Alfredo Carias : Contrapunto
Arcatao, San José las Flores, San Isidro Labrador and Nueva Trinidad in Chalatenango have already carried out referenda on mining.
Citizens of the municipality of Cinquera in the department of Cabañas were asked to participate in a public referendum, to be held in the next months, to give their opinion in favor or against metal mining within their territory.
Cinquera is located in a mountain region with a rich biological diversity and a history of organized resistance that developed during the armed conflict in the 80s. Strong reasons for communities, local government and environmental organizations to promote democratic initiatives, such as binding referenda, that lead to the creation of municipal ordinances to protect the environment and preserve their natural resources.
The launch of the fifth “Consulta Popular” against metal mining took place at a municipal forum held in Cinquera, explained Bernardo Belloso president of the Association for Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES).
“We have started positively with the formation of a follow up committee that will develop a series of educational workshops and orientation activities with the population of Cinquera to promote the consulta popular against metallic mining" he said.
It is important that local governments show consistency with the central government that has said to no metallic mining in El Salvador, said Pantaleón Carmelo Noyola Rivera, Mayor of Cinquera, as he referred to the millionaire law suit that the Salvadoran state recently won against OceanaGold mining company.
This will be the first municipality in Cabañas that initiates a process of popular consultation, in a territory where the El Dorado Foundation and Minerales Torogoz, subsidiaries of OceanaGold, are known to operate, said Vidalina Morales representative of the Association for Social Economic Development of Santa Marta (ADES).
"Without a doubt we will be victorious. We will celebrate with a resounding no to mining exploitation in Cinquera and it will be the first municipality of Cabañas that follows the example of the communities in Chalatenango", assured Morales.
The municipalities of Arcatao, San Jose Flores, San Isidro Labrador and Nueva Trinidad in the neighboring department of Chalatenango have conducted referenda where 99% of the population said no to mining in their lands.
It is now Cinquera´s turn, and environmentalists expectations a positive outcome after an active campaign of public education and awareness raising with the local population.