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‘What pride to be Chilean’: Rescue effort galvanizes Chilean citizens

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

By Greg Botelho, CNN - October 13, 2010 3:40 p.m. EDT

Copiapo, which could have been the site of mass mourning had the miners’ rescue effort gone awry, instead became home to a patriotic festival.

The strong national pride was omnipresent: from the red, white and blue Chilean flags that permeated the rescue site to the chants that rang out as the miners rose to the surface.

It was clear, too, many miles away — whether it was the hugs and tears of joy among the throngs watching the scene on a flickering big-screen TV set up in a Santiago city square, the champagne corks popping at the Chilean embassy in Washington, or countless bite-sized conversations in the vast reaches of cyberspace where the Chilean miners were a top trending discussion on Twitter.

“What emotion! What happiness! What pride to be Chilean!” wrote Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, on his own Twitter page.

Like many emerging countries, Chile has not been without its challenges. It continues to emerge from the shadows of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s rule from 1974 to 1990, when up to 30,000 people vanished or were killed because of their political beliefs. Economic disparities and political divisions still exist, with the global recession having a real impact in this Andean nation. Yet, its past and recent challenges notwithstanding, Chile has also emerged as a model in Latin America and the world, given its solid economic base and fervent democracy.

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