Within the framework of the 12 years since the tragedy of the Pasta de Conchos mine in the coal region of Coahuila in Mexico, on 18th February 2018 representatives of the Family Organisation Pasta de Conchos presented the report "Red coal in Coahuila: here ends the silence", in Mexico City. This publication, supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, tells "the story of the human and environmental cost that the extraction of coal has brought and left" in this northern region of the country; it also documents the struggle that the family members of the 65 miners who lost their lives 12 years ago in the mine have undertaken.
12 years fighting for justice and adequate working conditions
According to the report presented, over 3,000 workers have lost their lives in explosions or other accidents in the mines of Coahuila since 1990. The documentation that the Family Organisation Pasta de Conchos has undertaken gives evidence that the working conditions in coal extraction puts the integrity and lives of the workers at risk. This situation has lead the Family Organisation Pasta de Conchos to work defending the rights of miners and their families, encouraging the companies to change the ways in which they extract coal or to strengthen their security and hygeine measures.
At this event, the importance of the work that Pasta de Conchos has done to shed light on the environmental and health impacts of coal mining in Mexico was highlighted. At the end of the event the family members of the victims of the explosion and human rights defenders reiterated their demand that the remains of the 63 victims from the tragedy of the Pasta de Conchos mine be rescued and that their families and communities recieve reparations.
The Pasta de Conchos case reaches the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
The Pasta de Concho case, presented in 2010 before the IACHR, was admitted on 24th February 2018 by the regional tribunal. In a public pronouncement, the Family Ogranisation Pasta de Conchos and Centro ProDH indicated that "the admission of the case by the IACHR represents an historic advance for the families in their search for truth, justice and reparations, starting with the rescue of the remains of their family members".
The IACHR decided to analyse the case also from the perspective of the impacts on the economic, social and cultural rights which will "open the door to eventual recommendations to the State that will have a positive impact for workers, as well as the opening of routes for justice and truth for the family members of the 63 trapped miners".
Concerns about the coal region
The Family Organisation Pasta de Conchos continues to carry out their work in the coal region of Coahuila, identified in 2013 as an isolated area which accentuates the risk for human rights defenders. Also, due to the work that members of this organisation carry out in defense of the territory, the situation of risk continues to be high, as shown by the constant threats and attacks they receive.
After the publication of the report "Red coal in Coahuila: here ends the silence", members of PBI once again accompanied the human rights defender Cristina Auerbach, director of the Family Organisation Pasta de Conchos, in her activities in Coahuila. PBI met with various governmental authorities at a municipal, state and federal level in order to talk about the situation of risk that human rights defenders are living through in the region. PBI reiterated the importance of the work of human rights defenders and the concerns that the international community has in this respect.