Photo: Trapped Chilean miners
The shift leader for a group of 33 men trapped for nearly 70 days in 2010 inside a mine in northern Chile said Friday the workers would file a complaint with the International Labor Organization after prosecutors in the Andean nation declined to charge anyone in the cave-in.
At the close of its three-year investigation, the prosecutor’s office in the Atacama region said Thursday it would not bring charges against the owners of the San Jose copper-gold mine or the regional heads of the National Geology and Mining Service.
“If the legal system worked as it should, they (the mine’s owners) would be in jail,” Luis Urzua told CNN Chile.
Other members of “Los 33” also voiced their displeasure with the decision: “I feel frustration, sadness. I started crying in the morning,” Mario Sepulveda, the group’s most outspoken member told Cooperativa radio, saying that “out of respect for my comrades I won’t set myself on fire outside La Moneda (the Chilean presidential palace).”
The cave-in occurred on Aug. 5, 2010, and attracted global attention when the 33 miners were discovered alive 17 days later.
An elaborate operation ensued that culminated on Oct. 12-13 of that year with the trapped men being lifted one by one out of the mine over a period of 25 hours, an event broadcast around the world.
The miners were brought to the surface in a Chilean navy-built capsule that was built for that purpose and lowered and raised through a specially drilled escape shaft measuring 50 centimeters (just under 20 inches) in diameter.
Other smaller boreholes were drilled and used to provide the trapped miners food, clothing and communications gear.
On Friday, Sepulveda criticized the impunity granted to mine owners Alejandro Bohn and Marcelo Kemmeny, saying they are “out walking free and happy even after leaving us buried.”
Several media outlets noted that President Sebastian Piñera had pledged that those found responsible for the mine accident would not go unpunished.