Chile’s 33 rescued miners launch souvenir range

They are being immortalized in movies, books and even statues, but for some of “Los 33,” hardships continue. Now a new business model might help turn that around.

Mario Sepulveda, the second miner to be rescued. Photo by Hugo Infante / Government of Chile.
Mario Sepulveda, the second miner to be rescued. Photo by Hugo Infante / Government of Chile.

For 69 days in 2010, 33 Chilean miners trapped underground became the center of the global media’s attention.

Their story played out like a fairy tale, as they went from an obscure group of working class Chileans to international celebrities, almost overnight.

They traveled the world to meet dignitaries, attended important football matches and cultural events, they had books written about them, a statue made to commemorate their ordeal and rescue, and a Hollywood movie is even in the works.

But with the second anniversary of the rescue approaching, many of the miners say they suffer from flashbacks and nightmares from their time spent trapped in the San José mine, and that they’re struggling for money.

Now a new business line is hoping to turn that situation around for good, with news that a range of souvenirs will be launched, with proceeds going directly to the rescued miners.

One of the miners, José Ojeda, told the BBC that the group had chosen to name of their line as “The 33 of the miracle» upon discovering that others, like «The Atacama 33″ and «Operation San Lorenzo» were already trademarked.

After penning the famous note that informed the world that “Los 33” were still alive, Ojeda himself holds the rights to that iconic collective nickname, after Chilean author Pablo Huneeus copyrighted it on the miner’s behalf.

Ojeda said that the miners plan to sell T-shirts, mugs and commemorative medals at airports in Chile, so that tourists can take a piece of the historic rescue home with them.

Upcoming anniversary

August 5, 2012, will mark the second anniversary of the event, and many of “Los 33” will attend a ceremony at the San José Mine, where a monument to their rescue will be inaugurated.

The monument will be of a 16 foot (5 m) cross and an altar to the patron saint of miners, the Virgin of the Candelaria.