A recommendation from the CNDH recognized the “persistent violations” of human rights by Grupo México and various agencies of the federal government ten years after the spill of toxic substances in the Sonora River.

MEXICO CITY (apro).– Communities surrounding the Sonora River, contaminated for ten years by a spill of toxic substances caused by the Buenavista del Cobre mine, owned by Grupo México, urged authorities to comply with the recommendation issued by the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH), which recognizes the “persistent violations of the human right to a healthy environment, access to drinking water, and people’s health.”

After the publication of recommendation 50/2024, addressed to the heads of the ministries of Environment and Natural Resources, Economy and Health, as well as the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, the National Water Commission, the IMSS- Bienestar and the governor of Sonora, the Rio Sonora Basin Committees (CCRS) recognized that, “although late,” the organization’s recommendation “is an important step in the search for justice,” since it points out the responsibility of Grupo México in the tragedy and the omissions of the federal authorities and the government of Sonora.

In a statement, the communities organized in the CCRS recognized the work of the CNDH for reopening the complaint file in 2024, after the persistence of complaints from residents of non-compliance with compensation measures since 2016, since the complaint that was initially integrated in 2014 , the same year as the spill, was closed after “alleged actions carried out between the government of Mexico and Grupo México.”

Regarding “the worst environmental disaster in the history of mining in Mexico,” as the toxic spill into the Sonora River, coming from the Buenavista del Cobre mine, was cataloged, the CCRS highlighted the CNDH’s effort to warn that the obligated authorities to respond “they have not coordinated among themselves to work, when it is their responsibility to do so; “They have failed to fulfill their responsibility, and have not implemented adequate preventive, administrative, or reparation measures for anyone in the region.”

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The affected communities highlighted that, after the delivery of the recommendation, the authorities that remain reluctant to comply with it are Conagua and IMSS-Bienestar, that is, “almost two six-year terms have passed and the authorities continue without taking effective measures to guarantee our rights. while the responsible company remains unpunished.”

The CCRS explained that, almost 10 years after the events, the balance is that “heavy metals persist in the blood, which continue to accumulate due to persistent contamination in water, air and soil; a hospital in black work; medical appointments at a Specialty Hospital without toxicologists, environmental health specialists or laboratories for heavy metal analysis; tanks storing water from contaminated wells; and there are no plans or commitments for the 36 water treatment plants to operate in the long term.”

They state that in the case of Conagua, the response “is in the same line as its actions for years, in which it has denied expeditious and transparent access to official documents and has protected the interests of the company responsible,” while IMSS – Bienestar alleges that “it did not exist as an institution at the time of the spill, omitting that, as a substitute authority, it has the current duty to protect the population and that it has recently assumed commitments at dialogue tables with the communities.”

The recommendation issued on March 13 recognized that “the remediation and repair actions, both for the affected communities and in environmental terms, that some authorities claim to have carried out are insufficient or non-existent.”

The inhabitants of the region affected by the contamination of the Sonora River applauded that the public human rights body identified “the responsibility of Grupo México in this serious disaster, and points out that the company has the obligation to remedy and repair the persistent damage.” for which the “authorities have the duty to guarantee that it does so through legal mechanisms.”

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For the CCRS, it is of enormous value that the CNDH has concluded that “the lack of due diligence on the part of the mining company to prevent and address the spill has generated multiple violations of our human rights and impacts on the environment.”

The CCRS urged the authorities to comply with the recommendations to “coordinate and work to comply with the Remediation Program,” as well as to “guarantee specialized medical care, access to drinking water, and achieve remediation and full restitution in accordance with national and international standards.” international in environmental matters.

In addition, the CNDH recommended the preparation of a “diagnosis regarding the prospects and progress in the remediation of the Sonora River”, to carry out actions in the short, medium and long term, while it is up to Semarnat to launch “a mechanism between institutions that have the direct participation of the affected population,” according to the protection granted to the CCRS by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.

The recommendation instructed the authorities to verify that the extractive activities in the municipality of Cananea by Grupo México “do not contribute additional pollution to bodies of water, soil and air in the carrying out of their processes”, in particular those of leaching, residual discharges , management of hazardous waste and operation of tailings dams.

Likewise, Conagua was called upon to “implement actions regarding the hoarding of 57% of water in the area by Grupo México.”

The CCRS recognized the work of the CNDH for promptly pointing out the responsibilities of the company and the authorities, which is why they insisted on calling on them to accept the recommendations, creating working groups to coordinate among themselves and with the communities, respecting “the agreements that have been made on the Justice Plan for Cananea-Río Sonora.”

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