The men hailed as heroes a year ago are facing a very different reality today. From the New York Times:
After his dramatic rescue from a mine last year, Jimmy Sánchez traveled the world, cruising the Greek islands, visiting Britain, Israel, Los Angeles, Disney World — all paid for by people who were moved by the Chilean miners’ story of courage and perseverance.
But today Mr. Sánchez, like many of the 33 miners who survived 69 days nearly a half-mile underground, is jobless and at wits’ end. Twice a month, he boards a bus to Santiago, Chile’s capital, traveling 11 hours each way for a short visit with a psychiatrist. He is one of nine miners receiving sick-leave pay for prolonged post-traumatic stress; a handful of others say they are seeing private therapists.
“Most of us are in the same place with emotional and psychological problems,” said Mr. Sánchez, 20. “It was the fear that we would never again see our families, that we were going to die. We just can’t shake those memories.”One year after their globally televised rescue, after the worldwide spotlight faded and the trips and offers have dwindled, the miners say that most of them are unemployed and that many are poorer than before.
Only a handful of them have steady jobs, they say. Just four have returned to mining. Two others, Víctor Zamora and Darío Segovia, are trying to make ends meet by selling fruits and vegetables, one from a stall, the other out of his truck.
“They made us feel like heroes,” said Edison Peña, another miner, who is now in a psychiatric clinic. “In the end, we are selling peanuts. It’s ironic, isn’t it?”
Some miners have been paid to do interviews or give motivational speeches. But those opportunities proved fleeting for most. Now many are counting on a Hollywood movie about them — which still does not have a script — to be their economic savior.
Mr. Peña, the miner who became famous for his love of Elvis Presley and running, is coping with trauma caused not only by his time below but also by the aftermath of the rescue, when the demands of instant celebrity proved overwhelming, his doctor said, leading him to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Three miners, including Mr. Sánchez and Mr. Segovia, recently resumed psychiatric treatment after the nightmares and sleeplessness returned. Doctors said that they expected more of them to have a relapse, and that many now get by on a steady regimen of sedatives and antidepressants.