LISTEN VT RADIO | JOIN TEAM VT | SIGN UP DAILY NEWSLETTER
VETERANS TODAY ON : FACEBOOK | TWITTER | VT FORUM
|

Salvadorans Struggle Against Mining Firm

by Sherwood Ross

 

Farmers along the banks of El Salvador’s Lempa River believe tomatoes gleam brighter than gold. They would rather put the river to work for farming, fishing, and drinking than to allow the multinational Vancouver-based Pacific Rim Mining Co. of Canada use the river water to extract the rich veins of gold buried nearby—a process that involves applying toxic cyanide-laced water to separate gold from the surrounding rock.

Area farmers discovered that “only a tiny share of Pacific Rim’s profits would stay in the country, and that the El Dorado mine was projected to have an operational life of only about six years, with many of the promised jobs requiring skills that few local people had,” write Robin Broad and John Cavanagh in the August 18th issue of The Nation magazine. Broad is a professor at American University’s School of International Service and Cavanagh is director of the Institute for Policy Studies, of Washington, D.C.

The Lempa is the water source for more than half of El Salvador’s 6-million people and wends through Honduras and Guatemala as well. In Santa Marta, El Salvador, Broad and Cavanagh write, “citizen groups are building sustainable farming as an alternative economic base to mining. Their goal: a ‘solidarity economy’” centered on the life-giving river to feed and clothe them.

Vidalina Morales, an organizer for the Social and Economic Development Assn.(ADES), told the reporters, “initially, we thought mining was good and it was going to help us out of poverty…through jobs and development.” (The price of an ounce of gold has skyrocketed from $300 a decade ago to more than $1,500 today.)

The Salvadorans changed their views, however. As a study from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature found, area residents “living near mining exploration activities began to notice environmental impacts from the mining exploration—reduced access to water, polluted waters, impacts to agriculture, and health issues.”

Tragically, in the fierce political struggle over the use of the waterway, in June of 2009 community activist Marcelo Rivera was kidnapped, tortured and assassinated by unknown persons and student deejays at ADES broadcaster Radio Victoria, received death threats.

What’s more, two years ago, an activist expectant mother was killed and her two-year-old child wounded in an attack, and lawyers of an anti-mining group were the victims of burglars. One youth told Broad and Cavanagh that he turned down a $30-a-week offer to meet with Pacific Rim representatives to inform on anti-mining activities.

Although some area residents claim Pacific Rim is behind the killings, the mining firm last June 27th denied all. In a statement on its web site it said it was being “libeled and falsely accused of involvement in the horrible murder of Juan Francisco Durán Ayala” and “(we) abhor violence in any form.”

“We condemn the unjust accusations being made against us and point out they are being made by the same opposition leadership who have organized and funded armed invasions of our Santa Rita project, threatened our employees and community supporters, and destroyed our property,” Pacific Rim continued. “To the credit of our people, we have never retaliated against those who have perpetrated violence against us.”

Because the Salvadoran government never approved the firm’s environmental impact study, thus denying it permission to launch actual mining operations, Pacific Rim sued the government for $77 million under the 2005 Central American Free Trade Agreement(CAFTA). This allows corporations to file claims against actions that reduce the value of their investment, The Nation article points out. “The affected farmers and communities are not part of the calculus,” the authors write, and the dispute is liable to go to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, housed in the World Bank in Washington.

Pacific Rim’s brief, Broad and Cavanagh write, lays out how the Canadian-based mining firm “first incorporated in the Cayman Islands to escape taxes, then brazenly lobbied Salvadoran officials to shape policies to benefit the firm, and only after that failed, in 2007 reincorporated one of its subsidiaries in the United States to use CAFTA to sue El Salvador.

It appears strange to this writer that a mining firm which in recent years has reported zero income and states that at the end of 2009 its total assets were valued only at $8 million, has had so great an impact in El Salvador where a 2007 poll showed 62 percent of the public opposed mining, as do leaders of the Catholic church and many small business operators.

In a statement on its Web site, Pacific Rim claims that its proposed mine “would be an environmentally responsible operation that would provide hundreds of jobs and economic development to one of the poorest regions of the country. The company notes that dewatering activities in the mine would produce substantial amounts of water, which would be treated to meet international guidelines before being discharged to the Rio San Francisco.”

In the last analysis, the fight over El Salvador’s water resources boils down to a struggle of a foreign mining firm whose extraction goals are opposed by the majority of El Salvador’s people. Is there any question of how this battle should come out?


Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based reporter and public relations consultant who formerly worked as a publicist for the water department of a large U.S. city and has written about water pollution. Reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com.

Bookmark and Share

Related Posts:

Short URL: http://www.veteranstoday.com/?p=136999

The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VT or any other VT authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors or partners. Legal Notice

Posted by on Sep 3 2011, With 0 Reads, Filed under Of Interest. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Get Your Loan Now
Apply for VA Loan Now
Education
Get Your Loan Now
Get Your Loan Now
Get Your Loan Now
Apply for your VA Home Loan Now
Apply for your VA Home Loan Now
Apply for your VA Home Loan Now
Apply for Jobs on HireVeterans.com Now
Apply for Jobs on HireVeterans.com Now
Apply for Jobs on HireVeterans.com Now

COMMENTS

To post, we ask that you login using Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail in the box below.
Don't have a social network account? Register and Login direct with VT and post.
Before you post, read our Comment Policy - Feedback


Comments Closed

Comments are closed

 

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Join Our Daily Newsletter
  View Newsletter ARCHIVE

WHAT'S HOT

  1. Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – April 18, 2014
  2. Local Veterans Look For Work at Jobs Fair
  3. Putin Speaks
  4. Iran’s Focus on Defensive Weapons has Paid off Big
  5. CIA has blood on hands in Ukraine: Analyst
  6. Black Sun Rising — Part 5
  7. Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – April 17, 2014
  8. Syrian opposition’s call on US, act of desperation
  9. Second Exodus: Israelites vs. Muslim Brotherhood
  10. VA Witch Hunt Leads to Veterans Suicides
  11. Uncle Sanchez from New York is Racist
  12. President Barack Obama, America’s Pol Pot
  13. Duplicitous Human Rights Misinformation on Ukraine
  14. Sen. Feinstein Rewards Rich Cronies at The Expense of Homeless Veterans
  15. Now is the Time to Enact the Wanta National Recovery Plan for Our Great Nation America
  16. US sanctions against Crimean officials are ‘silly, embarrassing’
  17. Independent 2013 Survey Shows Veterans Highly Satisfied with VA Care
  18. ‘MH370 call exposing 9/11 cover-up?’
  19. NEO – Putin puts Ukraine gas payments on Europe’s back
  20. Challenging the “Holocaust Uniqueness” Doctrine (Part V)
  1. LC: Back to stone age & because electricity won’t function once nukes are deployed worldwide explained in this recent lecture- Islam, Russia, Crimea & The End Times By Sheikh Imran Hosein ...
  2. LC: Malaysia 370 seen on American desert!!!- Last night a caller to the Coast-to-Coast program claimed to have seen the hijacked plane fly low 3 weeks ago at low altitude of around ...
  3. guitargirl: Well Chandler, that is exactly right what you say about the supposedly box-cutter-killers! Please listen to Mike Harris' show on 4-14-14 with Gordon Duff (when Mr. Duff is on I am ...
  4. Charlotte NC Bill: The E. Orthodox Church IS the Church of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia...the E. Orthodox and the remnant of anti-Vatican II Catholics are the only Christians left....so to be anti-Orthodox AND be ...
  5. Grenada: Ann I agree with everything you mentioned except that the American taxpayer pays for it; in fact it's the "rest of the world" that finances it via the petrodollar. And guess ...

Veterans Today Poll

When will the New World Order One World Government officially be announced?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Archives