The Chilean miner who wrote the note that gave hope for a rescue at the San Jose mine wants it back.
When the men were trapped in the mine following a collapse in August last year, Jose Ojeda wrote note reading, “We are okay in the refuge, the 33 of us.”
The note was attached to a probe that reached the miners trapped 700 metres underground 17 days after the collapse.
There had been little hope for their survival, but when the note was found a frantic rescue effort began.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera kept the note in a plastic bag and has frequently shown it off to the media.
He says he was heavily involved in the rescue operation and travelled to the mine six times to oversee the operations.
Pinera was there when the men were finally rescued in October and hugged many of the miners as they emerged one by one.
The president then took the note and gift bags with rocks from the mine with him on visits to Britain, France and Germany.
The government wants “everything related to the rescue to be put on display at a museum that all Chileans can visit,” according to government spokesperson Ena von Naer.
This would include the note, which is still in the possession of the president.
But now the author of the note wants it back.
"Six months have gone by, they told me to ask for a meeting with the president, that I should send a letter to La Moneda (the presidential palace) … but nothing has happened," Ojeda told the daily La Cuarta on Wednesday.
"I think it’s fine to keep it for a few months, but not become the owner of something I did," he said.
Von Baer said that the president will talk with the 33 miners and their families to discuss his government’s idea for a museum "so that all the Chileans and foreigners who experienced this true feat via their television screens can relive it."
Image: Jose Ojeda; The Guardian