Arturo Fermandois, Chilean ambassador to the United States, said he used to have a hard time finding concrete examples to explain the Chilean spirit.
Five days after the Oct. 13 rescue of the 33 trapped miners he told The Catholic Standard that it is now easy to explain to the world: “This is Chile.”
The ambassador said the miners were able to stay alive by their practicality and by maintaining the ”spirit and faith which were centrally and critically important for reaching the end.”
“Because you know if they were defeated by a lack of hope, we would not have found them alive,” he added.
The ambassador said the miners may not all have been active believers but ”some of them, who were not as deeply involved in faith, began to pray and began to think about God” while they were trapped.
During the whole ordeal, there was a large outpouring of support for the miners from the Chilean community in the Washington area.
On Oct. 12, the embassy set up a large TV screen outside to broadcast the rescue. Several hundred people spontaneously showed up to watch and wait for the miners to emerge above ground.
When the first miner was rescued, Fermandois said, “There was an explosion of emotions, explosion of happiness, explosion of unity as I’ve never seen in my life!”
After their rescue, the miners were admitted to the hospital for health checkups and released a couple of days later. Some of them returned to the site of the mine for a Mass of thanksgiving Oct. 17. In recent weeks the men have been besieged by media with requests for interviews. In November Discovery Channel and PBS plan to air documentaries about their remarkable rescue.