• Poisoning the Well: Mining, Water, and Public Health in Zacatecas, Mexico (1880-1942)

      Beezley, William H.; Gomez, Rocio; Beezley, William H.; Gosner, Kevin; Barickman, Bert J.; Morrissey, Katherine; Weiner, Douglas (The University of Arizona., 2014)
      After the Mining Code of 1884, Zacatecas residents saw the mining industry encroach on their water sources and menace the public health of the city. The Code allowed for the privatization of land by foreign nationals, denouncements of mines, and water rights to local sources. Municipal officials and residents soon faced a shortage of drinking water and firewood as severe drought settled in the region, along with a devastating monetary crisis. Residents voiced public health concerns with cholera, floods, and abattoirs and pushed for investment in water infrastructure, rabies vaccines, and drainage projects. Miners established unions to represent their claims in injuries and to have silicosis-tuberculosis recognized as an occupational disease. Using public and private archives, newspapers, union documents, and government correspondence, this study demonstrates how municipal officials and mining companies understood public health and occupational health, and to what extent residents tolerated the industry's hold on water. While the historiography of the city emphasizes the economics of colonial silver mining, this study examines the social and environmental links between the industry and the city as mining companies blocked union activity and water management efforts.