Collapse of Dignity: The Story of a Mining Tragedy and the Fight Against Greed and Corruption in Mexico presents the events surrounding the Pasta de Conchos mine disaster in 2006. Author Napoleon Gomez, leader of Los Mineros (formally Mexican Miners and Metal Workers Union) discusses the greed and neglect that served as prologue to the disaster, and the corruption, cover-up and slander by corporate and government officials in the aftermath of what he terms “industrial homicide.”
In the early morning on February 19, 2006, the Pasta de Conchos mine in northeastern Mexico collapsed, trapping sixty-five miners. After a scant five days, rescue attempts were abandoned; the author asserts that this was done to prevent surviving miners from revealing the mine’s substandard conditions, which would have given them a legitimate media platform. InCollapse of Dignity, Gomez details the struggle with President Vincente Fox’s regime (promised to be “of businessmen, by businessmen and for businessmen”) to improve wages and conditions for Los Mineros in the years leading up to Pasta de Conchos. Part autobiography and part historical account, the book chronicles the author’s rise to prominence in Los Mineros, influenced his father Napoleon Gomez Sada, who preceded him as the head of the union. Gomez details the intimidation and slander he experienced personally in the aftermath of the Pasta de Conchos disaster, alleging that the Fox regime and mine-owner Grupo Mexico attempted to make him a target to distract from their respective roles in the disaster.
Gomez’s lengthy work is an exhaustive account of the events surrounding the mine disaster. The author writes eloquently and passionately, creating a work of social idealism that makes compelling reading. Though obviously written from a biased perspective, the claims ring true in the context of the facts provided. An Oxford-educated economist, Gomez was the recipient of the AFL-CIO’s prestigious International Meany-Kirkland Human Rights Award in 2011.
Ostensibly about a mine disaster, ultimately Collapse of Dignity is the story of one man’s fight against The System, a fight based on the premise that “each worker who helps create the wealth of Mexico deserves respect and dignity.”