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¡Por Fin! US and México Together to Clean Toxic Waste

I wouldn’t have believed it. Los Estados Unidos and México are together going to work to stop the flow of toxic sewage in the Tijuana River Valley. Their new agreement will allocate almost $500 million to fix México’s outdated old treatment plants, facilities that the previous PRI and PAN administrations in México had allowed to decay and break down.

Sewage from Tijuana has for decades flooded into México as well as into the waters off Imperial Beach near San Diego. The Morena administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is now taking action to clean things up. The US will contribute $330 million and Mexico $144 million for this clean-up effort, according to their agreement signed at the Tijuana Estuary. 

The toxic chemicals that flow from México directly impact this estuary, usually forcing the closure of beaches on the US side. The clean-up money will go for sanitation and mitigation projects on both sides of the border, and, if done correctly, these projects will reduce the volume of sludge and chemicals flowing into the Pacific by 80 percent — and cut in half the number of days wastewater flows in the Tijuana River. The work should finish by 2027.

The US media has, of course, focused only on the impact of this toxic pollution on the United States, never mentioning how this toxicity also endangers the health and well-being of gentes in Tijuana, especially los pobres. And the US media coverage gives zero mention to the decades that US factories in México — the maquiladoras — have operated with little or no regard for México’s environmental laws or the international “side agreements” in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Much of the border sewage and pollution has its origin in those maquilas. But the US mainstream media treat the border pollution and toxicity as solely a Mexican problem, leaving the destructive policies and practices of US imperialism completely off-the-hook.

Progressives in México and the US should laud this new Tijuana agreement as an important first step in addressing the many environmental problems along la frontera. And let’s remember this agreement would likely never have happened without the broad, incredible mass support that placed AMLO and Morena in power, support that now expects the health and welfare of people and Mother Earth to be a top priority for each government. This new agreement between the Yanquis and México amounts to a real people’s victory. Si se puede!

Bill Gallegos, a veteran Chicano
liberation activist, environmental
justice leader, and revolutionary
socialist, has a lot to howl about.