Tabasco feels ancient. There is an air of prehistory in its thick vegetation, lush fruit trees, and caimans that open their jaws on the shores of the lagoons. But under its green mantle lies a promise of abundance which has betrayed its residents time and again. In the name of economic development, a multifaceted disaster has been born. In January 2023, we visited Tabasco’s coastal area to interview locals, from fishermen to professionals, seeking to understand the human cost of poor environmental stewardship.

Those who live near the Pemex facilities know little about what goes on inside, but they do know what they leave in their wake.