One year after their dramatic rescue, Chilean miners struggle with life – by Laura Stone (Toronto Star – October 13, 2011)

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When Edison Pena arrived in Toronto earlier this summer, he wore blue suede shoes in honour of his favourite singer, Elvis, whose music comforted Pena while he was trapped in a Chilean copper mine for 69 days.

He admitted a struggle with depression, but said things were going better for him, his wife and 4-year-old daughter.

“Stay positive. Don’t surrender yourself,” said the amateur crooner, who also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and ran in the New York City Marathon weeks after his release.

But for Pena and the 32 other miners known worldwide as “Los 33,” the relief appears short-lived. One year after their dramatic rescue from the San Jose mine, after being freed, feted and given fame, most of the men are struggling with a different foe: reality.

“They don’t feel that comfortable with the world,” Jonathan Franklin, a Chile-based reporter and journalist whose book, 33 Men, chronicles the miners’ harrowing first 17 days spent underground, said in an interview.

“What they went through was so hellish and so close to the textbook definition of torture it’s not at all surprising that they’re going to have to be dealing with this for the rest of their lives.”

While he sounded somewhat settled on his visit to Ontario to attend the Collingwood Elvis Festival, Pena is now in a private clinic and admits to drinking and drug problems, according to The New York Times.

Franklin said Pena’s one of three men who have been institutionalized. Others have trouble sleeping and many are taking antipsychotic drugs.

And although they were celebrated around the world, reports suggest many of the miners now feel abandoned by their own country.

After their rescue, the men were each given $15,000 by a local businessman, but for most, the money has run out, Franklin reported in The Guardian in August.

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