Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.
Life-long resident Berlinda Trujillo has been involved in labor and environmental struggles stemming from the Molycorp mine for over 30 years.
Berlinda Trujillo: "Of course, a mine divides a community. You can't even talk environmental issues, because if somebody else is not for it, then they right away withdraw from the conversation because, I don't know, I guess they're afraid to lose their job. Or the ones that are anticipating getting the job are afraid that they might not be called to work. So they don't get involved and they don't even want to talk about it.
"And there's a lot of people that don't want to talk about it because they feel that the ones that are trying to keep the air clean and the water clean are attacking the ones that are working. And that's not it at all. I mean, you live and let live. In letting others live, there's where the environment, protecting the environment, comes in.
"I came to school here when I was little in the "40s. There was no running water, so the ditch, that main ditch, was where we drank water from. The school didn't have wells, so the schoolchildren drank water from the ditch. We'd make cups, paper cups, and have our lunch there by the little stream. And we used to go on a lot of picnics, and we drank water from the river. Thirty or 40 years ago I used to do that. Of course, the mine was already operating then - it was underground, though. But after they made it an open pit, it's just terrible.
"(There were) complaints from the people that their water was being polluted, the ones along the river. I can remember a few years ago when people were complaining of getting sick to their stomach, and they were blaming the water, but I never really found out for sure."
Copyright © 2000 HCN and Sandhya Ganapathy and Eirian Humphreys