Target: The President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto
Goal: Help everyone who was injured by a disastrous mine spill along the Bacanuchi and Sonora Rivers in Mexico.
The Buenavista del Cobre copper mine spilled 11 million gallons of toxic chemicals, affecting over 200 miles of the Sonora River Basin. Grupo Mexico told the Mexican government that they would be responsible for fixing the disaster. It is considered one of the worst environmental disasters in Mexico’s history. Officials claim that the river is now safe but considering that cleanup crews have only gone about 19 miles from the source of the spillage, this is unlikely.
Grupo México originally said that the spill had been caused by heavy rains, but evidence from the Mexico Ministry of the Environmental and Natural Resources shows that this was not possible. Grupo México also did not immediately report the issue to the government and attorney Luis Miguel Cano said that “the company had been operating with negligence.”
Why is the government trusting a company with a history of negligence to be responsible for the cleanup? Grupo México won’t even say where they got the “clean” water that they gave to affected people–as one resident said, “At first we thought we were safe because Grupo México brought us water in jugs and trucks. But after consuming that water we started to have health problems.”
Dear President Enrique Peña Nieto,
Please don’t forget about the people of the Sonora River Basin. As one local farmer said, “Those people who say that everything is going well, they should come and milk a cow every day. They say it’s clean? They should come and drink a glass of milk from those cows. We drink it because we have no other choice.”
Your citizens should not have to feel this way. It’s easy for everyone else to forget about a disaster after the initial shock has blown over but the people who have been affected are going to continue to be affected. Do not let Grupo México brush off their responsibilities. They do not have a good history of transparency and responsibility; honest oversight is continuously needed.
The Río Sonora Basin Committees are filing lawsuits against both Grupo México and your government. Use this as an opportunity to reform Mexican environmental laws and help your citizens. This is an important time in the world for environmental matters because we are aware of the serious problems that come with non-sustainable practices and pollution, but we have yet to change to consistently sustainable resources. Do not add to the environmental issues that your country already faces by brushing off the complaints of the Sonora River people. Their livelihoods and their actual lives have been seriously affected by this disaster.
It is a common sentiment that you can judge a person’s character by how they treat those who are not important to them. It does not come with a clause saying “but it doesn’t count if you are powerful or a president.” I do not think that the sentiment should be forgotten and it is quite relevant to this environmental disaster. The Sonoran River locals are not especially powerful but they are still important. Grupo México is rich and powerful and they absolutely have the means to fix the lives of those that they hurt through their own negligence. I write to you instead of Grupo México because I don’t think that Grupo México truly cares about the situation. They have lied and lied again, according to the people of the Sonoran River. Please help the locals achieve justice.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jon Cox