers trapped underground are being retained by authorities because of concerns about psychological impact. This is causing uncertainty and upsetting the miners.
Santiago - It has been 30 days since a caved-in tunnel left 33 miners trapped inside the San José gold and copper mine near the city of Copiapó in the Chilean Atacama Desert. Coordinated efforts using at least three different routes are underway to rescue the miners from their refuge, about 700 meter underground. However, based on the most optimistic forecast, it may take at least another 6 to 8 weeks before the workers are brought to the surface.
Dealing with the prospects of conflict and depression caused by the long term exposure to darkness and isolation has been an important component of the rescue strategy. A four-member team of NASA experts visited the site of the accident and provided advice based on NASA's long experience in training and planning for emergencies in spaceflights and the protection of humans in hostile environments.
Until last week the miners and relatives in the surface had been able to exchange written messages sent through a bore hole connecting with the worker’s refuge. On Saturday, rescue communications technicians managed to establish voice and video contact with the miners so each of the 33 could speak with three relatives for about a minute. One of the miners, Víctor Zamora, complained to his family that he had received only one letter in a week. He was afraid that his relatives were hiding something. "We have sent at least 15 letters," said his wife, Jessica Cortés. "I write daily, also his mother and brothers had sent letters."
Letters are screened
According to Cortés, there is a team of “young ladies described as psychologists who read our letters and put them in a bag, and we do not know what do they do with them.” Apparently, they read and hold some of them because they want to avoid the miners who have several women being troubled by the conflicts of their women.
Cortes believes that about 22 of the 33 families are facing the this letter challenge. At times the family camp in the San José mine resembles a literary workshop. There is always someone either reading or writing a letter. Alberto Iturra, the coordinator of a team of psychologists, acknowledged on Sunday that there had been "organizational problems" in the transmission of letters: "At first, things worked well because we only had 33 letters, then we had 80, but when it reached hundreds, it began to take space that we can use to send down food and water. We must keep in mind that this is a rescue operation, not a
A favourite Chilean wine to celebrate the bicentennial of Chile s independence from Spain.
A favourite Chilean wine to celebrate the bicentennial of Chile's independence from Spain.
MeganMorris
communications exercise."
said Iturra.
Alcohol and tobacco are not allowed
With the bicentennial celebration of Chilean Independence day coming in a couple of weeks, the miners had requested, and the psychologists had considered, the possibility of sending the miners wine and empanadas (a pastry filled with beef, onions, raisins, black olives, hard boiled eggs and hot peppers). This traditional celebratory menu, along with cigarettes, has been turned down. Head psychologist Iturra, with the support of heath officials, rejected the idea by saying: "This is an emergency; we're not celebrating. The Chilean mining industry has 600 years of tradition and drinking inside the mine is not allowed.”
Chilean empanadas can have a wide range of fillings; they may be baked  usually filled with  pino  (...
Chilean empanadas can have a wide range of fillings; they may be baked, usually filled with "pino" (similar to mincemeat), or deep fried, filled with seafood or cheese. Wine is a good drink to go with empanadas.
Stu_spivack
Instead of wine and the festive empanadas, the miners, will “celebrate” with high protein, high-calorie food delivered in narrow plastic tubes through a thin shaft. As far as cigarettes, since they have been deemed harmful in such an enclosed environment, they have been replaced by patches and nicotine gum to help them cope with withdrawal symptoms.

3 comments

#1Sep 6, 2010 Gemma Fox
There's still the possibility that this could all go wrong and I'm sure those thoughts go through the minds of the miners and their families at least once a day. To deprive them of letters sent by loved ones is not right. It's possible that the authorities could ask families to limit what they write each day but the miners should not be stopped from receiving this important contact.
As for the wine and empanadas, I don't see why, because they're trapped down a mine, that they should not be allowed to celebrate Chilean Independence. One day off from eating the high-cal food won't do them any harm. Is it not more depressing for the miners to know the rest of the country is celebrating independence while they are confined? It seems that it would be more of a boost for them to celebrate along with the rest of the country (who will no doubt spare them a lot of thought) eating the food they traditionally would.
Another good report Igor, thanks for keeping us updated.
#2Sep 7, 2010 David Silverberg
Interesting they are being delivered nic patches. I say they go cold turkey, imagine how great it would be to be rid of the smoking addiction after this ordeal?! They should celebrate life once they recover it by trying to elongate their time on Earth.
#3Sep 7, 2010 Igor I. Solar
@David Silverberg
Interesting they are being delivered nic patches. I say they go cold turkey, imagine how great it would be to be rid of the smoking addiction after this ordeal?! They should celebrate life once they recover it by trying to elongate their time on Earth.
I understand that the reason for delivering nicotine patches to the miners is to minimize or eliminate one of the causes for tension and stress. Being a non smoker, I would also think that it would be a good opportunity to "go cold turkey". In my view, there is more justification on delivering the empanadas and the wine. But they also have reasons to restrict that. The empanadas, because it may upset their digestion and the wine because, in case several of them do not drink the wine, a few may end up drinking more than their allocation, also causing a big problem.

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