After the rescue, Chilean miners buried under nationalism

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Our comrades from the Grupo de Lucha Proletaria (Peru) have sent us this article, which is a very clear, simple and vibrant denunciation of the way Piñera and the Chilean bourgeoisie have made maximum use of the rescue of the Chilean miners to wage a whole campaign of nationalism.  

It is the same in the all the mines in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and in every mine in the world[1]. Miners are always faced with the most terrible working conditions, along with illness and accidents. The mine operators are all the same, because terrible working conditions translate into less running costs and thus increased profits. Miners are condemned to breathing dust in these hell holes and are always faced with the threat of being engulfed by the earth.

This is what happened in the San José mine, in Copiapó, 850 kilometers North of Sanitago, Chile, when 33 miners were trapped for more than two months in a deep tunnel.

A great media show

In no time at all the media (press, radio, TV, internet...) had informed every corner of the earth about this event. It filled the media for almost 24hours a day. 33 miners buried alive in a mine, scenes of silent death. The heroes to the rescue of those who were entombed were: the Chilean state lead by Piñera and the mining company San Esteban Primera.

The aim of the whole thing was obvious from the beginning: to show that the state and the company were with the workers in their worst moments and were worried about them.

Hiding the terrible working conditions

But it was not enough just to show “solidarity” with the miners. The state along with the mining company quickly sought international help (NASA and other specialists) in order to hide the deplorably insecure conditions in which the workers of the San Jose mine had to work.

The miners had already raised the deplorable lack of safety at the mine. In July they asked the Minister Laurence Golborne[2]to close down the San Jóse site. There have been repeated complainants about the company’s accident record. The Minister of Mines responding by saying that the mine created work” [3]

The complicity of the state and the mining company

It was impossible for the state to hide the responsibility of the management. Therefore the state and the Ministry of Mines had to present themselves as heroes of the working class in this tragic situation, which is the kind of thing faced every day by the miners of Chile and the whole world.

The bourgeoisie’s fear of widespread discontent

Piñera understood that these events are commonplace for miners, and he knows that the best way to deal with this is to show concern for the suffering of the miners and their families. He had to do this quickly because he knew that the indignation of the miners’ families and the surrounding miners was going to grow, and that there was a possibility that this solidarity would spread within the working class, creating the possibility of an uprising. The state was fully aware of the militancy of the miners and feared it.

A massive nationalist and triumphalist campaign

We have been living through a massive campaign of nationalist propaganda with a disgusting whiff of paternalism and triumphalism around the effort to rescue the miners in Chile. The State, with Piñera in the forefront, has created a climate of nationalist festivities around the miners rescue, we have been shown that the state and the bourgeoisie have the same interests as the workers, that Chile is with them and they are presented as Chilean citizens above all else.

Nationalism hides the deception and exploitation of the working class. We have seen workers singing the national anthem in squares and streets, kissing the flag along with their brothers: exploited and exploiters. Workers have fallen into a bourgeois trap and the nationalism spewed forth by the exploiting class: “Long Live Chile”, “Proud to be Chilean”, “The great Chilean Family” “thanks to the whole of Chile”. All of these are expressions of nationalist poison, a poison that directly attacks, workers’ class consciousness, dragging them off the terrain of class demands and struggles.

The proletariat in Chile and the rest of the world must understand that nationalism leads to a dead-end, by dividing the proletariat by country, and that it ends up in world-wide massacres. Capitalism’s only interest is to maintain divisions and conflicts between workers. What are the differences between miners in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia or Mexico..? None. However they have many things in common. They all suffer the same inhuman working conditions, in each tunnel and mine. They also have the same common denominator: they are part of the same social class and therefore have the same interests to defend. When workers support the fatherland and the state, they are reinforcing the chains of exploitation and slavery. The proletariat has to draw the lessons that it cannot lose its class perspective. Faced with patriotic hymns, colored rags, gifts and bribes, they must affirm that all these efforts by the bourgeoisie and state are nothing more than huge deceptions and sleights of hand. Their sole concern is to profit from our toil. After this rescue, the working conditions will remain the same or even worsen due to capitalism’s worldwide crisis, and the ruling class can do nothing to change this situation. Only workers’ unity against the interests of the exploiters offers the possibility of another life. The international working class, through spreading its economic struggles, regaining and deepening its political vision, can demonstrate to the whole of humanity that it is capable to putting forward a truly human community, where its role as beasts of burden is abolished forever.

Workers of the world unite!

Grupo de Lucha Proletaria 20/10/10


[1]. The recent death s underground of 29 miners in a more ‘advanced’ country like New Zealand is a tragic confirmation of this statement


[2]. Laurence Golborne, the present Chilean Minister of Mines


[3]. For more see




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