'Let Us Care for Everyone's Home': The Catholic Church's Role in Keeping Gold Mining Out of El Salvador

A recently published essay by Phd candidate Rachel Nadelman looks at the role of the Catholic Church in the anti-mining struggle in El Salvador. 

let us care


"A majority of Salvadoran citizens and political leaders alike are opposed to mining, citing the country’s environmental degradation, population density, and limited water resources. Yet opposition to industrial gold mining has not always been the majority position in El Salvador. As recently as the early 2000s, the Salvadoran government, with support from international donors and creditors, pursued metals mining as an opportunity for economic growth. The story of how El Salvador diverged from this extractivist path is multi-faceted. A key element has been the strategic involvement of the Salvadoran Catholic Church. This working paper explores the Church’s influence on the Salvadoran government’s decision to suspend all metals mining. The analysis examines the theological and practical motivations for the Church’s stance on mining. It also describes the strategic actions taken by the Church to promote its position. Ultimately, the involvement of the Catholic Church served to strengthen the grassroots anti-mining movement, to shape the public debate, and to sway the electorate, which proved decisive in the suspension of all industrial metals mining in this country." DOWNLOAD THE STUDY HERE

El Salvador: 49 exploration permits were once approved

Xenia Gonzales Oliva: El Diario de Hoy / Translation P. Cabezas

Between 2000-2010, 49 exploration permits were approved, they are all currently under an administrative freeze.  

49 applications for metal and non-metal mining are currently frozen even though the Regulatory Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines of the Ministry of Economy authorized some in the past decade.

Between 2000 and 2010, the office received 95 applications for mining projects; 92 were for exploration permits and three for exploitation.

Most are located in the departments of La Union, San Miguel, Morazán and Cabañas. There were also requests for Santa Ana and Chalatenango.

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Environmentalists call for concrete signals of a sustainability agenda for El Salvador

As the celebrations for World Environment Day concluded around the world on June 5th, Salvadoran environmentalist were left relishing a rarely felt sense of victory after a demonstration of more than 8000 participants was greeted at the gates of the presidential palace by a high ranking commission of government officials who committed to include their demands in the development of the environmental agenda of the newly sworn in government of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren.     

Among the officials who stepped out of the palace to greet the demonstrators was long time environmentalist Angel Ibarra who exchanged friendly smiles and handshakes, this time as the newly appointed Vice-Minister of the Environment.  Other high profile officials included Lina Pohl, Minister of the Environment, Roberto Lorenzana, Technical Secretary of the president, and Francis Hato Asbun, Secretary for Governability and National Dialogue.

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