- Published on Thursday, 22 August 2013 14:27
An estimated ten thousand people hailing from different parts of the country marched through the streets of San Salvador today to demand that the Environment and Climate Change commission of the Legislative Assembly resume discussions on a General Water Law for El Salvador.
The march is the culmination a series of direct actions that environmental organizations and communities affected by water scarcity in El Salvador have led since the beginning of July, after negotiations to approve the law reached a stalemate.
The deadlock is caused by fundamental ideological differences from the political parties that make up the commission claims Samuel Ventura, an activist with ACUA , an organization promoting the right to water in the department of La Libertad.
“One the one hand, the left leaning FMLN supports aspects of a bill proposed by social organizations which call for public administration and for prioritizing the public use of scarce water resources of the country”; on the other hand, the right wing ARENA party has opposed those principles and has “instead advocated for the involvement of the private sector in the administration and regulation of the water supply” explained Ventura in a community organizing meeting back in July.
The first attempt to legislate the use of water in El Salvador was introduced in 2006 by the Foro de Agua, a coalition of environmental and social organizations that submitted a draft bill to the National Legislative Assembly containing a legislative framework to publicly manage the scarce water resources in the country.
Government officials at the time dismissed the bill as unnecessary claiming the use of water use was already regulated by different government institutions including the Ministry of the Environment, MARN and the autonomous water administration agency ANDA.
- Published on Monday, 22 July 2013 11:53
By Leonel Flores, ARPAS Editorial
Last week the Legislature of El Salvador amended the Investment Law so that disputes between foreign investors and the state are settled in local courts before going to arbitration bodies such as the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID ).
The reform, which has gone unnoticed even by social movement organizations that reject the demands of transnational corporations in the ICSID, is of prime importance because it returns a hint of the country's sovereignty, sovereignty tainted by free trade agreements, bilateral investment agreements and by the Investment Act itself.
- Published on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 02:01
By Danielle Marie Mackey
First published in: http://www.guernicamag.com/features/the-rights-clash/
Mining in El Salvador exposes the contradiction between human rights and corporate rights under the international investment regime.
Images by Danielle Marie Mackey
“This is practically an urban country. We’re talking about putting a mine in the middle of a city,” exclaimed Fr. Jose Maria Tojeira from the stage. “Imagine mining in the middle of New York or Paris. That’s what they want to do here in El Salvador. This is… crazy.”
Fr. Tojeira, the ex-rector of one of the leading universities in El Salvador, was giving a presentation during the international “Gold Mining and the Defense of Water in El Salvador” conference that took place in May. The country is embroiled in a battle on the subject: civil society is demanding that the Congress pass a law banning metallic mining, while two North American mining companies are suing the Salvadoran government to defend their right to mine.
- Published on Friday, 12 July 2013 20:07
How transnational corporations use trade and investment treaties as powerful tools in disputes over oil, mining, and gas.
dowload full report here
In the context of high global prices for natural resources, governments seeking to ensure that their people benefit fairly from these resources and do not suffer from environmentally harmful extractive projects are finding themselves increasingly at odds with transnational corporations.[i]
In these battles over resource rights, transnational companies are increasingly using a powerful and relatively new weapon – the right to sue governments in international arbitration tribunals granted under a complex web of free trade agreements (FTAs) and thousands of bilateral investment treaties (BITs).
This report explains the institutional framework that allows global firms to extract enormous profits in international arbitration tribunals. It then documents the increased use of these rights by transnational corporations involved in the oil, mining, and gas industries, particularly in Latin America.
- Published on Tuesday, 09 July 2013 14:49
The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining submitted a letter to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of El Salvador to ask that the Free Trade Agreement with US, Central America and the Dominican Republic CAFTA-DR be declared unconstitutional.
In the letter, the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining asked the members of the chamber to rule on three pending constitutional challenges that have been submitted since 2006. These constitutional challenges were accepted by the Supreme Court as they were considered to have valid constitutional arguments against the principles of "National Treatment" and "indirect expropriation" which require the state to give foreign firms the same benefits given to Salvadoran firms and defines any governmental action or inaction that harms potential investment earnings as an injury that allows foreign firms to sue El Salvador under international trade tribunals bypassing national justice mechanisms.
The constitutional challenge to CAFTA-DR cited by members of La Mesa was filed in January 2005 and was accepted by the Constitutional Court in March 2007, along with other challenges presented. At that time, the highest court of justice in the country considered valid fourteen of the thirty arguments outlined in the demands raised by the petitioners and it established a short timeline for the Executive and the Legislative Assembly to respond to these. Six years have passed and the Chamber has failed to rule on the matter.
According to the letter presented by La Mesa today, the recent ratification of the Association Agreement (ADA) with the European Union would be adding insult to injury as this treaty contains similar clauses that allow for the violations of constitutional rights as CAFTA-DR does. In that regards, memebrs of La Mesa also requested the chamber to expedite the process of analysis, discussion and deliberation of the various arguments accepted as valid to declare the unconstitutionality of CAFTA-DR and asked that a resolution be issued in a timely manner.
The importance of issuing a decision is highlighted by members of La Mesa because it would close the door to more lawsuits from foreign corporations such as US based Commerce Group which is suing El Salvador for US$100 million; and Canada based Pacific Rim which claimed a payment of $315 million alleging violations under CAFTA-DR and now is suing the country under local investment laws.
New acts of violence and intimidation against members of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining
- Published on Tuesday, 09 July 2013 12:08
Press release - July 02, 2013
The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining is an alliance of social, religious, NGOs, environmentalists, and community organizations. Since 2006, we have opposed metallic mining operation in El Salvador. Throughout these years various expressions of violence and abuses against people who make up our coalition have been committed without proper investigations and successful prosecutions of its perpetrators. In the archives of the Attorney General's Office and National Civil Police complaints of murder, death threats, persecution, kidnappings and robberies against colleagues who are part of our organization lie stagnant. Seven years into the struggle to oppose mining in the country, these threats continue to escalate.