* Teresa Alvarado: Transparencia Activa
The inhabitants of Cinquera also asked the city council to call a popular vote so that the citizens of the town can decide through a vote if they are in favor of, or against, mining operations.
Inhabitants of the municipality of Cinquera, in the Department of Cabañas, called on the Representatives of the Legislative Assembly to take up the discussion of the bill that bans metal mining in the country.
In 2009 civil society organizations and communities presented a bill to the Legislative Assembly against mining, but up until now there have been no advances in the discussion.
Faced with the refusal of legislators to close the door on mining operations in the country, the inhabitants of the above-mentioned municipality also presented 500 signatures to the mayor of the town in which they requested that the city council call a community referendum against mining operations in the area.
In this country there exists the Law on Mining, regulating the industry’s activity as it concerns the exploration, extraction, processing, and commercialization of the non-renewable resources on and below ground, which has been in effect since 1996.
Faced with the solicitation presented by the communities of Cinquera, the mayor, Pantaleón Noyola, said that the city council is of the disposition to support the community petition to declare the area free of metal mining.
“We are, all of us, of the same mind to say no to mining, for one reason only: for the life of the children, the children and population in general. Everyone has to work, men and women. I call on all of the mayors of this department to join us in this effort and declare each municipality free of mining. We cannot allow these types of projects because they come to contaminate the water, the air, and the environment,” declared the head of the town.
The community consultation will be held on February 26th when the population will say if they are in favor of, or against, the mineral extraction projects in the area. Cinquera will be the first municipality in its department to hold a referendum that adds to others [in the Department of Chalatenango]that have voted to reject mining.
Four voting centers will be set up for the referendum, one in the urban center and the rest will be located in the communities of Cacao, San Nicolás, and San Benito respectively.
Cinquera is a territory populated by communities that were protagonists in the past armed conflict and it has an abundant ecological diversity that is currently encouraged by local governments through sustainable development initiatives that promote the protection and conservation of natural resources. At the same time, Cinquera is threated by the prospecting (terrain studies) of mining interests located around the municipalities of Potonico, Jutiapa, and Sensuntepeque.
This effort has been accompanied by civil society organizations, among them: the Association for the Reconstruction and Municipal Development of Cinquera (ARDM), Assocation of Women (AMECIJD), Association of Disabled Veterans of the War in El Salvador (ALGES), Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES), all of which make up the management committee.
This exercise in citizen participation has already been realized in four municipalities in the Department of Chalatenango. Among those that have joined together in rejecting mining are: San José Las Flores, San Isidro Labrador, Nueva Trinidad, and Arcatao.
* Translated by Sebastian Rosemont