The city of Tijuana is located in the state of Baja California, Mexico. Neighboring San Deigo, Tijuana is home to the San Ysidro border crossing the 4th busiest land crossing in the world.
In Tijuana, EHC works mostly in the neighborhoods surrounding Arroyo Alamar, with a focus on the communities of Chilpancingo and Murua. The residents who live there are largely migrants from other parts of Mexico. Many of them work in the maquiladora industry.
Originally named for its geographic location in Colonia Chilpancingo, the “Chilpancingo Collective” was EHC’s Community Action Team in Tijuana. It includes a youth club. It is now the Colectivo Salud y Justica Ambiental, a civil association that was established in 2018 to act as Colectivo’s legal body in Mexico.
The more than 45,000 people who live in Chilpancingo and Murua have paid with their health for the industrial development of the region. In these communities factories, homes, and schools are all close together. This means residents have immediate exposure to the toxic pollution created by the maquiladoras and the heavy-duty truck traffic that travels on the roads that serve them.
Community Leader Fighting Back
Few people know the Alamar River the way Ana Langarica and her sons do. The Alamar River has suffered decades of human and industrial harm but continues to be an important connection to nature for all of Tijuana and in particular for nearby residents. Ana and her son’s knowledge and care for the stream were inspired by their organizing work with the Environmental Health Coalition.
Ana models for her sons a deep commitment to the environment and their community. She proudly represents her community in meetings with government agencies and partner organizations in a quest to protect the Alamar for her family and future generations.
Victories & Impacts
Toxic Waste Site Clean Up
After more than a decade of organizing and advocacy led by EHC, members of the Colectivo and the Mexican government signed a historic agreement to clean up the toxic waste site that Metales y Derivados Factory left behind within five years. This established the first cross-border structure and collaboration between governments (USA and Mexico) and the community to clean up a toxic site. The cleanup was completed in 2008, ahead of schedule.
2009 – 2011
No More Diesel Polluting Trucks Driving by Schools
EHC and Colectivo members conducted a study in Chilpancingo and Murúa that determined the children in the neighborhoods’ schools were exposed to dangerous amounts of diesel pollution that could cause serious conditions like asthma and cancer. In 2011, EHC and Colectivo members succeeded in getting the Tijuana government to put up signs restricting the passage of heavy-duty trucks in front of community schools.
2011 – 2015
Saving Arroyo Alamar
Starting in 2011, EHC/collective began a campaign to save what remained of the Alamar River from becoming a polluted concrete cannel. Thanks to this effort, in 2015, the federal government and the State of Baja California signed an agreement to implement a project that ensures sustainable management of the Alamar riparian forest where nature still flourishes.
Co-Authored Community Mapping Paper
Members of Colectivo co-authored a paper, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, that analyzed how the community-mapping process influenced the community planning process by identifying key environmental risks. You can read the paper here.