Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein will travel from Tucson, Arizona to Cananea, Sonora on Friday morning, March 11, 2016, to meet with the families of striking miners and local residents impacted by environmental and workers’ rights abuses at the Buena Vista mine. The mine is owned by Grupo Mexico, the world’s third largest copper mine company, with operations in Mexico, the United States, Peru and Spain. In August, 2014, 10.5 million gallons of sulfuric acid produced by the Buena Vista mine spilled from a mining waste pond into the Sonora River, turning a 40-mile stretch of the waterway orange as it ran downstream towards Arizona.
This was the largest environmental disaster in Mexico’s history. Workers at the mine had warned the company about problems with the dam holding the sulfuric acid in the waste pond, but their concerns had been ignored.
Members of Los Mineros miners union have been on strike since 2006 over working conditions and threats posed by the mine to the health of employees and the local community. Grupo Mexico has brought in replacement workers, but they have not been able to break the strike.
Unsafe conditions at another Grupo Mexico mine in the Mexican state of Coahuila caused a methane gas explosion in 2006 that buried 65 miners. Their bodies still have not been recovered.
Grupo Mexico also has a track record of labor and environmental abuses in the US. At the ASARCO mine just south of Tucson, Grupo Mexico is refusing to negotiate in good faith with the United Mine Workers and other unions representing workers. Grupo Mexico has also created 20 different superfund sites.
Stein noted, “Predatory environmental and labor practices occur on both sides of the border. But protections are notoriously weak outside the US, where the health and security of working people are under especially intense attack. This is a major driver of the immigration crisis. To address this crisis, we must end the harmful policies that have turned so many people into refugees, including NAFTA and other free trade agreements, the war on drugs, and US military interventions and CIA-supported coups. And we must end human rights and environmental abuses by multinational corporations that put profit over people, planet and peace.”