Chile Mine Rescue: Much to Celebrate

Ray Walser /

The successful rescue of 33 Chilean miners trapped for 69 days has produced an outpouring of joy and triumph around the world. A well-deserved round of kudos goes to the miners themselves for maintaining their discipline and faith and to the engineers, scientists, and Chilean government officials who made the daring operation work.

A share of the credit also belongs to Chile’s conservative President Sebastian Piñera, whose capacity for crisis management was proven by the nation’s impressive recovery from the February 27 earthquake. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Observers say some of the innovation and management reflects Mr. Piñera’s background as a billionaire entrepreneur who ran a successful airline. Mr. Piñera made such a big bet on getting the miners out that a political scientist dubbed him “the 34th miner”—suggesting his own fate was linked to that of the men below.

It is also an opportunity to recall that Chileans take justifiable pride in their robust free market economy, entrepreneurial spirit, solid multi-party democracy, and stellar governance record. These constitute the foundation that allowed the rescue to succeed.

It is also an opportunity to recognize contributions made by U.S. members of the rescue team. Kudos to Jeff Hart, an experienced driller working in Afghanistan when the mine collapsed; to the small U.S. company that supplied the drill bits; to NASA scientists who used space program lessons to help design the escape vehicle; and to Cupron Inc of Richmond, Va., which supplied socks made with copper fiber to consume foot bacteria and minimized odor and infection.

The work of U.S. partners within the framework of a strong U.S.-Chile friendship stands in stark contrast to the prevailing narrative of the evil, rapacious Gringo spread by the likes of anti-American leaders like Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro.

The success of the rescue effort may also cause some heartburn in Washington, where political posturing and bureaucratic bungling too often reign. ABC News reports:

Chile has done this much better, frankly, than we’ve done in the U.S. recently by effectively marshaling and mobilizing all resources, whether they be foreign governments or private sector organizations from all over the world,’ said Daniel Kaniewski, deputy director of George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute.

The rescue is far more than a passing human-interest story; it should become a teachable moment about what is possible when all elements within a free society work to achieve a common, strategic goal.