Democracy Center and the Institute for Policy Studies Release Video about El Salvador, Investor/State Disputes and Popular Resistance
Democracy Center and the Institute for Policy Studies recently released a short video about the way big transnational companies are using free trade agreements and the International Center for Investment Disputes (ICSID) to force developing countries to hand over control of their natural resources. The video looks at the case of the Bechtel company’s suit agains the Bolivian government, the Pacific Rim suit against the Salvadoran government and the Phillip Morris lawsuit against the Uruguayan government and the resistance efforts in each country. Click here to see the video in English and here to see it in Spanish>>
A decision from the ICSID about their jurisdiction over the Pacific Rim lawsuit against El Salvador is due out this month. A coalition of labor unions working with anti-mining allies in the DC area will be protesting outside of the ICSID on Thursday, December 15th. They will be presenting an organizational sign-on letter to ICSID authorities denouncing the lawsuit and its violation of Salvadoran national sovereignty.Click here to read and sign on to the letter>>
The allies movement is gearing up to respond to that decision with petitions and press outreach. Sister Cities will be sending out an urgent action and information to send to press contacts as soon as the decision is out.
A Bike Ride to End Mining in Central America
The activist youth group, Plataforma Global, together with the Mesa, Bici-Critica El Salvador and Colectivo Anmu-tsipical organized a bicycle tour of San Salvador to promote their campaign “STOP Cerro Blanco” on Sunday, Novemeber 27th. Dozens of people decked their bikes with anti-mining signs and took to streets of San Salvador. The Plataforma Global group, which is made up of youth activists from all over Central America, participated as part of their Stop Cerro Blanco campaign. The goal of the campaign is to pressure the Ministers of Economy, Environment, Health and Foreign Relations to make public statements that recognize the negative effects the Cerro Blanco mine will have on El Salvador and demand that Guatemalan government shut down the mine.
In addition to the bicicletiada, the group has organized educational presentations, a photo campaign and plans to continue its pressure on the Salvadoran Government. The group also participated in the Thanksgiving Encachimbados/Indignados/Occupy Solidarity rally in San Salvador. For more information you can visit their blog here.
The Effort to Push the Mining Ban through the Legislative Assembly
On December 8, the National Roundtable Against Mining, aka The Mesa, participated in a rally in front of the Legislative Assembly, in its effort to get the law prohibiting mining passed before the March 2012 legislative and municipal elections. The mining ban has been stuck for several months in the Environment and Climate Change committee of the Legislative Assembly. The activity was organized with other organizations pushing legislation including the Ombudsman for Human Rights’ Office, the National Water Forum, Indigenous rights organizations and organizations working on natural disaster mitigation. The groups joined forces to promote these laws that would protect the right to food security, water security, indigenous rights and protection from future natural disasters.
The Mesa submitted a formal correspondence to representatives from Legislative Assembly asking that the proposed mining ban be moved out of committee and passed by the plenary. See the press release for the action below.
The Mesa also held a press conference on November 15 to voice their opposition to another law being considered in the Legislative Assembly, the Public-Private Partnership Bill, which they view as en effort to enforce the privatization of public services and natural resources.
This bill comes on the tail of the announcement of a new economic agreement between the U.S. and El Salvador, the Partnership for Growth, which is supposed to help El Salvador create the economic and social conditions for increased economic development and international development. The Mesa sees both of these policies as a threat to national sovereignty and as potential tools for mining companies to start operations in El Salvador. Click here to read the Mesa’s press release.
We the organizations of the Environmental Alliance of El Salvador, including the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining, the Permanent Roundtable for Natural Disaster Mitigation, and the National Water Forum, are deeply worried by the conditions of vulnerability and environmental degradation and we are also extremely dissatisfied with the stagnation of constitutional reforms and bills presented in recent years. We declare that:
As the environmental movement we are alarmed by the high levels of vulnerability in our country and we consider it to be an unjustifiable issue that the fundamental right of the population to water and food has not been recognized with adequate legislation. It is equally worrisome that metallic mining has still not been banned and that the indigenous community still have not had their rights constitutionally recognized. The demands that we are making in front of the Legislative Assembly today are all part of the same call to build a model of sustainability in El Salvador, a model which guarantees the fundamental rights to water, sustenance, land, Salvadoran culture, and public policy that allows for a more equal and democratic development for the majority of people. It’s worrisome that while the natural disaster Tropical Depression 12E has shown the dangerous vulnerability of our country, national leaders haven’t learned the lessons that could help them avoid future deaths caused by natural disasters and millions of dollars’ worth of damage to infrastructure.
As members of the pro-sustainability environmental movement, in the context of the electoral campaign that has already begun, we will be calling on the Salvadoran population beginning today to refuse to vote for candidates that don’t commit to and promote a sustainability agenda. Today we have come to remind the representatives to the Legislative Assembly that they should reinitiate the process for approving the bills that have already been presented. We demand that the Law to Ban Metallic Mining, the General Water Law, the Potable Water Law, the Civil Protection Law, and the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Law all be discussed and approved. Our stance from now on is that representatives in the Legislative Assembly who don’t commit to and promote our agenda of sustainability, will be turning their backs on the most vulnerable and excluded populations, and in effect on the majority in this country. These candidates therefore won’t enjoy the support and recognition of the majority of voters in the upcoming elections.
Representatives, we urge you support and promote these proposals that will ensure sustainability in El Salvador!