Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

The Prosecutor Who Could Save Baltimore

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Central African Republic: French soldiers face sex abuse allegations

Read more

#THE 51%

UK elections: Does the women's vote count?

Read more

REVISITED

Questions remain 7 years after China's Sichuan quake

Read more

#TECH 24

Apple Watch put to the test

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Bread, a French tradition

Read more

FOCUS

Lebanon's Roumieh prison: Iron-fist policy against a jihadist hub

Read more

REPORTERS

Syria: On the trail of looted antiquities

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Are you ready to rumble? Mayweather-Pacquiao is biggest payday in sports history

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2011-10-14

The “Atacama 33”, one year on

Their story gripped the world. Trapped at the bottom of a mine for 69 days, the “Atacama 33” went though a living hell. Their incredible rescue was watched live by over a billion people on television. One year on, now the media frenzy has subsided, what has happened to them? Is the nightmare really over? What are their lives like today?

To reach the San José mine, we must first travel 850 km from Santiago of Chile, along a road in a lunar landscape. Both anxious and excited, Claudio guides us in through the dunes of the Atacama. It is the first time he has made this journey since it came out of the mine a year ago. A truck moving, a rickety fence, some old oil cans are scattered about, as if the occupants have suddenly fled. Sylvain, our sound engineer records crackling and the timid song of a lone bird. In an atmosphere reminiscent of a Serio Leone film, Claudio has flashbacks of the two thousand journalists, the families, the officials, he hears the flashes and applause, he is lost for words. It is a year since the 33 emerged from 700 meters underground, after 69 days, under the world’s media spotlight. But now it's the come down, unemployment and tranquilizers. At the miners hometown of Copiapo, a city of 130 000 inhabitants, the tragedy is not spoken about. Too many headlines, too much jealousy, too much publicity around these men from the village, some of whem are suspected of orchestrating their communication to the point of asking for 3000 dollars for a one-hour appearance on television. This weekend of September, the city celebrates the independence of Chile. Everyone attends the gala, the "fonda" as it is known here. The women run a stand, the stand of 33, it is the most empty as the party gets into full swing. Johnny, one of the survivors of the San José drama led a double life: his wife and his mistress both came to support him. He refuses to speak to the camera. Susanna, his mistress, is here preparing the skewers. She accuses the state and the mining company of letting the men down. Dario, another of the miners is depressed. Amongst the vacant stares, two musicians play throughout the night. Our crew member, Tito, tries to explain to families that we are not here to judge but to listen. But it is not easy to convince them. Even Pamela, a journalist with the local newspaper just about manages to convince them. We head a little way from the city and probably the most shocking moment of the trip. Jimmy is 20 and since his release from the mine, he stutters. Unemployed and too young to receive any compensation, he lives as a recluse in his neighborhood. Sometimes he is angry. "I want to scream out loud!" he says. But under his eyes dark, there is a glimmer of hope. It is his cherished dream to happily simply chase after the kites, on the outskirts of Copiapo.

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2015-04-30 Syria

Syria: On the trail of looted antiquities

As the war in Syria enters its fifth year, the trafficking of looted antiquities is adding a new dimension to the tragic conflict. Many Syrian artefacts are smuggled across the...

Read more

2015-04-24 World War I

Saving French soldiers' WWI trench carvings

In 1914, a former underground quarry in Picardy in northern France is requisitioned by the French army. For almost four years, hundreds of soldiers were stationed there. Many...

Read more

2015-04-17 Armenia

Turkey’s hidden Armenians search for stolen identity

In 1915, during World War I, the Ottoman Empire ordered the extermination of the Armenian people. One and a half million were killed in the first genocide of the 20th century....

Read more

2015-04-10 Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso: Generation Sankara

Six months after the ouster of Blaise Compaoré, Burkina Faso is attempting to organise its first democratic elections, set for October. Fears of a coup still loom. But from...

Read more

2015-04-03 Islam

Inside the French Islamic Organisation

Ever since the January terror attacks in Paris, debate has focussed on how well integrated France's Muslim community is. One organisation that has come under the spotlight in...

Read more