Chile is More Than 33 Miners -- The February 2010 Quake & Tsunami

The global community has joined together in rejoicing at the rescue of 33 Chilean miners. It is a wonderful example of a collective will to perform a near-miracle in drilling over 2000 feet through solid rock in a fragile area repeatedly cited for unsafe mining conditions. People have likened the video of the miners' rescue as comparable to Apollo 13.

But largely forgotten in the wake of Haiti's earthquake in January was the February 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile which destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, commercial offices, fishing boats, vineyards, highways and much more of Chile's infrastructure.

Even though Chile has a nest egg of $12 billion made from its sale of copper futures as part of its structural deficit program under former President Ricardo Lagos, much of those funds are not available to help Chile's quake and tsunami victims. In fact, international aid to Chilean quake victims has been minimal given the huge overall need; and, while many of Chile's social programs are generous in comparison to others in South America, Sebastian Pinera, the billionaire conservative President of Chile, is intent on dismantling or cutting back on publicly funded social programs.

If Americans want to express their joy and admiration for Chile's heroic mine rescue, they can revisit Chile's current need for assistance to hundreds of thousands of quake and tsunami victims who need permanent housing, rebuilt schools and clinics and income generating activities stimulated by livelihood grants to those wanting to build back their lives.