The Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has vowed that no workers in the country will ever again suffer conditions like those experienced by the 33 freed miners.
He was speaking as he met the men in hospital where they have been resting.
Most are in surprisingly good health, some may be released today.
The President used the occasion to look beyond the euphoria of the rescue.
“Never again in our country will we allow people to work in conditions as unsafe and inhuman as those who worked in the San Jose mine and in many other places in our country,” he said.
The papers described the rescue operation as a miracle. Chile’s health minister used the same word when talking about the condition of the miners.
One – the oldest – has pneumonia, while the youngest has shown signs of depression. Several have sufferred dental and eye problems.
Amid the exuberant scenes at the top of the shaft, any problems were far from evident.
Whether they will ever go down a mine again is something each will have to decide.
In the meantime they have been invited to the presidential palace later this month.
Piñera, a football fan like many of the miners, challenged them to a match against members of his cabinet.
The team that wins stays in the palace, he joked. The one that loses goes back to the mine.
How many hangovers there are among Copiapó‘s population of 150,000 is anyone’s guess. Many noisily celebrebrated the rescue of the miners, most of whom come from the town.
According to the president, a billion people around the world watched the events unfold.
The capsule nicknamed Phoenix has risen for the last time; Camp Hope where relatives waited patiently for weeks has been dismantled.
The successful rescue has made many Chileans proud. But the problems at the origin of this long dramatic adventure must now be addressed.