From the September-October 2020 issue of News & Letters
Mexico City—When miners at any of Grupo México’s mines have attempted to organize independent unions to demand decent wages and safe working conditions, the company has responded with strike-breaking thugs. Often they are aided by state officials and the Federal Army.
Grupo México, the largest Mexican-owned mining company, has been operating a criminal enterprise for decades. It has exploited the sweated labor of mine workers to enrich its stockholders.
65 MINERS LEFT DEAD
Grupo México has disregarded health and safety, causing dozens of deaths and untold injuries from avoidable “accidents,” including the 2006 killing of 65 miners at the Pasta de Conchos mine in Coahuila. It has contaminated water and soil, including a massive spill of sulfuric acid in the Rio Sonora.
Grupo México in numerous states has refused to clean up contaminated smelting sites. “A Monument to Dehumanization and Barbarism” is the term used to describe one such site in Ciudad Juárez.
Against the criminality that owner Germán Larrea and his company have been engaged in, a growing resistance has arisen. The families of the miners killed at Pasta de Concho have been demanding the removal of their loved ones from the mine. Germán Larrea again and again refused to do so, claiming it is too dangerous, and only recently has supposedly agreed to it.
Wives and children of miners from Grupo México’s Buenavista del Cobre copper mine, who have been on strike for 13 years, have been blocking a main highway and a railroad line in Sonora, demanding that President López Obrador meet with them and force Germán Larrea, who they identified as “a murderous businessman,” to negotiate with the miners’ union to settle the strike.
HISTORIC DESPOILING OF RIVERS
The Rio Sonora Contamination was the greatest environmental disaster of the mining industry in Mexico, when the Buenavista del Cobre mine spilled 40 million liters of sulfuric acid and 700 tons of heavy metals into the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers.
The consequences to these bodies of water, the ecosystem and the inhabitants continue to this day because the company failed to comply with commitments to care for those affected, especially in seven municipalities: Arizpe, Banámichi, Huepac, San Felipe de Jesús, Aconchi, Baviácora and Ures.
In response the communities have formed The River Sonora Watershed Committee. On the sixth anniversary of the ecological disaster, they have continued to confront Grupo México and issue statements of demands the communities insist be met.