February 4th, 2012

The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador (La Mesa) reiterated in a press conference this morning its petition for the Salvadoran Government to introduce legislation to place a definite ban to metallic mining in the country. 

The call was made as a response to a recent report released by the El Salvador’s Human Rights Ombudsman that highlights the potential violations to the human rights of Salvadorans by cross border contamination stemming from the Cerro Blanco project located in Guatemala, and recent legislation in the neighboring country of Honduras that opens the gate to a flood of mining projects located in the border with El Salvador.

The Honduran anti-mining movement has also been organizing in resistance to the pro-mining law. According to the human rights organization, Rights Action, “the Coalition of National Environmental Networks in Honduras is demanding the suspension of all proceedings related to the new mining law, given that there has been no public process related to the law, and that the law does not provide for binding and enforceable protections against and accountability for environmental and health harms, human rights violations, and for full respect for community rights to free and prior informed consent.  The Coalition calls on the Honduran people to use any political and legal tools available to defend their lives, communities and territories, and to insist on full public participation in the drafting and passing of a proper mining law.”  Click here to read more about the expansion of mining projects in Honduras since the military take over in 2009>> 

Edgardo Mira,  spokesperson for La Mesa made reference to a total 49 metal mining projects that are on the border with the neighboring countries of Guatemala(8) and Honduras (41) as they represent a probable threat of contamination in the near future.   Vidalina Morales, a native of the department of Cabañas and spokesperson for la Mesa declared that "we(La mesa) stress once again that contamination in the subsoil and the basin of the Lempa River, from mining projects in the border with Guatemala and Honduras is incompatible with the improvement of the quality of life for Salvadorans, as well as, the enjoyment, protection and promotion of human rights to water, health and  a healthy environment."

International support for La Mesa’s position was also expressed in the form  a letter, endorsed by 80 civil society organizations from 14 different countries, presented during the press conference by Alexandra Early, a member of a coalition of organizations based in the U.S. and Canada whose main purpose is to support the work of la Mesa. “The negative impact of large-scale industrial mining in local communities is not just a regional problem, but a problem of global scale” read Early from a written statement.  As such “communities around the world that are inspired by the work of La Mesa have come together to show their support for its struggle to end metallic mining in El Salvador”

During the press conference members of La Mesa expressed their solidarity with civil society organizations in Guatemala and Honduras, sisters in their struggle for life and the defense of territories, access to clean water and natural ecosystems. They also mentioned the necessity to ban metal mining in El Salvador in order to legitimately require neighboring countries to cancel extractive projects that could affect life locally.

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See videos of the press conference conference:

http://youtu.be/5khtmyoUubY

http://youtu.be/Wf_Yt3FuSig

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See coverage in local media (in spanish)

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