Members of the Executive Committee
Legislative Assemble of El Salvador
Dear Members of the Legislative Assembly:
The undersigned members of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador, return to you again exercising our right to petition enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic, to establish the following:
1 - The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining for more than eight years has been informing officials of different institutions government, media, communities affected by different mining projects and the Salvadoran population in general that metal mining is one of the world's most predatory industries due to the use of polluting chemicals such as cyanide, and that its ultimate impact results in polluted waters. According the environmental impact study presented by Canadian mining company Pacific Rim, its el Dorado project located in San Isidro, Cabañas, could be using up to 10.4 liters of water per second, equivalent to about 327, 970.000 liters of water per year.
2 - The organizations that make up La Mesa and other civil society organizations have technically and scientifically demonstrated in many occasions that metal mining is not compatible with socio-environmental reality in our country and that this industry would not bring substantial benefits. The number of jobs produced by mining and economic benefits become irrelevant compared to the negative impact on health and the environment caused by the industry. An example of this is the San Sebastian mine in La Union, where mining implemented decades ago has left the community without water and with serious and very complicated diseases, contaminated soil, loss of biodiversity and a compromised food chain with serious cases of contamination that cannot be reversed.
3 - The environmental movement has insisted that metal mining should be prohibited in El Salvador because it is an expression of an unfair, predatory and violent development model that only benefits large transnational corporations while leaving disease, poverty and misery in countries where minerals are exploited. Mining companies like Pacific Rim and Commerce Group, are suing the Salvadoran state for more than $ 400 million in international courts, acting under local Investment Law and the Free Trade Agreements signed by El Salvador, proving once again that only thing the care about is money.
4 - Our rejection of both open-pit and underground mining is based on our conviction that this industry, considered one of the most predatory for the environment, will not contribute to the sustainability of the country, on the contrary it will further encroach poverty, environmental destruction, violence, inequality and repression, as has happened with other Central American countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, that have allowed mining projects in their territories.
With this clarity about metal mining, we are once again remind you that La Mesa has, since December 2006, proposed a draft bill to ban metal mining in El Salvador. To date, there has been no answer to our demand, and the general population’s demand to enact this law as a law of the Republic. Meanwhile, the concerns that have generated our struggle remain latent:
To date, metal mining remains a threat to the Salvadoran population and its natural resources as well as the more than 40 cross-border mining projects that threaten to contaminate our country, especially the Lempa River considered the backbone of our country’s water supply.
Transnational mining companies are still considering claims before ICSID as a form of extortion against the Salvadoran government for not granting mining permits. Pacific Rim ICSID recently increased their demand from 77 to 315 million dollars.
Environmental activists have been killed in Cabañas and many remain under death threat for their fight in defense of human rights and the environment.
As National Roundtable Against Mining we demand the adoption of a law prohibiting metal mining throughout the country, the passing of this law would give legitimacy and a moral stand to the Salvadoran government to require Guatemala and Honduras to suspend mining projects located n the borders or in areas of environmental, cultural and economic importance such as the Trifinio Biosphere which exemplifies collaboration among the three countries. With the ban on mining also would end the persecution of environmental activists and journalists from Radio Victoria environmentalists and claims before international tribunals.
In this regard we respectfully demand:
- That this correspondence with the annexed Special Law to Ban Metal Mining is admitted.
- That the Committee on the Environment and Climate Change start as soon as possible the discussion of the new proposed Special Law metallic mining ban and that it emits a positive resolution for legislative approval.
- That members of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining be convened to participate in the legislative
For further correspondence we declare the following address: CRIPDES Offices, located at Final 23 Calle Poniente #1523 , Colonia Layco, San Salvador.