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Micaran mine collapse, Muzquiz, Coahuila Rescue workers during the last night of the search for bodies at the Micarán mine in Múzquiz, Coahuila, on Thursday.

Governor, electricity commission chief clash over Coahuila coal mine collapse

The state chief executive and CFE head hurled accusations of price rigging, neglect of mine safety

The director of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and the governor of Coahuila have clashed on Twitter over the partial collapse of a coal mine that killed seven miners earlier this month.

CFE chief Manuel Bartlett and Governor Miguel Riquelme blamed each other for the disaster at the Micarán mine in Múzquiz.

Bartlett acknowledged that Riquelme last week apportioned “moral responsibility” to him for the mine collapse, which occurred on June 4 after heavy rain, “for having lowered the price” the CFE pays for coal extracted in Coahuila.

“According to him, that caused the mining entrepreneurs to neglect the maintenance of their mines,” the CFE director wrote.

In another Twitter post, Bartlett asserted that Riquelme should have avoided the disaster by imposing safety measures at the mine through the Labor Ministry.

Governor of Coahuila Miguel Riquelme.
Governor of Coahuila Miguel Riquelme.

“Therefore, the person responsible for the lack of safety is Governor Miguel Riquelme,” he wrote.

The governor countered that mining — and therefore mine safety — is a federal responsibility rather than a state one.

“Mr. Manuel Bartlett, you should know better than anyone that mining and electricity are the exclusive purview of the federal government; state governments can only intervene on the request of federal authorities,” Riquelme wrote in a Twitter post that included an image of a relevant page of the constitution.

“Your ignorance is a very serious matter, and your shamelessness in allocating these responsibilities to those who don’t have legal authority over this sector is even more serious. #TheLiesOfBartlett,” the Institutional Revolutionary Party governor added.

Riquelme also accused Bartlett of provoking “a serious crisis in the coal mining region of Coahuila” that has left hundreds of families without income.

The CFE chief “has favored a few companies” for the state-owned utility’s coal purchases, he wrote.

Head of the Federal Electricity Commision (CFE) Manuel Bartlett
Head of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) Manuel Bartlett.

“From Tony Flores’ [companies], for example, the brother of then Morena party candidate now mayor-elect for the municipality of Múzquiz, [Tania Flores] … they’ve benefited from the purchase of more than two million tonnes [of coal] without a tendering process,” Riquelme wrote.

“Who allows and protects the coal monopoly? You or me?” the governor added, referring to a tweet Bartlett posted in which he accused Riquelme of “cynically protecting those who want to monopolize the purchase of coal, to the detriment of small producers.”

“Mr. Manuel Bartlett, as [federal] interior minister, the [vote-counting] system failed,” Riquelme wrote, referring to the 1988 presidential election won by Carlos Salinas amid widespread accusations of electoral fraud.

“As CFE director you invent fires to justify your blackouts. What lies will you come out with tomorrow?”

After a power blackout that affected over 10 million customers last December, the CFE claimed a wildfire in Tamaulipas was responsible and issued a document to support the claim. It later turned that the commission had forged the document, but it insisted nonetheless that the fire actually occurred. Bartlett dismissed the forgery as a minor issue.

With reports from El Universal and Reforma 

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