Chilpancingo EHC

Las comunidades de la Colonia Chilpancingo, Murúa, y Nueva Experanza comparten muchos de los problemas que se ven en las comunidades de color en San Diego: viviendas de calidad inferior, escuelas con sobre cupo, falta de servicios sociales, trabajos mal pagados, industrias contaminantes mezcladas con sitios residenciales y comerciales, transito de camiones industriales, falta de parques y tiendas de comida saludable, y contaminación del aire severa. Estas comunidades también están a un costado del parque más grande de la industria maquiladora de Tijuana.

Trucks at kindergarten

La EHC eligió trabajar en estos barrios de Tijuana por el disparo de los problemas de contaminación después de la aprobación del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN) en 1994 y el crecimiento de la industria de la maquiladora.

Aunque falta información económica y demográfica comprensiva acerca de estos barrios, la información disponible muestra que 67% de las casas tiene piso de tierra, 66% no tienen agua potable, y 33% no tienen drenaje. Dos adultos trabajando tiempo completo en la industria de la maquila, la fuente principal de ingreso, sólo cubren dos terceras partes de los gastos básicos de una familia de cuatro.

El TLCAN y la Comisión para la Cooperación Ambiental: la Comisión para la Cooperación Ambiental (CCA) fue creada por TLCAN para abordar preocupaciones ambientales. Aunque la autoridad de la Comisión es limitada, la EHC ha podido exitosamente utilizar uno de sus mecanismos disponibles – Petición Ciudadana – para asegurar la limpieza del sitio de Metales y Derivado, instalación abandonada de reciclaje de plomo.

La directora ejecutiva de la EHC, Diane Takvorian, fue asignada por el Presidente Barack Obama como miembra del Comité Consultivo Público Conjunto para la CCA. Por medio de esta membresía, ella espera fortalecer el compromiso trinacional a la justicia ambiental y alzar la voz del pueblo frente al organismo de toma de decisiones. Actualmente ella está trabajando para fortalecer el proceso de la Petición Ciudadana.

Tijuana: The communities of Colonia Chilpancingo, Colonia Murua and Nueva Esperanza share many of the problems found in San Diego's communities of color: substandard housing, over-crowded schools, a lack of social services, low-paid jobs, polluting industries mixed in with residential and commercial sites, industrial truck traffic, lack of parks and healthy food outlets, and severe air pollution. They are also adjacent to Tijuana's largest Maquiladora industrial complex.

EHC chose to work in these neighborhoods of Tijuana because their pollution problems skyrocketed after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 and the resulting growth of the maquiladora industry.

Although comprehensive economic and demographic data is not available for these neighborhoods, available data show that 67% of the homes have dirt floors, 66% do not have piped water, and 33% do not have sewer hook-ups. Two adults employed full-time in the maquiladora industry, the main source of employment, cover only two-thirds of the basic needs of a family of four.

NAFTA and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation: The Commission for Environmental Cooperation was created by NAFTA to address environmental concerns. Although the Commission has very limited authority, EHC has successfully used one of its available mechanisms – the Citizens' Petition - to secure the cleanup of Metales y Derivados, an abandoned lead-recycling facility.

EHC's Executive Director, Diane Takvorian, was appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the Joint Public Advisory Committee to the CEC. Through this membership, she hopes to strengthen the tri-national commitment to environmental justice and bring the voice of the people to the front and center. She is currently working to strengthen the Citizens' Petition process.

Children attending schools in the Tijuana communities of Colonia Chilpancingo and Colonia Campestre Murúa are exposed to high levels of diesel particulate matter, according to research conducted by Environmental Health Coalition and Colonia residents. Exposure to diesel exhaust is associated with serious health hazards including cancer, asthma and heart problems.

From December 2008 through April 2009, EHC and members of EHC's affiliate, the Colectivo Chilpancingo Pro Justicia Ambiental, conducted air quality sampling and traffic counting at three school sites – the communities' kindergarten, elementary school and high school. Analysis of the data showed that traffic volumes and ultrafine particulate levels are higher at the three school sites than at the control site.

Fifty percent of the trucks counted during sampling bore both U.S. and Mexican license plates, indicated they are licensed to operate on both sides of the border and are likely servicing the Maquiladora industry. Shortcuts past the schools save drivers time and fuel, but there are existing main arteries surrounding the neighborhood which are appropriate truck routes.

The community's conclusion that trucks needed to be banned from these streets was confirmed by a study conducted by Edgar Rodríguez of the San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health. Working in cooperation with the Autonomous University of Baja California, he examined the relationship between roadside pollution and traffic counts to assess the potential exposure of these pollutants in elementary school children.

He concluded that high pollutant levels were present and justified re-routing commercial trucks away from residential neighborhoods and schools.

The community organized a successful petition campaign and trucks are now banned from the streets that pass the schools.

On October 17, 2010 EHC and our Mexican affiliate the Chilpancingo Collective for Environmental Justice marked an important victory in the bi-national campaign to restrict maquiladora truck traffic from Colonia Chilpancingo, where diesel emissions from the trucks have caused respiratory problems for school children (link to page about the testing).

Signage was posted in August banning the trucks from the streets where the schools are located. EHC, alongside members of the Collective and its Youth group, conducted a campaign for more than two years seeking to restrict semi-truck traffic driving past the three public schools in the neighborhood.

Semi-trucks serving the maquiladora assembly plants take shortcuts through the neighborhood. As a consequence, 2,000 school children and everyone who lives and works in the area are exposed to high levels of diesel emissions. Diesel emissions are associated with serious health risks, including asthma, cancer and heart disease. More than 1,000 supporters signed the petition circulated by EHC, the Collective and Youth group demanding a halt to the invasion of semi-trucks from the adjacent industrial park, the largest in Tijuana.