The Buenavista mine in Cananea is one of the largest and most important copper mines in the western hemisphere. Cananea is well known throughout Mexico as one of the birthplaces of the Mexican Revolution. In 1906 miners went on strike against the U.S. owner of the Cananea mine, demanding an end to the dual wage system that favored U.S. workers. The strike was violently repressed. This event crystallized mass discontent with President Porfirio Diaz, and helped to create the groundswell of popular opinion that culminated in the Revolution of 1910.
The militancy of Canaea's miners thus has a proud history. Today's mining union, Section 65 of the Mexican Mineworkers and Metallurgical Workers (los MIneros) was founded in 1934. The union was effective in producing benefits not only for workers but for the entire community, including a modern hospital, universal access to health care, and recreational facilities for all.
But in 1988 the Buenavista mine was privatized--sold by the Mexican government to the company that has since become Grupo Mexico, owner of ASARCO. Grupo Mexico immediately set out to destabilize and weaken the union. They dismantled health and safety protections in the mine and closed the community hospital. The Mineros responded by going on strike.
This article, about the struggle of the Mexican Miners Union against Grupo Mexico and the Mexican government, is reprinted by permission of Dollars and Sense.
This report was written by our solidarity delegation to Cananea, sponsored by the United Association for Labor Education.
Find a film by Howard Kling, a member of the solidarity delegation, here.
David Bacon’s website of articles and photographs, many about Cananea
Publications by the Maquiladora Health and Safety Support Network about health and safety conditions at the Cananea mine.