New acts of violence and intimidation against members of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining

Press release - July 02, 201new acts3

The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining is an alliance of social, religious, NGOs, environmentalists, and community organizations.  Since 2006, we have opposed metallic mining operation in El Salvador. Throughout these years various expressions of violence and abuses against people who make up our coalition have been committed without proper investigations and successful prosecutions of its perpetrators. In the archives of the Attorney General's Office and National Civil Police complaints of murder, death threats, persecution, kidnappings and robberies against colleagues who are part of our organization lie stagnant.  Seven years into the struggle to oppose mining in the country, these threats continue to escalate.

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Archbishop of El Salvador suggests the use international mechanisms to solve dispute over mine

ACAN EFE News Agency, El Salvador

The Archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar, suggested Sunday that the government should go to international organizations if the threat from a gold mine in Guatemala that could contaminate water in El Salvador is not resolved bilaterally.

SAN SALVADOR - The Catholic leader said in his Sunday press conference El Salvador "would have to go to international justice mechanisms" if the government can not prevent a mine which may cause damage in El Salvador.

Salvadoran environmental organizations have complained that the Cerro Blanco mine, located in Jutiapa, Guatemala, could contaminate the lake Güija and Lempa River, the largest river in this country.

The mine, owned by Canadian mining corporation GoldCorp Inc. is still on its exploration phase.

Escobar made a "call" to the government and Salvadoran members of the legislature to "have this resolved", although he acknowledged that the government “is taking action" on the case.

If it is argued that "it cannot be resolved" because "it is a problem of Guatemala", the fact is "that it affects us because we drink this water," said the Archbishop of San Salvador.

"It is not possible that economic benefits trump the health of an entire nation, never mind the death it will cause… It is not possible that in this XXI century we are caught in a legal and social entanglement that cannot be afforded" he insisted.

The foreign ministers of El Salvador Hugo Martinez and Fernando Carrera of Guatemala have been in dialogue about the case of the mine, according to a statement last February by the Salvadoran official.

Escobar said the Salvadoran Catholic Church supports the issuance of new water and mining laws, pending in the Legislature for several months.

The church is "in favor of defending the argument of saying no mining exploitation" and hopes that a new law "will protect natural resources" of El Salvador, he added.

"It is not right with these resources are taken away and (...) while the cyanide, and a poisoned a nation are left behind" added the archbishop.

El Salvador has suspended mining projects by government decision, but environmental organizations and other sectors demand mining to be banned permanently by law.

Translated from


People of El Salvador celebrate World Environment Day

Thousands of people hailing from different regions of El Salvador marched through San Salvador this morning to urge the government to stop metallic mining and to approve legislation to protect water in the country.

The Ecological Walk wWEDas organized by a coalition of environmental and religious organizations in commemoration of World Environment Day, WED - designated by the United Nations Environment Programme in 1973 to promote awareness on the importance of preserving our biodiversity and to find ways to take corrective action on issues related to climate change, environmental degradation and sustainability. WED’s theme this year focused on reducing the amount of food is wasted around the globe.

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Salvadoran Indigenous leader Shandur Kuátzin Makwilkali

Salvadoran Indigenous leader Shandur Kuátzin Makwilkali


"This is not Cabañas," said Shandur Kuátzin Makwilkali, gesturing around the room and out the window at the wooded slope, but meaning the entire region of that name. He had been describing the growth of indigenous associations throughout this mainly rural department in northern El Salvador, adding:

"Guakotekti is its true name, not the militarily imposed name of Cabañas. Guakotekti is its good name."

Shandur is President of the National Federation of Indigenous Peoples of El Salvador, which works to resuscitate the vitality of indigenous cultures in a part of Central America where they have been systematically and brutally suppressed. The challenge is significant:

"We don't have enough unity, solidarity", he laments, before returning to the positive: "But now we have a federation, present in 14 departments, with 10,000 members."

The Federation celebrated its first anniversary on 21 January this year. In addition to its remarkable growth, the indigenous movement has established a small University of the Indigenous Peoples of El Salvador, teaching four courses lasting for three and four years. Students can study courses in indigenous medicine, the Nahuat language, indigenous administration, and biculturalism.

Another development is the Cooperative Association of Savings, Credit, Consumption, Housing and Farming of the Nahuat-Pipil Nation. The Federation, University, and Cooperative make up the three branches of the movement that seek to mobilize, educate, and overcome the economic poverty of the indigenous communities.

According to Shandur an unequal distribution of land ownership limits how much can be accomplished in raising living standards, and the Government has been unwilling to engage in negotiations on the question of returning indigenous land.

"Our philosophy as indigenous peoples is to have our land, as she is our mother", Shandur says. "We need to have our land, to have our fruit, rather than money."

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