Chilean miners free at last

Oct 13, 2010, 9:11 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:48 pm

Listen to Dave Ross commentary:

Rescue crews chant as Chilean miners ride their one-man elevator 200 stories to the surface.

It would be easy to think that these are the 33 luckiest men in the world. But it wasn’t just luck.

They had several things going for them — number one: they were prepared — there was a rescue room with food so they had a fighting chance.

Number two — they were in a familiar environment… ULTIMATELY they were miners in a mine. IT’S WHAT THEY DID FOR A LIVING. So they didn’t freak out.

Number three – they had leadership, both below the ground and above the ground.

Not everybody was so sure at the beginning the rescue was a good idea… Chile’s president Pinera was warned not to raise hopes that they’d survived. But he went all in. He disregarded any political risk. He ordered workers to drill that first borehole ASAP. And when the miners sent up those notes that they were alive, the President let the money flow. And a rescue that was originally gong to take four months took two.

What happens to the miners now? — well, they’ll go in 33 different directions. They are not only free from the mine, they are free to do anything. They’ve been promised stipends for life.

Some of them will be able to handle it, some won’t — but wherever they end up… we’ve seen again what can happen when leaders are willing to take risks, and when an entire country lays aside its differences to pull together. As one of the miners wrote to his girlfriend

“I want to be free. I want to see the sun.”

And maybe that spirit isn’t limited to mining disasters. I see a report that Chile’s unemployment rate, which opened the year at 9.7 percent, is now down to 8.3.

Ross and Burbank

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Chilean miners free at last