Moles in Oakleys

The Chilean miners are out and the story is now about them, their social drama, their economic woes. The Oakleys are a contrast to the poverty some of these men sleep on. No one wondered if these men had a motivation, a life to surface into. At this point they hope to become rich with book and movie deals. Getting stuck in the mine might be the best thing that happens to these ‘moles.’

Riches may come, but for now, many face an uncomfortable present: Most live in improvised homes in marginal neighborhoods. Some have strained relationships with the families who held vigil, praying for their survival. All face a search for work since the mine that employed them has filed for bankruptcy.

Carlos Mamani, the only Bolivian in the group, lives in a small green wooden house on an unpaved road in Padre Negro. On a clear night, the glittering street lights of Copiapo stretch out like a beautiful carpet below mountains that hold the promise of copper and gold.

But Padre Negro’s 38 houses lack access to sewers and running water. Mamani and his neighbors – mainly Bolivians and Peruvians – must walk for blocks to two public taps to get water and then carry it back up the hill.

“This area is dangerous at night. Drugs are sold here and there is theft. I’ve lived here for a while and I still have to be careful to avoid problems,” said one of Mamani’s neighbors, Jose Vadillo, a 15-year-old Bolivian, to The Associated Press.




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