This is the time to recognize that although El Salvador is a small country in the map, the faith and suffering have  taught people to defend their territory and stand up for their rights. So, it is clear that the size of the country does not make the organization weakened.

It was in the early 2000´s when mining companies started to see El Salvador as one more of their businesses by exploring and exploiting specific places rich in metals in different parts of the country. After people and movements started to learn more of what was all about, they decided to form the so called National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in 2005. As part of the strategic plan of defending the sovereignty is when CRIPDES is recognized as an active member of “La Mesa”.

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USESSC has historically accompanied all the efforts made by CRIPDES in all fields they have presence. In fact, communities were part of that LUCHA with CRIPDES and so Sister Cities did.                                                                          

In 2007, Antonio Saca (last President of El Salvador who represented the right-wing, ARENA party) stopped issuing mining licenses that made the mining companies get angry. Two of them launched lawsuits in 2009, claiming violations of their rights under a World Bank investment law and a free trade agreement.

Meanwhile, Oceana Gold persisted not only in its legal bullying tactics but also in a global propaganda campaign and intense lobbying of politicians in El Salvador. In October 2016, it faced a stunning setback when the World Bank tribunal- with jurisdiction over the $250 million lawsuit ruled unanimously - that the mining company had no basis for its suit and ordered to pay the government of El Salvador $8 million to cover just part of more than $12 million that El Salvador had to pay in legal assistance in the case.

It has been almost twelve years since the people of Cabañas began to fight against mining companies coming into their territories. It has been almost eleven years since the Salvadoran government effectively stopped issuing mining permits. It has been almost eight years since Pacific Rim (now OceanaGold) sued the state of El Salvador, and also eight years since Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia, Ramiro, and Juan Francisco were murdered and put themselves on the line to defend their territory and its natural resources. It has been almost six months now that ICSID decided that the lawsuit had no merit at all.

A country that has suffered decades of aggression from the United States and global corporations, this arrogance sparked renewing resistance. The Catholic Church joined to organized communities, CRIPDES, MPR-12, and La Mesa for a legislative ban. The International Allies Against Mining gathered signatures of 280 groups/organizations representing over 180 million people telling the company to pay up and pack up.

“This victory is a tale of perseverance in the struggle for justice” –Pedro Cabezas, International Allies Against Mining. So, March 2016 will mark on our memories the day when El Salvador became the first country to ban metallic mining nationwide. And more important, the day when the world witnessed people´s power in El Salvador.

It is important to acknowledge so many people´s efforts in this LUCHA.

  1. To a numerous people of organized communities, for being persistent in their vision for a healthy environment and their need to protect their territories.
  2. To La Mesa, CRIPDES and International Allies for their strong organization and guidance to communities in the struggle.
  3. To International Solidarity Organizations –especially US Committees that are part of USESSC, for their accompaniment in the struggles of the Salvadoran people.
  4. To Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia, Ramiro, and Juan Francisco for showing the way to follow and who taught not to give up.
  5. To all the Salvadoran women who have actively resisted and defended the territories.
  6. To all those who continue to resist.

Let´s celebrate that huge victory of Organized Communities and Social Movements in El Salvador. And let´s spread the word that people across the world are choosing water over gold.

“La Lucha Sigue”

Peace and Solidarity.

By Victor Andaluz