Sign Your Organization On to Support the Mesa

As the debate around mining in the Salvadoran National Assembly heats up, the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in El Salvador (the Mesa) is calling for international support as they struggle to protect their environment and natural resources.  

According to the United Nations, El Salvador is already the most environmentally precarious and vulnerable country in the entire world.  The cyanide-leach mining process proposed by industrial mining companies in El Salvador uses exorbitant amounts of water and experts have called the gold mining industry one of the most contaminating industries in the world

Recently, the Salvadoran government introduced a bill to the Legislative Assembly that would temporarily suspend all administrative procedures related to mining concessions.  After careful analysis, the anti-mining movement in El Salvador has decided that, while at first glance this bill seems like a step in the right direction, upon further consideration it is actually an extremely dangerous proposal which could open to the door to mining in the short term.  For more analysis around the bill see here.

Unfortunately, the bill that would definitively ban metallic mining in El Salvador, presented by the Mesa in 2006, still lacks the necessary votes for its approval.

The Mesa needs international support in order to make the demands of the affected communities and general population heard by policy makers.  They are asking for international organizations to sign the attached letter that encourages politicians to take their demands into account before making any decisions around mining policy.

Please sign your organization on to the letter by emailing stopESmining@gmail.com.  Feel free to email stopESmining@gmail.com with any questions or for more information.

For the Spanish version on the letter see here…

Thank you for your support. 

 

We, the undersigned organizations, express our support for Salvadoran communities and civil society organizations that participate in the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining, as they demand a definitive - and not just a temporary - solution to the problems and conflict created by metallic mining.  

September 26, 2012

According to the United Nations, El Salvador is the most environmentally precarious and vulnerable country in the entire world,[1] as the most densely populated country in Latin America within which 98% of  the surface water is polluted.[2] According to the Economic Commission for Latina America and the Caribbean, the country already has the least amount of water available per capita of all the Central American countries and in the near future will be facing water stress.[3]  Over 88.7% of national territory is susceptible to natural disasters and 95% of the population lives in high-risk areas.[4]

The cyanide-leach mining process proposed by industrial mining companies in El Salvador uses exorbitant amounts of water. Pacific Rim, a Vancouver-based company attempting to develop a mining project in the department of Cabañas, estimates its project will use almost 900,000 liters of water a day in the leaching process alone.[5] According to the Ministry of the Economy of El Salvador, in 2012 there were 42 proposed mining projects in the country.[6] If all of those projects were to be approved, they would use over 37 million liters of water per day, equivalent to what almost half a million Salvadoran families use daily, based on average water consumption in rural El Salvador.

The gold mining industry has repeatedly been called one of the most contaminating industries in the world.  For example, in its recent report of July 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & Toxics has documented the human rights impact of hazardous substances and waste from extractive industries.[7]

According to the Environmental Protection Agency from 1998-2010 U.S. mining accounted for 36% of all the toxic waste released in the country, more than another other industry.[8]  The San Sebastian River in the eastern corner of El Salvador is a clear example of the contamination that mining companies often leave behind. In 2012, the Salvadoran Ministry of the Environment found that the river had nine times the acceptable limit of cyanide and one thousand times the Salvadoran compulsory standard for water for human consumption of lead, a direct result of acid mine drainage from mining operations that were at their height of production from the 1930’s to the 1950’s.[9]

In light of this shocking reality, civil society organizations and affected communities that comprise the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining (the Mesa) strongly oppose metallic mining projects in El Salvador. The Mesa represents hundreds of communities and thousands of people throughout the country and includes environmental, community-based, research, legal and religious organizations.  For its work on environmental protection, human rights, the right to water and defense of national sovereignty, the Mesa has received national and international recognition.

Over the years, the Mesa has gained support from government officials, religious leaders and even business leaders who have expressed their opposition to mining in El Salvador. Most recently, the National Indigenous Coordinating Council signed a statement saying, “We categorically reject the predatory extractive policies of transnational corporations.”[10] In 2009, the University of Central America released a poll showing that 62.5% of the population in mining affected areas thought mining was not a viable industry for El Salvador.[11] 

In 2007 when the Salvadoran government began to put restrictions on the mining industry, as a result of the efforts made by the Mesa and other members of civil society, two multinational mining corporations, Commerce Group and Pacific Rim, responded by filing lawsuits against the government. The companies claim that their rights as investors are being violated. These suits were filed through investor protection provisions in domestic law and under free trade agreements, such as the DR – CAFTA, both of which were supported by the U.S. government and international lending institutions. During the arbitration process, each of these suits, which total over $200 million, will be heard and decided by three arbitrators of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), part of the World Bank.  Region-wide, one third of the 137 pending cases before the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes relate to natural resources and one half are against Latin American states. This is up from three cases pending before the same tribunal twelve years ago.[12]

After years of popular consultation and scientific analysis the Mesa has reached the conclusion that “If [the] government really cares about guaranteeing sustainability and improving the quality of life for the population, instead of looking for a superficial solution […], it should promote a ban on metallic mining through a new Mining Law that explicitly reflects the profound socio-environmental crisis we are suffering in El Salvador.” In 2006, the Mesa presented a bill to the Legislative Assembly that would definitely ban all metallic mining in El Salvador. While the bill has broad-based popular support, it still lacks the necessary votes for its approval in the Salvadoran National Assembly. 

Furthermore, the Salvadoran government has now presented its own proposal for mining legislation in 2012, which outlines a temporary suspension of all administrative processes related to mining concessions, a proposal which theNational Roundtable against Metallic Mining finds insufficient. The bill establishes that the suspension can be lifted once a 10-person revision committee, named by the President’s office, agrees that the conditions necessary for mining in El Salvador have been met. The Mesa is worried that if a Salvadoran president with a propensity to support the mining industry were elected in the near or distant future, the proposed law provides little real guarantee to ensure that the socio-environmental conditions necessary for mining are met in the country before the suspension could be lifted..

Given the threat that metallic mining poses to already taxed water supplies, the environment and public health in this densely populated country, as well as the dangers posed to democratic governance  by the corporate attacks of the Commerce Group and Pacific Rim, the undersigned organizations encourage policy makers in El Salvador to recognize the expertise, and broad-based representation of the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining and to seriously consider the Mesa´s proposals in the development of public policy for El Salvador’s metallic mining sector.

Signed,

 

 


[1]United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination, “Evaluación de la Capacidad Nacional para la Respuesta a Emergencias” 2010.  

[2] Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, El Salvador, “Resultados del Informe de la Calidad de Agua en los ríos de El Salvador” 2010.

[3]Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe, “La Economía del Cambio Climático en Centroamérica:  Reporte técnico  2011

[4]United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination, “Evalucaión de la Capacidad Nacional para la Respuesta a Emergencias” 2010.  

[5] Moran, Robert and Michael Moran, “Revisión Técnica del Estudio de Impacto Ambiental (EIA) del Proyecto Minero El Dorado, El Salvador” 2005.

[6]  Minstry of the Economy, El Salvador, “Empresas que han solicitado licencia de exploración ante la Dirección Reguladora de Hidrocarbudos y Minas del MINEC, que fueron aprobados y con vigencia posterior al 2002.” 2012.

[7] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights obligations related to environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and waste, Calin Georgescu, A/HRC/21/48 (July 2, 2012)

[8] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “Toxic Release Inventory” 2010.

[9] Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, El Salvador, “MARN Confirma Presencia de Cianuro y Hierro en Río San Sebastian, La Unión”” 2012.

[11] Instituto Universitario de Opinión Pública  Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas”, “Encuesta sobre conocimientos y percepciones hacia la minería en zonas afectadas por la incursión minera en El Salvador” 2007

[12] Anderson, Sarah, J. Alejandro Artiga-Purcell, Rebecca Dreyfus, and Maneul Perez-Rocha, “Mining for Profits in International Tribunals” 2011.

Signing organizations:

Name

Country

Contact

El Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (FOCO)

Argentina

foco@inpade.org.ar

Information Group on Latin America (IGLA)

Austria

igla@aon.a

Democracy Center

Bolivia

 jimshultz@democracyctr.org

Fórum Carajás

Brazil

edppinheiro@gmail.com

Salvaide

Canada

director@salvaide.ca

Common Frontiers

Canada

burbano@rogers.com

RightOnCanada.ca

Canada

kruff@bulkley.net

Patti Talbot, Acting Executive Minister, Partners in Mission Unit, The United Church of Canada 

Canada

cneufeld@united-church.ca

Committee to Support Social Development in El Salvador

Canadá

hwmunoz@gmail.com

Coalition QUISETAL

Canadá

gaiquel@web.ca

L’Entraide missionnaire

Canadá

gaiquel@web.ca

Mining Injustice Solidarity Network

Canadá

susana.caxaj@gmail.com

Mining Watch Canada

Canadá

jen@miningwatch.ca

Council of Canadians

Canadá

mkarunananthan@canadians.org

The Blue Planet Project

Canadá

mkarunananthan@canadians.org

Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network

Canadá

treehuggercate@gmail.com

Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL)

Canadá

solidared@cdhal.org

The Social Justice Committee of Montreal

Canadá

dmaccuish@sjc-cjs.org

Canadians Against Mining in El Salvador-CAMES

Canadá

notomining@gmail.com

Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network- LACSN

Canadá

lacsncanada@gmail.com

Salvadorean Canadian Association(ASALCA)

Canadá

info@asalca.ca

Salvadorean Canadian Association of Ottawa and Metropolitan Region(ASCORCAN)

Canadá

laura.avalos15@yahoo.ca

Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales OLCA

Chile

consuelo.infante@gmail.com

Pastoral Salvaguarda de la Creación

Chile

hermanaanamari@yahoo.es

Coronado por la Naturaleza

Costa Rica

danielsotoo2009@hotmail.com

La Ongd AFRICANDO

España

 ong@africando.org

Asociación Q´anil, Guatemala

Guatemala

hurtado.leonor@gmail.com

Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras

Honduras

berta@copinh.org

Comite Ambientalista Valle de Siria

Honduras

piviamador@yahoo.com

Alianza Internacional de Habitantes (AIH)

México

rodriguez.almazan.emilio@gmail.com

Frente Amplio Opositor a Minera San Xavier (FAO)

México

proyecto.cerro.sp@gmail.com

La Asamblea Veracruzana de Iniciativas y Defensa Ambiental (LAVIDA)

México

rodriguez.almazan.emilio@gmail.com

PIAP

México

mijangosleal@gmail.com

Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA)

México

proyecto.cerro.sp@gmail.com

Otros Mundos AC/Amigos de la Tierra México

México

guscastro@otrosmundoschiapas.org

Alianza Mexicana por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos (AMAP)

México

secretario.rmalc@gmail.com

Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño AC

México

barcadh09@gmail.com

Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC)

México

secretario.rmalc@gmail.com

Cesar Ascorra, Secretario General, Caritas Madre de Dios

Perú

 cmadrededios@caritas.org.pe

CooperAccion de Peru

Perú

jcuadros@cooperaccion.org.pe

Katya Salazar, Directora Ejecutiva –DPLF

Perú

cgarcia@dplf.org

Marco Arana Zegarra-Coordinador Nacional Movimiento Tierra y Libertad

Perú

vaportierraylibertad@gmail.com

Pablo Sánchez De Francesch, Director de Grufides-Peru

Perú

vaportierraylibertad@gmail.com

Asian Peasant Secretariat

Phillippines

kindsoul0@gmail.com

Convergencia de Movimientos de los Pueblos de las Américas (COMPA)

Regional

guscastro@otrosmundoschiapas.org

Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo Extractivo Minero (M4)

Regional

guscastro@otrosmundoschiapas.org

Chicago-Cinquera Sister Cities Project

U.S.

 j-pendergast@northwestern.edu

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)

U.S.

alexis@cispes.org

Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO

U.S.

cbiggs-adams@cwa-union.org

Washington Ethical Society Global Connections Committee

U.S.

rosswells@starpower.net

Arlington-Teosinte Sister City Project

U.S.

stdray@aol.com

Center for Alternative Mining Development Policy

U.S.

agedicks@uwlax.edu

Center for International Environmental Law

U.S.

morellana@ciel.org

Food & Water Watch, USA

U.S.

docallaghan@fwwatch.org

Wisconsin Resources Protection Council

U.S.

agedicks@uwlax.edu

Austin-Guajoyo Sister City Project 

U.S.

imallears@pvco.net

El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas/The Farmworkers Support Committee 

U.S.

catamlh@aol.com

Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA

U.S.

kajones@ghrc-usa.org

SHARE Foundation

U.S.

jose@share-elsalvador.org

Massachusetts Jobs with Justice

U.S.

edwin@massjwj.net

Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team

U.S.

jstokan@sistersofmercy.org

Texas Fair Trade Coalition

U.S.

bobcash@citizenstrade.org

Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project

U.S.

manuel@ips-dc.org

Fundación Cristosal

U.S.

director.christosal@gmail.com

MOFGA El Salvador Committee

U.S.

pkvolckhausen@escrap.com

U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities

U.S.

sistercities.elsalvador@gmail.com

Washington Office on Latin America

U.S.

MMeyer@wola.org

Friends of the Earth, U.S.

U.S.

WWaren@foe.org

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)

U.S.

GCozette@crln.org

National Lawyers Guild International Committee

U.S.

judy_somberg@igc.org

National Lawyers Guild Task Force on the Americas

U.S.

judy_somberg@igc.org

Oxfam América

U.S.

svergara@oxfamamerica.org

Cristians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ)

U.S.

crispazfrancisco@gmail.com

Binghamton-El Charcón Sister City Project

U.S.

red@cac.cornell.edu

FOCUS Central América

U.S.

plci48@hotmail.com

Bangor-Carasque Sister City Project

U.S.

jesakade@gwi.net

Power in Community Alliances

U.S.

jesakade@gwi.net

Madison-Arcatao Sister Cities Project

U.S

marcrosenthal@hotmail.com

Midwest Coalition Against Lethal Mining ­- MCALM

US

agedicks@uwlax.edu

 

 

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