On Friday, town hall representatives from the communities surrounding San Jose Las Flores in Chalatenango met to discuss a new project that will be unfolding over the course of the next seven months called Chalatenango, Territories Free of Mining. Sister Cities will be hosting an anti-mining delegation that will coincide with this project, bringing delegates from around the world to witness the work being done in El Salvador, and for leaders in environmental work in the Americas to collaborate.
The idea is simple: in the absence of a national law that bans mining, individual municipalities can create Municipal Ordinances declaring the area free of mining in a process that promotes widespread dissemination of information and citizen participation. Organizers in the region have already begun a course for community leaders to learn all about mining and the popular movement to detain it, creating an ever-growing network of organizers and activists. These individuals will be key actors in the community consultation process that in September will result in a municipal ordinance blocking mining.
Sister Cities is excited to announce that we will be accompanying this process in 2014 with an international anti-mining delegation. Delegates will travel to some of the most heated spots in the anti-mining struggle, and also get to exchange experiences and ideas with leaders in environmental movements from all around the world. The delegation will culminate with the observation of the community consultation in San Jose Las Flores, Chalatenango.
One of the pieces of El Salvador’s fight against metallic mining is to get a national law approved that definitively bans mining in the country. The recent presidential elections were an important step in the process. Although the FMLN soon-to-be-President Sanchez-Ceren has not promised to pass the anti-mining law, he has promised to continue the moratorium that his predecessor, Funes, carried during his term. The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining (the Mesa) has high hopes that this law could pass during his term.
But while the national efforts to pass an anti-mining law are important, The Mesa’s strategy for 2014 is focusing especially on grassroots organizing, hence the Chalatenango Free of Mining campaign. Leaders emphasize that any national or international movement depends on the participation and involvement of community members, especially those who are most affected.
“It is time to reactivate the pueblo,” said Felipe Tobar Arce at the meeting on Friday. “This process will give us new energy and increased legitimacy in this struggle to defend our communities.”