First Interviews With Chilean Miners : The Two-Way The miners have spoken, a little, with some media. One quote, when the probe from the surface arrived, "We sang the national anthem as soon as the tube arrived. We painted it. With so much adrenaline in that moment we could not think."
NPR logo First Interviews With Chilean Miners

First Interviews With Chilean Miners

Rescued miner Luis Urzua shouts "Long live Chile" as he arrives to the hospital in Copiapo, Chile. Dario Lopez-Mills/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

The first interview with the 33 Chilean miners trapped for months beneath the surface are coming out. The Guardian managed to talk to a few of them in the hospital. First they spoke with shift foreman Luis Urzúa. His secret at keeping the men together?

"You just have to speak the truth and believe in democracy," said Urzúa, his eyes hidden behind black glasses.

As nurses, doctors and psychologists rushed around him in a chaotic scene, the world's most famous foreman sat in bed, his arms folded across a thick chest, and spoke about making tough decisions 700 metres below ground when all hope seemed lost. "Everything was voted on ... We were 33 men, so 16 plus one was a majority."

They also talked with another miner Richard Villaroel in a separate interview.

Urzúa tried to instil a philosophical acceptance of fate. "Every day [he] told us to have strength. If they find us they find us, if not, that's that. Because the probes [drilling towards the men] were so far away so we had no hope. Strength came by itself. I had never prayed before, but I learned to pray, to get close to God."

Villaroel said the men divided up into work groups. "We the mechanics were part of one group, we took care of the trucks. Other people organised the food, rationed it."

When the probe finally reached the men, euphoria swept them. "It was huge happiness for us all. We sang the national anthem as soon as the tube arrived. We painted it. With so much adrenaline in that moment we could not think."

But it wasn't all sweetness and light down in the mineshaft. The Guardian reports that major disagreements and factionalism occasionally broke into fistfights. But, says the paper, all the men have agreed that what happened in the mine, stays in the mine, and that they will all pool whatever monetary awards they get from their story.