President Obama won't be meeting with the famous Chilean miners on his Latin America trip this week, but he did reference their heroic rescue last year as a symbol for hope around the world.
In his Latin American address in Santiago Monday, Obama recalled, "as the miners were lifted to safety, for those joyous reunions, it was a truly global moment, watched and celebrated by more than a billion people."
Thirty-three men were trapped underground for 69 days last year following a mining explosion in a copper and gold mine of northern Chile. The miners became instant national and global celebrities as the world watched and waited for their rescue. Several American companies, including a team from NASA helped design and operate the drill in the rescue operation.
Following the dramatic rescue last October, President Obama held a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House saying, "This rescue is a tribute not only to the determination of the rescue workers and the Chilean government but also the, of the Chilean people, who have inspired the world. And I want to express the hopes of the American people that the miners who are still trapped underground will be returned home safely as soon as possible."
Copper is the main export of Chile and the state-owned mining company CODELCO, which owns and operates the mine of the accident, is the largest copper-producing firm in the world.