An open pit mine near the community of Carrizalillo in Mexico was polluting the water and increasingly damaging the health of miners and residents. In 2012, delegates from Carrizalillo presented this severe health damage to the International People’s Court of Health, with the help of Source International. GoldCorp paid $50 million in damages to the community of Carrizalillo for misuse of land and pollution. This money was used to improve local infrastructure.
An open pit mine near the community of Carrizalillo in Mexico was polluting the water and increasingly damaging the health of miners and residents. The water of the Mazcala River that the community consumed was contaminated with aluminum, arsenic, iron, manganese, nickel and lead as it passed through the mine. Some of the most common health problems were premature births, skin pigmentation, respiratory damage and eye damage. Some families benefited from leasing their land to GoldCorp - but some of these families were already using 100% of this income to pay for medications and treatments for conditions caused by the mine’s pollution.
Since 2007, the Carrizalillo ejido (communal farmland) has had a group of community promoters that organize the land on behalf of the community, and prepare information that will be used in annual negotiation with GoldCorp mining company. When residents of Carazillo joined members of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining to present health damages caused by the mine to the International People’s Court of Health, Source International worked with four promoters to collect and analyze health damage data from members of the community to present.
Together, we documented cases of health damage caused by the mine, and performed laboratory tests to identify possible cases of heavy metal poisoning. We also helped residents of Carrizalillo who wished to present their cases in person as they prepared materials to share their experiences. We informed residents of our results in public spaces so they could use it to organize and get involved.
We took samples from every family in Carrizalillo because the number of severe cases was extremely high. We found that the health damage that GoldCorp caused was both widespread and severe. We faced some challenges while measuring the health of the community. Initially there was a list of more than 40 people who were willing to take blood tests, but as the days went by many of them gave up because, according to people's comments, the company threatened to fire miners with relatives who participated in the analysis or provided their testimony.
At the same time, we invited Gustavo Lozano, head of REMA, who guided the Mexican delegation to Guatemala to the TPIS event, to visit the community and invite the population to participate in the event. Lozano held meetings with the community members of Carrizalillo. We were also joined by Dr. Juan Almendarez, who has extensive experience in health damage caused by mining. He helped us improve clinical records, and worked with the doctor of the community. He also guided health promoters in the community.
Health promoters and members of the organization Integral Processes for the Self-Management of Peoples (PIAP) prepared the presentation for the court.
In July 2012, members of the Mesoamerican Movement Against the Mining Extractive Model (M4) presented these damages to the International People’s Court of Health in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala. They reported damages that GoldCorp caused in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. The people of Carrizalillo and members of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining were delegates of Mexico.
Because of our studies and negotiations, the mining company was obliged to pay $50 million over five years as compensation to the community of Carrizalillo (Guerrero). The compensation was for the misuse of the land and the pollution. It was used to improve local infrastructure.
The participation of people from Carrizalillo was very important to the case because they verified the great similarity in the damages that communities in Guatemala and Honduras also experienced. They also reflected on the health impact of living so close to the mine compared to the other communities, and how in just five years, there is already more serious damage than in communities that were further away.