Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chilean Miners-Wives and Mistresses

Everyone has heard the miracle of the 33 miners in Chile found alive, yet still trapped. The drama on the surface is less told. Divorce in Chile has only been legal since the end of 2004. Chilean men are macho men culturally. Men are men and women are women. I once saw a Chilean man sweep but he was only 30 or so and it was just that one day lol. Seriously, a Chilena friend was shocked that my boyfriend often made the coffee and even cooked dinner! Women there traditionally cook and serve food, do the dishes and do the cleaning. More women are going to work so it may get interesting. Anyway, with traditional roles comes "traditional" mistresses....from the Telegraph....

"Authorities at Camp Hope have had to deal with a rush of women coming forward claiming to be first in the Chilean miners' affections in order to receive government handouts.

At least five wives have been forced to come face to face with mistresses whose existence was kept from them by their husbands, who have been trapped more than 2,300ft below since a cave in on August 5.

One miner has four women fighting over him in an effort to claim compensation offered to the families of those facing between three to four months underground until a rescue shaft can reach them.

Government officials are considering asking the 33 trapped miners to name those they want to claim the benefits entitled to them in a bid to solve problems on the surface....

"Those that truly love their men have slipped away quietly not wanting to cause any more pain to the families but others are putting up a fight." Special welfare officers trained in marital issues have been brought in to provide help to women faced with their husband's infidelity.

One miner, who has not been named, has a first wife he never divorced, his live-in partner, a mother of a child he had several years ago, and a woman who claims to be his current girlfriend all visiting the camp."

The entire article here.

Marriage in Chile is complicated. There are at least four ways of getting married:

1) with joint property rights,

2) with separate rights,

3) the man owns it all or

4) the woman owns it all.

I think.

Perhaps because divorce wasn't legal, it is common for a couple to live as if married and never marry. You wouldn't know unless they were kind enough to tell you. But women in Chile don't change their name-although the children add their father's last name.So I believe it became popular to not bother with actual marriage.

Now divorce is legal. A friend there finally tracked down the husband that had been MIA for a couple years and had a divorce party. She proudly told me she was the first in her family to get a divorce. I asked her what her family thought and she said she had several female relatives that would like a divorce and were inspired by her!

And I told myself again, don't assume you understand Chile!