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A monument to the miners was erected in Mexico City in 2018. A monument to the miners was erected in Mexico City in 2018.

Families of lost miners sign accord for ‘immediate’ start to recovery of bodies

Coal will be extracted from the mine site to help pay the recovery cost, estimated at US $75 million

The government will proceed immediately with the US $75-million recovery of the bodies of 63 miners who perished in a coal mine collapse in Coahuila in 2006.

It will also pay compensation of 3.7 million pesos (US $170,000) to the victims’ families before the end of the year year and place a monument to the victims at the accident site. Excavations are set to begin in January. 

The decision came Monday after President López Obrador met for a second time with the miner’s families. An initial meeting was held in late August when the government presented the offer of compensation and the placing of a monument dedicated to the memory of the lost miners. A decision whether to undergo the costly recovery process was left in their hands. 

After yesterday’s three-hour meeting, Alejandro Encinas, deputy minister of human rights, announced that the recovery will proceed and that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) will manage the operation.

It will also extract coal from the Pasta de Conchos mine during the excavation to help finance the recovery effort.

“The parties agree to immediately begin the rescue process through the Federal Electricity Commission. The families present give their consent for the CFE, once the rescue is completed, to extract the coal [to pay the cost],” the agreement between reads.

López Obrador is making good on a promise he made in 2019 to exhume the bodies of the miners, whose relatives have pleaded with the government since 2006 that the effort be made. 

For years mine owner Grupo México has insisted that conditions are too dangerous to make the attempt. 

However, family members suspect that the company did not want to conduct the search because poor and dangerous working conditions would be revealed, a suspicion supported by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Grupo México promised to hand over the title to the mine, located in San Juan de Sabinas, Coahuila, to the federal government in February at President López Obrador’s request. The president will visit the site on October 23 to supervise compliance with yesterday’s agreement.

“Grupo México expresses its wish that the efforts undertaken by the government are successful and translate into peace for the families,” the company said in a statement.

For those who lost a loved one in the blast, some closure is now in sight. “The rescue is going forward! Because it is our right to rescue the mortal remains of our relatives. Truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition,” a group representing families of the miners posted to their Facebook page yesterday after the agreement was reached. 

Source: El Universal (sp)

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