Urgent Action Pasta de Conchos mine disaster

The urgent action can be sent online:
Recovery of the Pasta de Conchos miners
A covenant by the president Felipe Calderón within the scope of a constitutional audience
Prosecution of the culprits and associated human rights abuse
Compensation for bereaved families

Chronology of incidents:
On February 19, 2006, a huge explosion occurred in the Pasta de Conchos coalmine located in the North of Mexico (in the state of Coahuila)and buried 65 miners. The bereaved families have been fighting till today for the recovery of their beloved ones and for justice:
The mine had been classified as “secure” two weeks before the disaster by the responsible officers of the Department of Employment. One day before the disaster several worker had noticed that the methane content in the tunnel was too high which indicated a defect of ventilation. Therefore, the miners of the subsequent working shift had refused to go down into the tunnel, whereupon the employer had contested with a threat of dismissal.
Some hours afterwards occurred the grave explosion. The employer’s threat also had been quite efficient because of the fact that the miners’ majority were leased workers without union protection.

Industrial Minera México S.A(IMMSA),subsidiary of Grupo México, the biggest mining company in Mexico and the third largest producer of copper in the world, suspended rescue efforts five days after the explosion.
Subsequently occurred serious omissions:
The company did not provide reliable and timely information to the rescue teams such as updated digital maps, gas sensors, and communication signals to track the miners, nor installed seismic monitoring equipment to identify the precise location of the miners.
Thus the miners had been declared death, although there still existed a chance of survival as the example of the Chilean workers showed with whom they made first contact after 18 days.

The recovery is possible:
On account of an inspection of the since then sealed mine they could prove the technical feasibility of the recovery. The families themselves arranged the inspection of which they made a video recording that has been evaluated by experts.
Thereby could produce proof of the technical viability of the recovery.
The company oppose the feasibility of this project, because it is afraid of the line of evidences based on it, that could prove gross negligence.

After the announcement of the inspections’ results and the report about a feasible recovery they intended to murder Cristina Auerbach.
As human rights activist and member of the catholic labour pastoral she is in close contact with the families of the Pasta de Conchos miners to whom she renders legal assistance.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), that has been called in few month after the mine disaster, meanwhile (in 2009) confirmed the company’s as well as the government’s responsibility in the case. The company’s and state office’s response were completely insufficient and till today the ILO’s recommendation have not been implemented.

In Mexico the mining industry has a long tradition and promises a high profit margin. This is contrasted by the miners’ sad reality, who have to extract the precious mineral in a constant life-threatening situation. Without the recognition of their rights they have to look for a economic subsistence for them and their families.
Mine disasters resulting in death are part of their everyday life, as well as the culprits’ impunity and the disrespect of the bereaved families’ right.

The mine accident in Pasta de Conchos on February 19, 2006, is no exception, but illustrates a structural problem and the related injustices – extremely dangerous labour situation and the unprotectedness of the Mexican miners, as well as the mining companies’ impunity in cases of accident. Since the disaster in question have died 41 more miners. The incidents are similar:

Even if the Department of Employment orders the temporally closure of some mines for reasons of safety, the extraction is not disrupt or the adapted measure are insufficient.

Many workers do not have union protection or the union leadership collaborates with the company.
The prescribed rescue equipment, as well as the detailed documentation of risk factors are not provided. Finally, they deny the miners’ right to health insurance.

E-mail message:

“We request the recovery of the Pasta de Conchos miners’ remains now! Respect the families’ constitutional right to be heard by the President.
Pasta de Conchos ¡Rescate, ya! Audiencia constitucional a las familias”

Addresses to which messages should be sent:

Felipe Calderón: Felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx
Facebook: Felipe Calderon Hinojosa
Twitter: @Gob Fed. Oder @Presidencia Mx

With copy to the Pasta de Conchos miners’ families:
Sender: Carlos Rodríguez Rivera (CEREAL cereal@prodigy.net.mx )

In the meantime the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, as well as the Mexican Senate have affirmed their support. Yet they have not acceded to the demand for a constitutional audience with the president Felipe Calderón.

In this context, the international solidarity can put pressure.

The “constitutional audience” in Mexico describes a direct appellate of the civil society to demand the rule of law. It relays on the constitutional basic liberty of the individuals’ protection (in this case: the families of the casualties) against the states’ abuse.1
The following arguments corroborate the call for the constitutional audience:

The bodies of the casualties have not been recovered, although it is technically viable
All legal appeals of the families have been combated with the argument that they are not supposed to have legal capacity
Security inspections of the states’ authorities did not have been carried out legally compliant
Economic arrangements have been prepended to the moral demands of the families
Information about the feasibility of the recovery has been kept

The following official findings confirm the company’s and the government’s responsibility:

Two formal recommendations from the National Human Rights Committee (Recommendation 26/2006 and 64/2008).2
The ILO#s 2009 resolution in response to the complaint filed in 2006 (ILO: Ref.Bit/ILO ACD 19-0110; Report of the Director-General, 304th Session, GB. 304/14/8 Rev.)3

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