On April 12, 2017, years of community resistance, tireless organizing, and persistent political pressure by the people of El Salvador resulted in a total ban on metallic mining in the country, the first of its kind in the world. The heroes in this victory are clearly the women and men who for more than a decade have organized in their communities to protect their environment and their resources. Now more than ever, our sisters and brothers in El Salvador offer a model and inspiration for organizing and resistance for those of us living in the United States facing a challenging moment in our own history.
Below is a timeline to help put in context this year's victory:
1904 - Gold mining begins at the San Sebastian mine in La Union.
1999 – Commerce Group resumes operations in San Sebastian.
2002 – Pacific Rim begins operations for the El Dorado mine in Cabanas.
2005 – La Mesa, the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining, begins organizing to resist mining.
2006 –The Ministry of the environment orders Commerce Group to present an environmental remediation plan, the company subsequently sues El Salvador in local courts.
Members of La Mesa present the legislative assembly the first draft of a bill to prohibit mining
2008 – President Antonio Saca (ARENA) declares he will issue no new mining permits.
2009 – President Mauricio Funes declares a moratorium on mining.
Pacific Rim sues El Salvador for $77 million through the ICSID.
Commerce Group follows Pacific Rim and sues el Salvador for $100 million at the ICSID
Marcelo Rivera, Ramiro Rivera Gomez, Dora Alicia Recinos Sorto, and Dora’s unborn child are assasinated for their resistance to mining.
2011 – Juan Francisco Duran Ayala is assassinated for his resistance to mining.
2012 – ICSID rules in favour of El Salvador and tells Commerce Group that it cannot sue El Salvador in both local courts and international courts at the same time, the company goes bankrupt and abandons the case at ICSID.
ICSID rules in favour of El Salvador and tell Pacific Rim that it can not sue El Salvador under the CAFTA rules, but allows the case to proceed under local investment laws
2013 – Oceana Gold purchases Pacific Rim and raises the amount of the lawsuit to $301 million.
Alejando Guevara survives an attempted murder for his involvement in anti-mining organizing.
2016 – ICSID decides in favor of El Salvador in the lawsuit filed by Pacific Rim / Oceana Gold.
2017 – El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly passes a law banning metallic mining.