On June 1st, the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled that Canadian mining company Pacific Rim would be allowed to continue its $77 million lawsuit against the Salvadoran government by basing its claims in domestic investment law.

Yesterday, the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining (the Mesa) mobilized over a hundred people to support their urgent demand to reform said law. Theypresented a request to the Legislative Assembly detailing a reform that would ensure that corporations are no longer afforded the option of suing the government in the ICSID, before filing claims in domestic courts. 

Below is an editorial aired on the ARPAS Radio Network that calls for support for the Mesa. 

A Question of Sovereignty

By, the ARPAS Editorial Team 

Yesterday, the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining asked the Legislative Assembly to reform the Investment Law, a piece of legislation that allows transnational corporations to sue the government in international tribunals and bypass the domestic justice system.

Article 15 of this law establishes that when controversies occur between foreign investors and the government, regarding investment in El Salvador, investors can go directly to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a corporate tribunal at the World Bank with its headquarters in Washington.

This legislation has allowed mining companies like Pacific Rim and Commerce Group to sue the government in the ICSID when the government denied their operating permits.  Pacific Rim dried up wells and created violence in Cabañas, which lead to their exploitation permits being denied; and Commerce Group’s exploitation license was revoked because it contaminated the San Sebastian River in La Union.

But, unsatisfied with the legitimate and fair decision taken by the Salvadoran government, both transnational corporations went to the ICSID in order to sue the country, basing their cases in the Investment Law and in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the latter of which was ratified by a right-wing legislative assembly during the Antonio Saca government.

The Investment Law and free trade agreements are a key part of the neoliberal legal structure implemented by ARENA governments that favor national and foreign big businesses at the cost of the public interest in the country.   For this reason, the first steps of building a new economic model in which prioritizes national interests, would take this damaging neoliberal legal framework apart.

This why the efforts of the National Roundtable against Mining are so important:  we need to reform or overturn the Investment Law and CAFTA in order to replace them with laws and trade agreements that promote investment and trade, but without infringing on the sovereignty and self-determination of the country, the protection of the environment and the rights of the population.  Therefore, all the patriots and everyone who feels tied to this country should support the Mesa’s motion and demand that the Legislative Assembly revise and modify all the investment legislation and trade passed during the ARENA governments and that supports the neoliberal model that we need to change.