Beware of fraudsters, Chilean miners tell rescued Thai boys

Rescue personnel work at the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand in early July 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. (THAI NAVY SEAL/via REUTERS)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Beware of fraudsters, Chilean miners tell rescued Thai boys

SANTIAGO: Guard against exploitation: that’s the message Chilean miners have offered the 12 Thai boys and their football coach following the harrowing ordeal of spending 18 days trapped in a cave.
Before even the clothes of the Wild Boar football team players had dried following the last dramatic escape mission on Tuesday from the flooded cave, already plans were being made to turn their heroic tale into a Hollywood movie.
Eight years ago, 33 Chilean miners were stuck underground for 69 days after a cave-in, before their torment was turned into a motion picture starring Antonio Banderas.
But although “The 33” grossed $25 million at the box office, the miners never saw a penny of that.
“Hopefully they’ll make a film, a television series, a best-selling novel, but that they do it well, that they are smart and don’t get taken for a ride by fraudsters,” Mario Sepulveda, who was played by Banderas in “The 33,” told AFP.
The boys are aged 11 to 16 and even their coach is only 25, whereas the Chilean miners were all grown men.
Many of them have suffered terribly since their traumatic experience in the San Jose mine in the Atacama desert.
“The most important thing is that the authorities and their families protect these kids because many people just want to take advantage,” said Luis Urzua, another miner.
On Tuesday night, the managing partner of US faith-based production house Pure Flix, Michael Scott revealed on Twitter his plans to turn the story into a film.
But before worrying about how to sell their stories, Urzua warns that recovering from the “the experience of a lifetime” won’t be easy.
“It’s been eight years but there are still many things we can’t overcome,” added Urzua.
Another miner, Jose Ojeda, had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
And there is bitterness at having been exploited by lawyers, producers and others who wanted to benefit from their story.
“Once they’d got the information off us, they disappeared,” said Urzua.
He says they were badly advised and fell for promises they would be made millionaires so “ceded all (intellectual) rights for life.”
Urzua is among a group of miners who want to rescind that decision.
Despite spending more than two months 600 meters below the surface, “we can’t even sell one line of the 33,” he lamented.
Urzua says the miners never received a penny from the film, directed by Mexican Patricia Riggen, or the book written by Los Angeles Times journalist Hector Tobar, whom the Chileans picked to write the official account of their trauma.
“They destroyed us,” said Urzua, who praised the protective circle that has enveloped the Thai boys.
Urzua says all he got was “less” than the five million pesos (less than $8,000 in today’s exchange rate) that Chilean businessman Leonardo Farkas handed each miner as they left their captivity.
Sepulveda, though, has faith in the Thai footballers saying the “strength of these boys is different to ours.”
“If they keep training, they’ll handle it really well, as long as they stick together,” he told AFP.


El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

Evelyn Hernandez (C) is surrounded by activists after being released from the women's Readaptation Center, in Ilopango, El Salvador, on February 9, 2019, where she was serving a 30-year-sentence for aggravated homicide after her baby died at birth. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

  • Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR: A Salvadoran court on Friday freed Evelyn Hernandez, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn baby at home.
After serving 33 months for aggravated homicide, 20-year-old Hernandez smiled as she was reunited with her parents and a brother in the capital San Salvador.
The court in Cojutepeque, east of the capital, ruled that she will be retried but while living at home. A hearing has been set for April 4, with a new judge, her lawyer Angelica Rivas said.
El Salvador has an extremely strict abortion ban. Hernandez gave birth in the makeshift bathroom of her home in the central Cuscatlan region. She was 18 years old and eight months pregnant.
She said her son was stillborn but was convicted of murdering him, abortion rights group ACDATEE said.
ACDATEE cited a pathologist’s report which it said indicated the baby had choked to death while still in the womb.
Prosecutors argued Hernandez was culpable for not having sought prenatal care, ACDATEE said.
The group said Hernandez had not known she was pregnant and gave birth on the toilet after feeling abdominal pains. She got pregnant as the result of a rape, which she did not report out of fear because her family had been threatened.
Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador. Campaigners say some have been jailed after suffering miscarriages.
The country’s abortion law made international headlines in 2013 when a sick woman was forbidden from aborting a fetus which developed without a brain.
Under a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Salvadoran state eventually authorized her to undergo a cesarean section. The baby died shortly after the procedure.