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Half of the miners involved with the accident at the San Jose mine are still unemployed, one year later. Those who have jobs are only part-time as mechanics, odd-job men or greengrocers. When the miners were trapped underground in Chile, great things were predicted for them. They thought nothing would be the same in their lives.
They would be rich; cinema producers would make films about them and journalists would pay fortunes for their stories. Therefore, they thought they would never have to work again. Jean Romagnoli was the miners’ physical trainer while they were below ground. He helped them to stay in shape so they could fit into the capsule used for their rescue.
“The promises that were made to them when they reached the surface, like for example that they were going to all have a job in the national mining industry; they’ve all vanished,” Romagnoli said. The reality has been quite different. Some of them are dealing with the psychological impact of what they went through.
Only a couple of the 33 men trapped for two months at San Jose have ventured back down the mines. Raul Bustos, a miner who works as a guest speaker for a telephone company said, “I’ve dealt with those problems, but there are two or three of the miners who still have problems. They haven’t been able to get over it, and they’re still on sick leave.”
He believes every miner deals with psychological impacts in their own different ways. Last July, 31 of 33 men launched legal action against the Chilean state, accusing them of failing to do their job properly by allowing the San Jose mine to remain open in the year before the accident. They are claiming a compensation of $500,000 per man.
Meanwhile, the state is claiming the mine owners’ money back for the millions of dollars spent on the miners’ rescue. Jean Romagnoli said to BBC News that any mining company is avoiding giving them jobs because they think of them as damaged goods. “They think they’re psychologically unbalanced still, and there’s a risk in contracting them,” he said.Despite their recent frustrations, there is still some hope that they are going to become rich men very soon.
Mike Medavov, the Hollywood producer who grew up in Chile has bought the rights to make a movie about the miners. He seems to have affinity with the accident. Jose Rivera has been hired to write the script. He wrote the screenplay for the Che Gevara film. As well,Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Hector Tobar is working on a book about the miners.
The book will be based on the diary that Victor Segovia, a miner among the 33 kept writing below ground. The profits from the sales will be split between the miners.