CALL OUT: International observer delegation, September 2014

“CHALATENANGO FREE OF MINING” 

Community Consultations on mining in El Salvador

September 2014

Communities in the department of Chalatenango have been at the forefront of organized opposition to mining in El Salvador.  Since 2005, organizations such as CRIPDES-CCR, CORDES, members of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining, municipal authorities and faith groups have fiercely opposed attempts by Canadian based corporations Pacific Rim, which has an exploration license at Cerro Petancol in the town of Potonico, and Au Martinique, now Triad, which owns licenses to explore three concessions within the historical Eramon mountains. 

As the government of El Salvador has failed to ensure a long term ban on mining, affected communities are now seeking to further their organizing efforts to assert local autonomy and to declare territories free of mining though a process of community consultations innovating on provisions of the municipal code of El Salvador.

This delegation aims to bring international observers to learn about the impacts of large scale mining operations in El Salvador, to provide international observers to a process of building local autonomy and to support the defence of territorial integrity.

community leaders

 

More specifically participants in this delegation will:   

  • Become familiar and gain an overall understanding of the different dimensions of the anti-mining struggle in El Salvador.
  • Engage in knowledge exchange sessions with local leaders and local communities affected by mining.
  • To support, observe and verify community consultations on mining led by local organizations in the Chalatenango region of El Salvador.
  • To increase long term solidarity with communities leading anti-mining struggles in El Salvador. 

Preliminary program

Please note this is a preliminary program and it will change as we arrange locations organize with others. 

  • Day one

 Getting to know each other and orientation

  • Day two

Morning:  Travel to la Union and visit the San Sebastian mine. Engage with community members and learn about the environmental impact of an abandoned mine in local living conditions.

Evening: Travel to Cabañas

  • Day three

Engage with local community leaders and learn about the impacts of Pacific Rim Mining in the region.

Visit the town of San Isidro and talk to community members

Evening: Travel back to San Salvador

  • Day four:

Morning:  Debriefing session

Afternoon: Event at the University of El Salvador.

  • Day five:

Visit to Asuncion Mita, Guatemala to engage with local community members and discuss the impact of the Cerro Blanco Mine in El Salvador.

  • Days six and seven:  

Participate as international observers in a community consultation process in Chalatenango.

  • Day eight:

Press conference, evaluation and follow up activities.     

ABOUT MINING IN EL SALVADOR

The introduction of mining projects in El Salvador has been met with a public consensus that the country’s fragile environment is not able to sustain industrial scale extractive projects.  The size of country`s  territory,  over population, high vulnerability to natural disasters, the precarious condition of water resources, and unmitigated amounts of toxic waste already contaminating the natural environment are factors that have contributed to sway public opinion against mining. Public opinion polls have shown that over 60 percent of the population is opposed to mining.

Widespread opposition to mining has made it possible to halt the implementation of mineral exploitation projects until now. However, many challenges remain to ensure that the mining industry is prevented from increasing environmental vulnerability in the country. The Ministry of Economy through the Direction of Mining and Hydrocarbons maintains 29 active exploration licenses, and applications for over 60 exploration projects are currently in process. A law to prohibit mining has been introduced by civil society organizations at the legislative assembly but the government has failed to discuss it, maintaining only a de facto moratorium without legislative support.  Despite of the fact that that two mining companies have sued El Salvador for over 400 million dollars under the ICSID, an international trade tribunal housed at the World Bank, El Salvador has continued to sign trade agreements that contain investor-state clauses that give corporations the right to profit over public interest, and to sue in foreign courts if their rights to profit are interfered with.    

The failure of the current government to approve a mining ban has forced civil society organizations to sustain a permanent campaign to ensure mining projects are held back and to maintain public pressure for a permanent ban on mining.  The National Roundtable Against Mining in El Salvador - La Mesa, a coalition of civil society organizations that include rural development organizations, faith groups, think tanks, and students groups, has led a national campaign against mining and to works with its affiliates to develop creative strategies to engage the public and affected communities in advocating for a mining ban.  

The communities most affected by the introduction of mining projects in the country are the northern farming communities of the departments of Metapan, Chalatenango, Cabanas, Morazan and La union.  All these communities have already felt the presence of mining companies in their territories and have developed organized resistance to extractive projects according to their particular circumstances.

How to participate

How to Participate

This is a general call for participants that may come from any region and any background and that may be interested in learning about El Salvador, although the focus is on involving individuals who are connected to related struggles internationally, such as the anti-fracking struggle, and Tar Sands pipeline struggle, the First Nations environmental rights struggle, and others. 

If you are interested in participating or have questions, please contact:

  • Catie Johnston (United States)

U.S. El Salvador Sister Cities Co-Coordinator

sistercities.elsalvador@gmail.com

(503) 7596-6341

www.elsalvadorsolidarity.org

  • René Guerra Salazar (Canada)

Executive Director, SalvAide

T: 613-233-6215 | F: 613-233-7375

director@salvaide.ca

Skype: salvaidecanada

Facebook: SalvAide

www.salvaide.ca

 

Cost to participate

 

In country expenses:                   $600

 

International Flight:                     $600-$900**

 

*Subject to change based on delegation size

 

**International flight is to be purchased by each delegate individually

 

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