Relatives of the victims of a mining accident 13 years ago at the Pasta de Conchos mine in Coahuila have pleaded for years that efforts be made to recover the bodies, but the mine’s owner has insisted that conditions are too dangerous to do so.
But with a new government in office, the relatives are getting some help.
Only two bodies were recovered after the 2006 explosion that killed 65 people at the Grupo México-owned coal mine. Now, the federal government says it intends to recover the rest.
President Lopez Obrador announced yesterday that he had ordered a recovery operation.
“We are willing to ask for forgiveness . . . in all cases of injustice. We cannot turn our backs on the pain of humanity. This is a humanist government. So we are going to carry out this action,” he said.
López Obrador said in February, on the 13th anniversary of the accident, that his government was open to conducting a recovery effort, observing that it might help reconcile the victims’ relatives with the company that owns the mine.
He said today that Grupo México CEO Germán Larrea Mota-Velasco wrote him to explain that the company had attempted unsuccessfully to recover the bodies, but agreed to help and collaborate in the new effort.
The National Human Rights Commission conducted an investigation at the site following the accident. It claimed that the human rights of the miners that died had been violated, and that government officials had allowed the mine to operate under unsafe conditions.
Almost one year after the accident, the widows of the miners won an injunction that gave them access to internal Grupo México documents, which revealed it had been operating the Pasta de Conchos mine under less than optimal security and safety conditions since at least the year 2000.
Fourteen state officials were suspended from their jobs in 2012 in relation to the case after they were accused of receiving bribes.
Grupo México is the country’s biggest mining company and the third biggest copper producer in the world.