From the outset, we've known about the fellowship, the organization and the discipline that allowed the 33 men not merely to survive nearly unbearable conditions but to keep up mroale when the miners believed they'd never make it out. Sepulveda's interview reconfirms this.
We practised democracy. Each person had a vote and if 17 men voted one way, that made the decision. We tried to stay as normal as we could under the circumstances and to watch out for each other...‘If one was down, the others rallied. Each day a different person took a bad turn. Every time that happened, we worked as a team, to try to keep the morale up. We older ones took care of the younger ones. We knew that if society broke down we would all be doomed. It was important to keep clean, to keep busy, to keep believing we would be rescued. It was important to keep faith.
And it's this sense of responsibility for the younger miners, he says, that inspired the fabled Pact. As he explains it,
By that time things had become very bad. When you are in a stressful situation like that, you do and say things in extremes. We made the Pact of Silence to protect some of the younger, less educated ones. It was a pact of brotherhood. Originally we were not going to talk at all about the 17 days....There are some things I will never talk about. But they are things that would embarrass some of the kids. Nothing sexual, more that they acted like kids. It is important, even now, for the older ones to protect the younger, more vulnerable ones.
And to those who were thinking something more prurient — perhaps orgies in the unbearable heat and unrelenting damp, next to a makeshift toilet? Yeah, not so much. As Sepulveda points out, "We were too busy trying to survive to think of sex." Things didn't get much more erotic than helping each other wash by pouring single cups of water over each other — not exactly the stuff of Brokeback. Says he. "We didn't really even talk about sex. We spoke of our wives and we made some jokes but we never talked about sex seriously because that would have been too painful."
So what exactly they're protecting is unclear — and seems to be as simple as privacy. What's more, the sense of responsibility for the younger miners continues. Of the newfound fame, Sepulveda says that
This situation won't affect someone like me, who has a wife and kids. But, for sure, some of the younger miners will have their heads turned by the offers of money and fame. We have been talking in the hospital this week about this and we have agreed to try to stick together, to carry on supporting the younger ones.
Much less prurient, much more inspiring. For salacious miner sex details, you'll need to look elsewhere.
'For 14 Days We Were All In Pitch Darkness. There Was No Night And No Day. We Begged God To Help Us': The Amazing First Interview With One Of The Trapped Chilean Miners [Sunday Mail]