Thursday, October 28, 2010

Poster of the Week

Cobre Chileno/Chilean Copper
Vicente and Antonio Larrea
Offset, 1972
Santiago, Chile
You are the fatherland, the pampa (prairie) and people, sand, clay, school, house, resurrection, fist, offensive, order, parade, attack, wheat , struggle, grandeur, resistance.
On October 13, 2010, the world celebrated the incredible rescue of 33 Chilean miners trapped 2,000 feet underground for 69 days in a gold and copper mine near Copiapó a desert city in Northern Chile. For the first 17 days, no one knew if any had survived the mine’s collapse, and the miners were in complete isolation. As much of the world anxiously watched the miner’s harrowing ordeal, few were aware that the mine owners in their generosity did not pay the men's wages while they were trapped underground.*
The joy and relief over their rescue must also not prevent more critical views of the circumstances leading up to the collapse. The San José mine had a history of accidents: over a dozen lives have been lost there in recent years. It became so unsafe in 2007 it had to be closed – but not for long. On July 30, 2010, a Chilean labor department report warned again of “serious safety deficiencies”, but the minister took no action. Six days later, the men were entombed. We should not even be calling it an “accident” when it appears to be a crime caused by negligence and greed. **
As Chilean President Sebastian Piñera hugged each miner as they came out of the narrow escape shaft, it is important to remember how Chilean miners were murdered nearby under the Pinochet dictatorship just decades earlier.
In 1970, Salvador Allende was democratically elected President of Chile, despite active intervention by the United States to thwart his election. On September 11, 1973, Allende was overthrown by a C.I.A. instigated coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. Under Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship over 20,000 were killed or disappeared, and an estimated 1,000,000 were in exile following the coup.
On October 17, 1973, just a month after the coup and 37 years before the mine rescue— almost to the day — one of Pinochet’s death squads murdered 16 men in Copiapó, including some copper miners. This same death squad, which came to be called the Caravan of Death, killed more than 70 Chileans suspected of leftist activities that month alone.
CSPG’s Poster of the Week commemorates the period before Pinochet’s coup against Chilean democracy. The text was taken from a poem by Pablo Neruda. Its use on the poster celebrates President Salvador Allende’s nationalization of copper in 1971, Chile’s main export and a national symbol. The poster shows all classes of Chilean society united in the cause — including the soldier who, as representative of the Chilean armed forces, would (with U.S. help) oust Allende and overturn his socialist programs just one year later.
**Not unlike British Petroleum—BP—which has one of the worst safety records of any oil company operating in the U.S. With the April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, BP is responsible for the worst oil spill in U.S. history. With a long history of negligence and safety violations, this too should be called a crime, not an accident.
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