Ana Maria Salazar. Mexico City. With the environmental disaster in Sonora last week, critics of the energy reform already have an example that demonstrates the inability of the State to the greed of the multinationals.
What happened on August 6 in Sonora, when Grupo Mexico, administrator of a copper mine, shed 40 thousand cubic meters of sulfuric acid in the Sonora River, one of the most important agricultural regions of the country, is similar to what happened in Canada two days earlier. But the reaction of the state and national authorities is different.
On August 4, a dike of the Mount Polley mine Imperial Metal Corp. broke, a toxic solution and heavy metals were pouring into rivers and lakes Polley, Quesnel and the Hazeltine stream. According to press reports, the Canadian authorities declared a state of emergency, banned all water activities. Ecologists pointed out that “heavy metals will be for years in the food, animal and vegetable chain, while mercury and cadmium remain in circulation for decades.” Shares of the company fell 38 percent to 483 million dollars worth of the company. Four days after the accident, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of Imperial B to CCC +.
In Sonora the National Water Commission has declared emergency in Cananea, six municipalities and the Sonoran capital, Hermosillo. And although authorities said the negligence of Grupo Mexico to immediately report what happened to Civil Protection, it’s enough to be fined at least a million pesos -which could possibly be the only fine that the company will recieve.
But in a statement of “relevant events” that has by law to publish any company listed on the bag, cynically states that “the company once it became aware of this incident, immediately proceeded to build a retaining wall to prevent the spill to continue. The containment works were completed in less than 24 hours. At the same time, Buenavista del Cobre, serving protocols, informed the Ministry of Environment and other state authorities about the mishap. On 8 August, the company issued a statement to various media in Sonora.” The cynicism of this release is endless. Not only this information from “relevant events” was published in the bag six days after the event, allowing any type of insider trading and selling shares insider information before the disaster, but also hints that the company took steps were appropriate in a timely manner, which quite simply is not true. There are several reports that an intern who was working in the area was the one who gave the information to the authorities when he realized the disaster.
The company is lying, but unlike Canada, the impact on their actions has been minimal. Perhaps for lack of information, perhaps because the company is lying, or just plain investors know that a disaster of this nature in Mexico do not affect a company financially by impunity. And the impact will be felt in the health and economy of the Sonoran families for the years to come.
Why are my comments so sharp? Because my family, for three generations have been Sonoran ranchers who were affected by the absolute neglect and cynicism of this company.
Mr. President: you just have signed the secondary energy reform laws seeking to transform Mexico. Do not make the mistake of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, as The Economist points out, that the benefits of recent reforms are not shared with all Mexicans, “as former reforms were discredited because their benefits only were used by few. ”
Do not let history to compare you with Carlos Salinas de Gortari. If national and transnational companies are not afraid to state regulators and if there are no consequences for misbehaving (pollute, steal, defraud, intimidate, etc.) will happen which the governor of California, Jerry Brown, warned during his visit to Mexico when the government recommended the Congress to have ”Iron Fist” to regulate oil companies that come to invest ‘or they are going to eat us alive.’ Mr. President, if you fail to follow these tips, this country will be owned and run by the currupt and criminals.