Between a rock and a hard place: Husband emerges to face warring women who had to be pulled apart
14th October 2010
Probably the bravest of all the 33 trapped miners was the one who asked for both his wife and his mistress to greet him on reaching the surface.
Yonni Barrios initially became known as the group’s ‘doctor’.
He used knowledge gained from looking after his diabetic mother to work with medical teams on the surface to diagnose and help the men trapped with him.
But very soon the 50-year-old miner became even better known for something rather less noble. His wife and another woman were both holding a vigil for him in Camp Hope.
Marta Salinas, 58, whom he married 28 years ago, reportedly almost came to blows with Susana Valenzuela, 50, when they faced off in the mine’s dining area. The pair had to be pulled apart.
According to Miss Salinas, Barrios had been dividing his time between the two women for the last couple of years. And it was Miss Valenzuela who broke the news to her that there had been an accident at the mine.
As his wife began to get involved in his affairs on Camp Hope, he instructed teams on the surface to deal with his lover instead.
Moments later Barrios, centre, was carried on a stretcher to the triage centre
And as the day of the rescue finally approached, he asked for both of them to wait for him as he emerged from the borehole.
‘He is either very cheeky or very idiotic,’ said a source within the rescue team. ‘He didn’t seem worried at all.’
In the end he was greeted by his mistress, his wife choosing to stay away. He emerged at 8:32pm UK time to be met by tearful Miss Valenzuela.
He looked calm as he gingerly walked towards his mistress, who gave him a long hug, crying on his shoulder and occasionally pulling back to look at him as if to make sure the reunion was really happening.
After he emerged, his wife, who has three sons from an earlier relationship, said she is over Barrios and did not feel ‘anything in particular’.
She said: ‘I watched it on television. I’m very pleased they are all coming out well.
‘I’m glad I didn’t go to the mine, it was the correct decision. It would have been wrong if the two of us were there – I have children and grandchildren. That kind of situation wouldn’t have been good for my family, and my sons come first.
‘He is crazy and cocky to think I would do such a thing. I have a sense of decency.’
She said she could tell Barrios was ‘holding back’ in the reunion, as his girlfriend held him tightly and cried.
‘I know she is impulsive, while he behaved properly. He knew I was going to be watching.’ She said she would not be visiting him at the hospital. ‘If he wants to see me or talk to me he can come find me. Otherwise we will talk through our lawyers.
‘I have his belongings and all these gifts people have sent him – he is welcome to have them.’
She said she is not bitter but had a parting shot for her husband and the other miners.
‘This is historic but soon it will be over to the next thing. People move on – in a few years everyone will have forgotten about this.
‘They think they will all be millionaires overnight but it’s not like that. Only the skillful ones will make something from this.’
Mr Barrios is thought not to be alone in his complex domestic arrangements.
According to reports, another Barrios – Carlos – who was rescued yesterday has a five-year-old son with a woman he has not divorced and his girlfriend of seven months is pregnant.
Another miner is said to have four women claiming his affections and perhaps soon-to-be-increased income – a wife he has not divorced, his current live-in girlfriend, a third woman who claims to have had his son and another who says she is having an affair with him.