Mining Resistance

This is the second municipality in El Salvador to declare itself free of mining. Territorial organization to strengthen local democracy is a key strategy for anti-mining activists in the country's unpredictable political environment. 


Since July of 2009 there has been a wave of violence and conflict in the communities opposing mining in the department of Cabañas.  To date there have been three anti-mining activists murdered, one who was eight months pregnant at the time.  We denounce the continued violence and threats towards anti-mining activists and community leaders in the country, and support the struggle for justice in the violence toward social leaders.  The lack of investigations into the intellectual authors by the Attorney General’s Office and the Civilian National Police Force is truly worrisome.  This negligence has created an environment of impunity in the region that continues to destabilize communities.


The Current Situation

 On January 11, 2011 the community radio station Radio Victoria received a written death threat. The authors of the letter claim to be an “extermination group” and offer large sums of money to the radio if they “stop making trouble,” by criticizing proposed mining projects and the local government. If they don’t, the group says they will murder the radio’s three “loudest mouths,” Elvis Zavala, Pablo Ayala, and Manuel Navarrete. 

January 23, 2011 Mesa member Hector Berríos received threatening phone calls from an unidentified person who claimed to have been hired to kill Hector or a member of his family. 

 Two young people in Cabañas connected to the June 2009 murder of
Marcelo River were killed. Darwin Serrano, who was involved in the murder but was released from prison because he was a minor, was attacked and killed on December 20. The second victim, Gerardo Abrego León testified in the trial that resulted in prison sentences for the material authors of Marcelo Rivera’s murder. Abrego was killed on January 2. Read more here. 

 This month, employees of CEICOM, a part of the
Mesa, have been victims of two robberies in which a vehicle and important organizational documents were stolen. In 2010, while traveling to regional anti-mining conferences, CEICOM employees were kidnapped, robbed and left tied up in Guatemala

The negligence of
El Salvador’s Attorney General’s Office has created a climate of impunity that empowers this systematic intimidation campaign against the social movement to continue. We demand that the Attorney General properly investigate these crimes and to call on the government to provide sufficient protection for members of the anti-mining movement. 


For Past Articles and Updates See:

URGENT ACTION: New Threats and Violence in Cabanas

Is Gold Corp Responsible?

Salvadoran Anti-Mining Activists Attacked in Guatemala

Tribunal Convicts Material Perpetrators of Marcelo Rivera's Assassination

The Mesa Reacts to the Arrests of Suspected Murderers of Anti-Mining Activists

One Year Anniversary of the Assassination of Anti-Mining Activist Marcelo Rivera

140 Organizations Sign Letter Calling for Justice in Cabanas, Feb 2010

CoLatino: Murder of Dora Alicia Sorto Rodriguez, Dec. 26, 2009

Mesa Frente a la Mineria Release: Assassinations continue, Dec. 27, 2009

Mesa Frente a la Mineria Release: Assassinations in Cabanas, Dec. 22, 2009

Silencing Voices: Murders of Anti-Mining Activists in Chiapas and El Salvador

Over 100 International Organizations Demand Investigation : July 24, 2009

Journalists and Priest recieve threats due to their advocacy: July 29, 2009

Anti-Mining Activist Marcelo Rivera Tortured and Murdered: July 15, 2009

Anti-Mining Activist Marcelo Rivera Disappears: July 2009

We actively oppose the Pacific Rim’s law suit that takes advantage of CAFTA, totaling $77 million against the Salvadoran government for not giving mining permits to the company.  We also call on the Milwaukee-based company Commerce Group to respond for the environmental and health damages they have caused in El Salvador. 

 Latest News:

Anti-Mining Movement Cautiously Celebrates Commerce Group Case Victory

Exactlytwo years after the Milwaukee based mining company Commerce Group filed their Notice of Intent to sue the Salvadoran Government for $100 million,the international trade tribunal released their decision to dismiss the case.  On March 14th, the International Centre for Settlement ofInvestment Disputes (ICSID) threw out the case on a technicality, stating that Commerce Group had violated ICSID regulations by failing to correctly terminatelegal proceedings in local Salvadoran courts.  However, the ICSID denied the Salvadoran government’s request to deem the case “frivolous”. Therefore each party must pay $800,000 to cover the tribunal’s costs in addition on totheir individual legal fees.

“It’spretty outrageous that the government of El Salvador has been attacked for protecting the health and safety of its people,” said Al Gedicks, Member of the Midwest Coalition against Lethal Mining (MCLAM) and author of Resource Rebels.“If anything, it is Commerce Group who should be paying for the toxic legacythey have left behind.”  Read more>>


For more information about Pacific Rim and Commerce Group suitsand their effect on El Salvador:

Sister Cities Responds To Inaccurate Commerce Group Statements

Anti-Mining Movement Cautiously Celebrates Commerce Group Case Victory

Commerce Group Lawsuit against El Salvador Rejected

Milwaukee Company´s Controversial Lawsuit Draws International Opposition

Midwest Coalition calls on Commerce Group to Drop Suit Against ElSalvador

Mining Companies on the Counter Attack

Press Release-Organizations Call on Commerce Group to Drop Lawsuit

No Dirty Gold Statement Signed by 74 Organizations

Salvadoran & International Organizations Step Up Resistance to MiningCompany

Sept 14- Virtual Chat on the Commerce Group Mine with the Mesa’s DavidPereira

Salvadoran, Canadian & US Organizations Protest Canada’s Support ofMining

The Movement Against Mining Marches On; An Upate

Pacific Rim vs. El Salvador: The Conflict Comes to Washington D.C.

U.S. Embassy Supports Pacific Rim Mining Co? Feb, 2010

Mining Companies Turn to CAFTA and File Suit Against El Salvador

Pacific Rim Threatens to Sue Under CAFTA: December 2008

Three years after the first aluminum surveying tags appeared in the hills above San José Las Flores, where, according to the Salvadoran mining code, company representatives have no legal right to be, the organized communities of Chalatenango continue to face the threat posed by international gold mining companies.  They also continue to organize against them.

As municipal, legislative, and presidential elections take center stage in El Salvador during the coming months, international mining companies will be less active.  They are waiting and hoping for a new mining law that would allow them freer rein in the country, a law that won’t be discussed during an election year because popular opposition to it is so widespread.

The communities of Chalatenango hold talleres, community workshops, to educate about and organize to prevent the destructive impacts of gold mining.  Following their excellent example, over the next six months, the Sister Cities e-bulletin will contain articles describing and analyzing different aspects of the Salvadoran mining struggle and the mining industry. 

We have stood in solidarity with the organized communities on this issue since the companies arrived, and will continue to do so. This is an embodiment both of our commitment to accompany our sister communities and organizations in their struggle for community sovereignty and the defense of natural resources, but also in the defense of human and civil rights, which will remain important as communities continue to resist this unwelcome incursion to their communities and lands. 

We will add links to the Analysis and Resistance Series as new articles become available, here.

[#1] Organizing in El Salvador, August 2008This update covers recent mining events in El Salvador, including analysis of Pacific Rim’s suspension of operations, continued education and resistance efforts in the communities, and examples of some of the deceptive tactics used by mining companies.

[#2] Educating Our Communities Against Propaganda, North and South :  This October, 2008 update covers the educational community organizing in Chalatenango, and details deliberate mining company strategies to co-opt and manipulate community opinion.

[#3]  Pacific Rim Out of El Salvador!  Campaign Kicks off November 12, 2008 : This update revisits current anti-mining organizing in El Salvador.  Also, don't miss this month for in-depth mining coverage.

[#4] Public Statements Grow Against Mineral Mining in El Salvador, February 2009 :  San Salvador's new Archbishop and President Tony Saca make strong statements against mining.

[#5] Mining Companies Turn to CAFTA and File Suit Against El Salvador : June, 2009: Facing local opposition to their mining projects, two mining companies are turning to international trade agreements in an attempt to force their projects through.


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