65 dead remembered as Cananea dispute continues


IMF joins striking miners in Cananea in remembering the 65 miners who died at the Grupo México mine in Pasta de Conchos on February 19, 2006.

MEXICO: Striking workers at the Grupo Mexico mine in Cananea will hold a minute of silence today, February 19, in memory of the 65 miners who died on this day four years ago at Pasta de Conchos.

The 65 miners were trapped underground on February 19, 2006 when a methane explosion occurred in the number eight shaft of the Pasta de Conchos mine owned by Grupo México in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. Many of the miners that died were members of the Mexican Miners' and Metalworkers' Union (SNTMMSRM). Immediately after the blast the Mexican government deployed army troops to guard the mine.

Only two bodies were recovered at the time of the incident. Today the United Steelworkers have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the families of the deceased coal miners in a U.S. federal court in Arizona seeking damages from Grupo México and related companies.

The lawsuit alleges Grupo México and the other corporate defendants failed and refused to take the necessary steps to prevent the disaster even though they were informed of unsafe conditions by the Mexican government and the miners themselves.

This tragic event precipitated and coincided with a series of actions that included the illegal removal of Gómez as the Mexican miners 'union's general secretary, continuing violence and intimidation of union members and leaders, including the killing of two striking workers in Lázaro Cárdenas, and Gómez' exile in Canada.

In addition, at Grupo México's massive copper mine at Cananea in the state of Sonora members of the Mexican miners' union began a strike in July 2007 over health and safety concerns at the mine.

The International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF), the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine, and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) and others condemned a decision by a Mexican appeals court last week on February 11 to allow the Grupo México mining company to fire the 1,200 striking workers and union members at its Cananea copper mine.

The IMF and ICEM is urging restraint  by the Mexican authorities fearing the court ruling will result in violence between armed Mexican troops and the miners.

IMF regional Representative Jorge Almeida has joined an international delegation in Cananea, today, to show solidarity support to the striking miners as they remember the dead at Pasta de Conchos.