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NM activist seeking atomic bomb reparations invited to State of the Union


A New Mexico resident will attend President Joe Biden's State of the Union address tonight as legislation is pending to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

The measure was passed in 1990, with money going to residents of the Southwest who were harmed, either from uranium mining or atomic tests in 1945. The original legislation included "downwinders" in Arizona, Utah and Nevada. But New Mexico was left out, despite the state being home to the world's first atomic bomb testing and explosion.

Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, has made it her life's work to get New Mexico families compensated.

"I've been working for 19 years to bring attention to the negative health effects the people of New Mexico suffered," Cordova explained. "The Trinity bomb was detonated in the middle of our state and adjacent to a bunch of towns where 13,000 people lived in a 50-mile radius."

Cordova was invited to the annual Presidential address by Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M. In the coming days, the Senate is scheduled to vote on legislation to reauthorize the act, now scheduled to end in June.

Cordova pointed out the more than 30-year-old compensation program was an admission of guilt on the part of the government but left out many of those harmed. She knows families who have lost relatives to cancer, some within 10 years of the nuclear bomb testing.

"I just hope that people who know I'm present, realize that we will never give up the fight," Cordova asserted. "We will work very hard to get the RECA amendments passed this year, but if by some chance that doesn't happen, we will continue to fight this fight for justice as long as it takes."

This Sunday, the Hollywood blockbuster, Oppenheimer, about the creation of the atomic bomb, is a favorite to win best picture at the 2024 Academy Awards. The film did not address effects to those downwind of the bombing site.