By MARK LORENZANA
The visit of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) to the collapsed El Pintabete coal mine in Mexico’s northern state of Coahuila — where, on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 10 miners were trapped by the collapse and flooding of a well, and who are yet to be rescued — has added more despair, instead of comfort, to the relatives of the victims.
On the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 7 — four days after the accident — López Obrador arrived at the site and proceeded to tour the mine with Coahuila Governor Miguel Riquelme Solís. AMLO, however only stayed less than five minutes to address the concerns of the families of the trapped miners.
The presidential visit, in total, lasted approximately 30 minutes.
A video that has since been circulated on social media networks, which was originally published by Monserrat Ortíz, a reporter for Televisa, showed a woman — who was later identified as Lucía Ramírez, the mother of Ramiro Torres, a worker still trapped in the mine — sending a message to López Obrador and conveying her disappointment at AMLO’s short visit, saying, “Why did they come just to play with our feelings? Why didn’t they talk to the people who are really affected?
“I thank you for coming to take a photo with my pain, my family’s pain and the pain of each one of us here,” Ramírez said, on the verge of tears. “Thank you, and I hope the photographs you took with us, the families of the victims, will serve whatever political purpose you want it to serve. Thank you very much for your great visit.”
While López Obrador was touring the mine with the Coahuila governor, a commotion broke out among a group of people composed of loved ones and relatives of the trapped miners, who wanted a more formal audience with AMLO. The group was held back by a metal fence, as well as elements of the Mexican Army. Several members of the group also fainted.
The collapse on Wednesday occurred in one of the shafts of a coal pit where the miners were working. After the collapse, the mine began flooding, according to local reports. Given the circumstances of the flooded mine, at this point, most experts have considered this stage of the operations as a recovery, and not a rescue.