* Gloria Silvia Orellana: CoLatino
“Efforts to have a legislative decree that prohibits mining operations and all of its forms have sprung since the year 2006. As a political party we can say that there are already 31 votes in order to comply with this demand from the population, social organizations, and the Catholic Church,” said FMLN legislator Guillermo Mata during the presentation of an official letter(requesting prohibition) in the Legislative Assembly.
With this petition from a group of mayors from northern Chalatenango, and the FMLN party, they add to the two civilian initiatives to legislate for the protection of the health of the population and the preservation of the environment against the transnational metal mining industry in the country.
Guillermo Mata, president of the Environment and Climate Change Commission in the Legislative Assembly, reiterated the commitment to legislate in favor of human life and considered that it was urgent to finally initiate the study of the new legal framework to guarantee inherent human rights such as water and health.
“We are going to schedule this topic for next Tuesday (February 14) and we will see then who is really committed to preventing the contamination of natural resources like the water, the land, and the air. Further, repeating the words of the Archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, this subject is not political, it is a subject of national interest, and of the life of everyone,” he stated.
While the Mayor of Arcatao, José Alberto Avelar, indicated that together with other members of the City Councils of San José Las Flores, Nueva Trinidad, Las Vueltas, and San Isidro Labrador they are adding to the initiative to eradicate all forms of mining in the nation’s territory.
“We have initiated [the process] with referendums in each municipality in protection of our environment, but now we want the Legislative Assembly to take charge and decree a law that bans mining operations at the national level, with our presence we want to put pressure on the political class to make a decision in favor of the population. Because we will all be affected, whether we are poor, rich, Catholic, Mormon, it will not matter; everyone will be equal if we run out of water,” he indicated.
José Felipe Tobar, Mayor of San José Las Flores pointed out, that together with social organizations they have been working with determination to prevent transnational mining companies from continuing to contaminate the nation’s environment and to end their judicial impunity, by having legislation to support eradication(of the mining industry).
“As local authorities we are convinced that metal mining is one of the most environmentally destructive industries and therefore, one of the leading contaminators of water through the use of chemicals like cyanide and arsenic that mines use in an excessive manner,” he noted.
The social organizations petitioned that they [the Legislative Assembly] initiate with the utmost brevity the discussion and approval of a law that bans metal mining and that the Environment and Climate Change Commission summon representatives of CRIPDES and the mayors from northern Chalatenango that have already held referendums and issued “municipal ordinances;” to state their opinion on the impacts of mining operations in their territories.
* Translated by Sebastian Rosemont