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Rescue Of Chilean Miners Unites Southern California Chilean Community

Jenny Chen |
October 13, 2010 | 7:46 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Raul Bustos was the thirtieth miner to exit. (Hugo Infante/Government of Chile)
Raul Bustos was the thirtieth miner to exit. (Hugo Infante/Government of Chile)
Los Angeles Chileans have banded together to rejoice over the good news that 33 miners who spent 69 days trapped underground have been rescued.

The Chilean community is small, with only 8,000 people in L.A. County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

Still, audible cheers were heard in restaurant Rincón Chileno Tuesday night as community members watched the rescuers pull miners one-by-one.

Enrique Klapp, a customer of the Rosemead restaurant for 23 years, says everyone was glued to the television screen. 

“Everyone was cheering [and] so happy,” Klapp says, comparing the first miner rescue to the U.S. moon landing in 1969, calling it “ethereal.” 

Jorge Rojas, a member of the San Bernardino Club de Huasos, shares Klapp’s sentiments. He called the rescue “unbelievable” and a miracle, given the difficulties presented. 

In a community so spread apart, Klapp and Rojas have discovered that moments like this forge stronger connections among Chileans in America. 

“We’re very solitary,” Rojas says, acknowledging that Chilean communities are few and scattered. Yet, Rojas says the community will naturally come together, especially as groups come together in celebration over the safety of the miners. 

Such unity is visible in Rincón Chileno, which has been a community marker since the 1970s. 

Whether spontaneous or arranged, the restaurant has played host to community members during the Chile earthquake in March, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and most recently, the miners’ rescue. 

“[Last night] was a beautiful event that began with tragedy,” Klapp says. 


Reach reporter Jenny Chen here.

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Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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