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The opposite of Death God and the Miracle in the Andes Sources: Alive by Piers Paul Read (1974; 2002). Harper Perennial Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado.

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Presentation on theme: "The opposite of Death God and the Miracle in the Andes Sources: Alive by Piers Paul Read (1974; 2002). Harper Perennial Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado."— Presentation transcript:

1 The opposite of Death God and the Miracle in the Andes Sources: Alive by Piers Paul Read (1974; 2002). Harper Perennial Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado (2006). Three Rivers Press.

2 Rugby not Soccer In the mid 1950’s Catholic parents in Montevideo, Uruguay invite the Irish Christian Brothers order to start a boy’s school. Stella Maris College 3 manly lessons of rugby Hard work and determination Selfless individual sacrifice for the greater good of the group or team Manly character: Self discipline and the ability to repress selfish desires for the greater moral good. “Football is a game which … requires that every player of the team shall sink his individuality and, like a part of a machine, work in concert with the other parts.” Quote from H. J. Wynyard p. 83

3 The “Old Christians” Rugby Club In 1965, Stella Maris alumni form the “Old Christians” rugby club, dedicated to playing rugby on Sunday afternoons. 1968, 1970: Old Christians are Uruguayan national champions 1971: Old Christians travel to Santiago, Chile and split games with the Chilean national team. 1972: plans were made for a rematch.

4 Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 Oct. 12, 1972: 45 passengers and crew board an American built Fairchild F-227 in Montevideo, Uruguay bound for Santiago, Childe. Most are members of the Old Christians Rugby Club, families, friends, or supporters. Bad weather forces the plane to land in Mendoza, Argentina. Oct. 13, (Friday) the plane takes off from Mendoza and crashes in Andes

5 Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 Why did it crash? Crew miscalculated position. Did Colonel Farradas fail to account for headwinds? (30 th Andes crossing) Was the plane at fault? Bad safety record of Fairchild F-227, but this plane almost new.

6 The crash Crew put the plane into an emergency climb Right wing sheared off by mountain, contacted plan and cut off tail section. Left wing sheared off, remaining fuselage hit a mountain side and tobogganed down at 200 knots Crash site: an unnamed peak (later called Cerro [Mt] Seler, also known as Glaciar de las Lágrimas or Glacier of Tears), located between Cerro Sosneado (Chile) and Tinguiririca Volcano (Argentina Fatalities: 12 died in crash; 5 died by next morning; 1 more on day 8 8 more died in avalanche on Oct. 29; low level attrition over next weeks.

7 Crash Site

8 Marcelo Perez: Team Captain Early leader: Organized rescue effort immediately after crash Organized “crews:” clean up crew, water making crew, medical crew, devised rationing scheme Midday meal – cup of wine, taste of jam Evening meal – piece of chocolate Overcame early division between “Old Christians” and Jesuit Sacred Hart alums.

9 Marcelo Perez: Demise Perez’s leadership waned Physical and spiritual reasons Parrado p. 111: “For Marcelo, the world was an orderly place, watched over by a wise and loving God who had promised to protect us. It was our job to follow his commandments, to take the sacraments, to love God and love others and Jesus had taught us.” … “When we heard the news that the search had been canceled, it must have felt to Marcelo like the earth beneath his feet had begun to crumble. God had turned His back, the world had been turned upside down...” Marcelo was killed in the avalanche on Oct. 29.

10 The “Cousins” As Perez leadership faded, increasingly a triumvirate of three cousins took over Adolfo “Fito” Strauch (first among equals) Eduardo Strauch Daniel Fernandez Parrado p. 117 “’The cousins,’ as well called them, gave us a strong stable center that prevented the group from disintegrating into factions…”

11 The cousins Cousins were alums of Stella Maris, former Old Christians players. Fito played for a rival rugby team in Montevido. Fito and Eduardo were knocked unconscious in initial crash and dazed for first few days. Fito invented the water-making devices using reflected sun to melt snow in large quantities. Marcelo assigned a team to tend and store water daily. Played important role in rescue efforts after avalanche. Parrado p. 67: “Fito would turn out to be one of the wisest and most resourceful of all the survivors.”

12 The cousins Cousins modified Perez’s original “social order” Cousins took responsibility for initial “butchering” of dead corpses A second team would cut large scraps of meat into smaller strips. Cousins supervised rationing of food Other “teams” remained intact, except for later “expeditionary” teams created

13 The Medical Crew Roberto Canessa, 2 nd year medical student (19years old – Canessa was never fully reigned in by either Perez or the cousins) Gustavo Zerbino (1 year med school) Liliana Methol (35yrs. no direct connection to Old Christians. 12 th wedding anniversary trip to Chile with husband Javier; killed in avalanche).

14 Roberto Canessa Considered the “chief” doctor Important role in initial hours after crash Devised hammocks for injured Made both medical and theological arguments for eating human flesh; first to cut and eat. Along with Nando Parrado was “expeditionary” trekked out of mountains Wielded considerable influence but was never considered a leader. Why not? Roberto was something of a “head” case! Parrado p. 120 “…the brightest, most difficult, most complicated character on the mountain.” Son of the most prominent cardiologist in Montevideo Egotistical, rebellious, refused to give up his horse! Disobeyed coaches, nicknamed “muscles,” tough-minded, stubborn, impatient, but strong sense of responsibility. Roberto could act like a bully, but was not a bully, he was the real deal, a truly tough S.O.B.

15 The “Lieutenants” Second echelon of power. Hung close to and conveyed orders of the cousins Carlitos Paez Pedro Algorta Gustavo Zerbino Paez also served as ritual leader; nightly rosary.

16 Expeditionaries: A separate caste Fernando “Nando” Parrado Roberto Canessa Antonio Vizintin “tintin” Numa Turcatti Excused from work crews, given extra rations, best sleeping spots, prayers offered on their behalf. Before final expedition Turcatti injured, then dies. Tintin sent back early in final expedition. Then there were two: Parrado and Canessa.

17 Nando Parrado Knocked into a coma in crash, thought dead (putting him outside may have saved his life!). Unconscious first three days. Mother, sister, best friend died in crash (sister after a few days). Most insistent on trekking out of mountains. Became leader of expeditionaries. Most popular, well-liked, respected person among crash survivors. Motivated by love of father. P. 201 “In my despair, I felt a sharp and sudden longing for the softness of my mother and my sister, and the warm strong embrace of my father. My love for my father swelled in my heart, and I realized that, despite the hopelessness of my situation, the memory of him filled me with joy. It staggered me: The mountains, for all their power, were not stronger than my attachment to my father. The could not crush my ability to love. … Death has an opposite, but the opposite is not mere living. It is not courage or faith or human will. The opposite of death is love. “

18 Workers: sometimes parasites (“slackers”) Cleanup crew was lowest caste in social system, made up of the youngest boys. Originally Marcelo put Gustavo “Coco” Nicolich in charge (note: both Marcelo and Coco killed in avalanche). Slackers/workers; workers/slackers Roy Harley; Carlitos Paez, Jose “Coche” Inciarte; Diego Storm (killed in avalanche) Bobby Francois; Alvaro Mangino Occasionally, resentments against parasites would flare up, but it never went too far “we understood, intuitively, that no one in this awful place could be judged by the standards of the ordinary world” (Parrado, p. 89)

19 The Hardest Choice Parrado p. 93: “One morning near the end of our first week in the mountains, I found myself standing outside the fuselage, looking down at the single chocolate- covered peanut I cradled in my palm. Our supplies had been exhausted, this was the last morsel of food I would be given, and with a sad, almost miserly desperation I was determined to make it last. On the first day, I slowly sucked the chocolate off the peanut, then I slipped the peanut into the pocket of my slacks. On the second day I carefully separated the peanut halves, slipping one half back into my pocket and placing the other half into my mouth. I sucked gently on the peanut for hours, allowing myself only a tiny nibble now and then. I did the same on the third day, and when I’d finally nibbled the peanut down to nothing, there was no food left at all.”

20 The Hardest Choice Late night conversation, Nando Parrado and Carlitos Paez (Parrado p.96) NP: We are going to starve here. I don’t think the rescuers will find us in time. CP: You don’t know that. NP: I know it and you know it. But I will not die here. I will make it home. CP: Are you still thinking about climbing out of here? Nando, you are too weak. NP: I am weak because I haven’t eaten. CP: But what can you do? There is no food here. NP: There is food. You know what I mean. Carlitos shifted in the darkness but said nothing. NP: I will cut meat from the pilot. He’s the one who put us here, maybe he will help us get out. CP: [expletive] Nando. NP: There is plenty of food here. But you must think of it only as meat. Our friends don’t need their bodies anymore. Carlitos sat silently for a moment before speaking CP: God help us. I have been thinking the very same thing.

21 The Hardest Choice Oct. 22: Discussion before the decision (p Alive; 96-7 Miracle) Canessa: medical argument – our bodies are consuming ourselves Fito: high altitude increases energy demands Canessa, Fito, Zerbino: its our only hope. Theological argument – the moral obligation to survive. Eating their friends was like communion Marcelo: What have we done that God would now require us to eat the dead bodies of our friends? Liliana Methol: As long as there is chance for rescue, I could not. Others: OK for others, but I can’t; Could God forgive us? Canessa: The souls of dead are gone. They are only meat. Zerbino: If I die and you do not use my body to help you live, I’m gonna come back and kick your [expletive]. Concludes with affirmation and pact: Any who die from here on grant permission to survivors to consume them.

22 The Hardest Choice p. 81 in Alive At last a group of four – Canessa, Maspons, Zerbino and Fito Strauch – rose and went out into the snow. … With no exchange of words, Canessa knelt, bared the skin, and cut into the flesh with a piece of broken glass. … he … cut away twenty slivers the size of matchsticks. He then stood up, went back to the plane, and placed them on the roof. Inside there was silence. The boys cowered in the Fairchild. Canessa told them … the meat was … on the roof, drying in the sun, and … those who wished … should come out and eat it. No one came… Canessa took it upon himself to prove his resolution. He prayed to God to help him… [but] the horror of the act paralyzed him. His hand would neither rise to his mouth nor fall to his side while the revulsion which possessed him struggled with his stubborn will. The will prevailed. The hand rose and push the meat into his mouth. … He was going to survive.

23 The Church’s Judgment After their rescue, the survivors where taken to St. John of God hospital in San Fernando, Chile. Upon hearing that the survivors had sustained themselves on human flesh, the doctors called in Fr. Andres Rojas, from the parish of nearby parish of San Fernando Rey. As the survivors explained to Fr. Rojas what they had done, a few asked for the sacrament of reconciliation. Fr. Rojas rejected their request, not because they could not be forgiven but because they had committed no sin. Church doctrine affirms that anthropophagy in extremis (eating the bodies of the dead under extreme circumstances) was permissible. A few days later a Uruguayan Jesuit theologian from Catholic University in Santiago Chile (Fr. Rodriguez) affirmed this judgment to a gathering of survivors and their families. He did however, disclaim any strict connection between communion and anthropophagy. Eucharist is not equal to a dead, soulless body, even though one might draw a connection between Christ sacrificing his body for others and dead giving their bodies so others might live Fr. Andres Rubio (Aux. Archbishop of Montevideo), “communion” best describes the inspiration behind their action, but not the action itself.

24 The last expedition On the morning of Dec. 12, Parrado, Canessa, and Vizintin set out to the west (they misunderstood their location) on the final expedition. It was the 8 th expedition, last only because it was successful. In three days they neared the summit of Mt. Seler (named by Parrado), over 15,000 ft high (note: Alive p. 395, 13,500) Canessa: road to the east Parrado: up over the summit Vizintin: whatever P&C decide Delay: Parrado to the summit and report back Parrado sees valley to summits not covered in snow Decision: send Vizintin back, but which way to go? The next morning Canessa relents: Parrado p. 203 “Roberto stood before me. I saw the fear in his eyes, but I also saw courage and I instantly forgave him all the weeks of arrogance and bullheadedness. … “You and I are friends, Nando, he said. “We have been through so much. Now let’s go die together. “

25 Last expedition: Day by day Day 7: descent into the valley Day 8: trees and soup can (Parrado p. 217) Canessa: People have been here. Parrado: …maybe it fell from a plane Canessa: You stupid [expletive]. Airplane windows don’t open. They find cow dung Canessa: Do you want to explain how cow [expletive] might have fallen from a plane? Parrado: Keep walking. When we find a farmer, then I’ll get excited. Gallows humor – they are slowly dying of exhaustion. Day 9: Canessa is overcome by exhaustion and diarrhea. P. 219: “I took his pack and set off down the path, giving him no choice but to follow. He fell behind quickly, but I kept an eye on him. He was hunched over, limping and in great discomfort and suffering with every step. “Don’t give up muscles,” I whispered to myself… He was forcing himself forward now though stubbornness and the sheer power of his will.

26 “I see a man” Day 9 early evening. Canessa spots a man on a horse in the distance. Their shouts are drown out by the rushing of nearby river. Parrado falls to his knees and begs the man for help. Sergio Catalan: “Tomorrow”

27 Postscript: March 2005 Arturo Nogueira’s last letter “… Life is hard, but it is worth living. Even suffering. Courage” “Excuse me, good man,” … “but we are lost again. Can you help us out one more time?”


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