It’s the tragic story everyone’s been talking about: 33 miners have been trapped 2,300 feet below the earth’s surface in a mine located in the northern Chilean city of Copiapo, 500 miles north of Santiago. As if that’s not bad enough, they’ve been down there since August 5th and only 21 have been lifted out as of this afternoon’s rescue. This story is as sad as it is terrifying, and it is debatable whether it’s caused more grief for the miners themselves or for those they’ve left on the surface. Since the moment the mine caved in 69 days ago, the women and families of the trapped men have been spending their days hoping and praying for a good outcome. No one ever suspected, however, that one of them would end up feeling more betrayed than relieved upon the rescue of her husband.
The Other Women
According to Britain’s Telegraph, hordes of women have been coming to Camp Hope to receive government handouts, including welfare packages issued to the families of trapped miners as well as future compensation claims that could run into the thousands of dollars. In this process, however, at least five of these wives have been forced to come into contact with their husbands’ formerly unknown mistresses. While some of the "other women" have realized the sad and embarrassing situation first and slipped away in order to avoid even more hurt for the wives and children of the men, others are not letting go of their potential benefits quietly. One man has four women fighting over him — a first wife he never divorced, his live-in partner, a mother of a child he had several years ago, and a woman who claims to be his current girlfriend — and each of them are eager to receive compensation for the miner, who still potentially has three to four months left underground until the rescue shaft, known as "The Fenix", can reach them.
It’s All About the Money
Surprisingly or not, most of the conflict stems from money issues, according to Marta Flores, a Red Cross worker at the makeshift camp where relatives wait for news of their loved ones. Some women have shown up at the camp, only to find out that their lover’s real wife and children are already there waiting for them. "Some of the men have children from numerous women and all of them have arrived here to stake their claim," Flores says. "I’ve met five families in this situation but I’m sure there are more." With all of this drama, there will undoubtedly be some broken hearts involved. Special welfare officers trained in marital issues have even been brought in to help women coping with the fact that their husbands have been unfaithful.
Marta Salinas, the Cheatee
Most notable of the wives who’ve discovered their men’s mistresses is Marta Salinas, the spouse of miner Yonni Barrios Rojas. Rojas is the only one of the miners who is medically trained and has been using his knowledge to treat the first aid problems of those underground. While his medical know-how has been much appreciated, he will have some serious questions to answer when he is rescued today. However, he’ll only have one woman to whom he’ll be answering — and it won’t be his wife.
A Proper Refusal
Rojas does not know that his wife, Salinas, knows about his mistress since a team of psychologists in charge of ensuring the miners’ mental welfare have been directed to keep the news of all the outed lovers from the men. Salinas discovered her husband’s lover during a vigil when she spotted the woman crying and calling out his name. Furious and confused, Rojas’ wife of 28 years refused the invitation to his final rescue this afternoon and said she won’t be watching it on TV either. “I am happy because he made it, it’s a miracle of God. But I’m not going to see the rescue,” she stated to a reporter. She stated she is not interested in attending the rescue after learning that her husband had also invited his mistress, Susana Valenzuela. “He asked me to, but it turns out that he also asked the other lady, and I am a decent woman. Things are clear: it’s her or me," she firmly said.
Salinas’ Mind is Made Up
Although devastated by the discovery of Valenzuela, Salinas seems to be keeping it together. "In phone conversations and letters he’s sent to me it’s clear that he’s fine, and that’s enough for me," she said. As for their reconciliation, nothing is certain except Salinas’ mind. "He is my husband. He loves me and I am his devoted wife," she insisted. "This other woman has no legitimacy."