Social Movements Demand Blunt Action to Prohibit Mining

Gloria Silvio Orellana: Colatino

"It is clear that OceanaGold does not want to pay, so we have to intervene; the National Police (PNC) and the Prosecutor's Office (FGR) must intervene their assets," said Ricardo Navarro, president of CESTA in rejecting the delay of 8 Million dollars owed to the Salvadoran State by transnational mining company, which lost its litigation before the ICSID.

"We already have serious problems in El Salvador with all the environmental pollution, problems with climate change and mining  on top of that. They (Pacific Rim/Oceana Gold) wanted to steal US$250 million from us and thank goodness that the ICSID said it was clear that El Salvador was right (ruling in favor of the state)," he said.

 

This February 14 is the deadline for the transnational mining company Oceana Gold, previously Pacific Rim, to pay compensation to the Salvadoran State eight million dollars, according to the ruling of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ), So environmental and social organizations demanded compliance.

The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining, the Movement of Victims Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC), the Association of Participative Radio Programs of El Salvador (ARPAS) and the Central American University "José Simeón Cañas" (UCA) reiterated their commitment to continue to promote pertinent actions that lead to a law that prohibits the metal mining in the country.

Navarro said that a review of the Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) should be made, given the almost zero profit generated for the peoples of the region and especially El Salvador, in the commercial exchange of goods with the United States.

"This has only served large corporations and benefited those who have money; that is why we need legislators to votes against metal mining, to show that they are worthy of their posts, to make it clear that they are on the side of the interests of the Salvadoran nation and not to defend the interests of large corporations... hopefully they will make the right decision, "he said.

Meanwhile, Andrés Mc Kinley, representing the UCA, reaffirmed that there are enough elements and scientific studies that verify the serious impacts that metal mining would cause in El Salvador, due to country's territorial extension and population density; mining would collapse the Integrity of the environment in a few months.

As for the delay in payment of OceanaGold, the company has stated that it would review the ICSID decision, but McKinley said that the lawyer who led the case, Luis Parada, explained that the transnational mining company must have paid immediately following the ICSID ruling.

"There is no 120-day period for the payment of those eight million dollars, that is, OceanaGold is already in violation of the ruling, and there is no legal basis for making further claims, rather, we believe that the government of El Salvador has been kind enough to OceanaGold, throughout this process as the lawsuit against the country was always unjust" he stressed.

Leonel Herrera, Director of ARPAS, invited state bodies to "close the chapter of mining" in the country and make decisions on the basis of the common good, because it has been demonstrated that the extractive industry is not viable for the environment, people's health and burdens the ability to deal with the effects of pollution.

"Different sectors of the country have proposed a ban on mining (religious, academic and social sectors) before the ICSID, which is a World Bank court, ruled in favor of the Salvadoran State and rejected the claims of the mining company.  All the arguments are there, this is a debate that has been happening for more than 10 years, and that debate has even had unfortunate consequences such as the murders of environmentalists.  This can be closed with 43 votes of the Legislative Assembly, hopefully out of consensus, to approve legislation that has been presented by the Catholic Church and the UCA. We need supportive legislators to vote in favor of the common good, "he concluded.