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Who Decides for El Salvador:  The People or Pacific Rim?
Pacific Rim Accuses those who Defend National Sovereignty of Being "Anti-Development" 

April 25th, 2012
San Salvador

On April 25th civil society organizations like CRIPDES and communities that make up the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in El Salvador (the Mesa in Spanish) held a rally and press conference in front of the office of the Attorney General of the Republic rejecting the recent sentences issued by the Specialized Sentencing Tribunal of El Salvador in the cases of two environmentalists from the town of Trinidad, Cabañas who were murdered in 2009. TheMesa criticized the Attorney General’s Office’s for failing to fully investigate the intellectual authors of the crimes, who they claim may be tied to Canadian mining company, Pacific Rim. 

As a sign of support, 35 organizations from across the U.S. and Canada signed on to a statement of solidarity with the Mesa’s calls for investigations and justice which was read at the press conference and presented to officials of the Attorney General’s Office. . The statement repeated the Mesa’s demand for real justice, saying “despite the constant demands voiced by civil society and the Mesa, the Attorney General’s Office and the Attorney General himself have refused to carry out thorough and serious investigations into the intellectual authors of the crimes in Cabañas. This has created a climate of impunity that ensures that politically motivated crimes can be committed in El Salvador without serious risks for the intellectual authors.”

Click here to watch a video of the solidarity statement being read at the press conference>>

A commission of representatives from the Mesa and the community radio station Radio Victoria was received by the secretary in charge of communications from the Attorney General’s Office, who claimed they were not being negligent in guaranteeing access to justice, but that the process of investigating intellectual authors is slow.  When the representative from Radio Victoria pressured the official as to why there had not been results in their case, which is almost over three years old, he said they are still investigating.  

The Mesa also took out a paid ad in local newspapers the day of the protest to bring attention to the issue. The rally was held as the Legislative Assembly announced their appointment of Astor Escalante as the new Attorney General of the Republic.  Escalante served as interim Attorney General for several months in 2009, including during the time between the murder of activist Marcelo Rivera in San Isidro, Cabañas and cases of violence in Trinidad.  In their paid ad the Mesa stated: “As the National Roundtable we also express our complete rejection of the return of Astor Escalante as head of the Attorney General’s Office, and would like to point out that during his period as Attorney General in 2009, the current situation of impunity and ineffective judicial systems, in general continued. “ 

Read the full solidarity statement here>>

Read the paid ad of the Roundtable against Mining>>


Who Decides for El Salvador:  The People or Pacific Rim?
Pacific Rim Accuses those who Defend National Sovereignty of Being "Anti-Development"

May 3, 2012
San Salvador

The Canadian multi-national mining corporation Pacific Rim recently circulated a press release in the U.S. press, which was covered by some press in El Salvador, where the company claimed that the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) will rule before May 31st on whether the ICSID has jurisdiction over the arbitration presented by Pacific Rim against the Salvadoran government.

In the press release, Pacific Rim alluded to communities and civil society organizations that have spearheaded the popular resistance against metallic mining projects in El Salvador.  The National Roundtable against Metallic Mining responded with the following:

The biased opinions published by Pacific Rim are part of a media maneuver that attempts to somehow influence both the ICSID tribunal decision as well as national and international public opinion in their favor. We think these statements aim to confuse the population by creating false expectations and once again attempt to provoke social rifts as well as delegitimize the right of the affected communities to decide whether to accept or refuse the installation of extremely contaminating metallic mining projects in their home towns.

We, the organizations and communities that oppose metallic mining projects in El Salvador, have backed our arguments up with scientific facts.  We have demonstrated that from a social, economic and especially environmental perspective, metallic mining, as an industry that uses and contaminates water, is not feasible because in a country with a small national territory, high levels of population density and severe water scarcity.  The negative impacts on public health, the environment, and the quality of life of the population in general are our main reasons for rejecting metallic mining.

Because of this, if the government of El Salvador has limited the number of mining exploration and exploitation permits, it has not been the result in any way of a blockade by “rogue” “anti-development” organizations, as the press release claims.  These accusations show the true disdain which those who make them have for the communities of El Salvador.  They completely negate the efforts that we as communities and organizations have made to prioritize the search for a model of sustainability that is in harmony with the environment and life in every form.  Our decisions are based in political clarity and the sovereignty of the Salvadoran people to freely decide what types the development they want.

In 2008, a poll done by the Public Opinion Institute of the Central American University, UCA, showed that more than 62% of the population living in areas with mining potential were opposed to mining projects and that these projects provide insignificant economic activity and threaten public health and the environment. The Salvadoran Government, by not allowing any mining projects, is excising its legitimate right to make its own decisions about internal political affairs, by responsibly respecting democracy and responding to the interests and needs of the majority of the population.

It’s important to also point out that by calling the organizations that have contributed to the movement to stop mining in El Salvador “anti-development,” Pacific Rim owes an explanation and should publically apologize to the 256 organizations from across the globe, representing millions of people, who have joined us in demanding that the ICSID rule in favor of the El Salvador in the suit filed by this mining company.

 -The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador

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