Monday, November 1, 2010

Another view on the rescue of Chilean miners

Since writing this piece about some of the inconvenient truths not heard during the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners I came across the excellent website Alborada which covers Latin America related issues.

Pablo Navarrete, who edits the site, wrote this excellent article about the reasons why the Chilean accident occurred and the wider context in which the accident took place. 

Navarrete shows that the "profit over people" market logic that has driven Chile's neo-liberal economic model since the Pinochet dictatorship was the driving factor for the accident. This profit over people logic has delivered huge profits to the mining companies but has resulted in a terrible safety record and poor salaries and conditions for mine workers.

As Navarrete sees it the centre left governments that ran Chile from 1990-2010 attempted to moderate the harsh social impacts of the neo-liberal model, but did little to challenge the fundamental logic of the model.  Mineral exports account for 60% of Chile's foreign earnings.

As a consequence, the mining companies, including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto who own 57.5% and 30% respectively of Chile's largest copper mine, make super profits at the expense of the great mass of the Chilean people, resulting in a country with one of the most unequal distribution of wealth in the world.

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