A Road Trip to Save El Salvador’s Water

A delegation of activists from 12 different countries on the fight to stop gold mining in Central America.

Gold Mining Delegation photo by Alejandro LabradorRobin is standing in front of a church in Guatemala with some of the other members of the first international delegation on “gold mining and the defense of water in El Salvador.” We are 44 people from 12 countries who have come to support El Salvador's right to stop environmentally destructive gold mining. We have come as allies of a coalition called the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining (“La Mesa”), and we have traveled just across the border to Guatemala because the source of the Lempa River that supplies most of El Salvador's fresh water is here in the Guatemalan hills.

Goldcorp, one of Canada's largest gold mining firms, is building a mine here. The environmental havoc unleashed by this mine will affect not only Guatemalans, but also Salvadorans who depend on the Lempa’s waters as it meanders through El Salvador on its way to the Pacific Ocean.


International delegation confronts mining in El Salvador

By Raul Burbano

kevin Sn Seb visitMay 10-12 close to 50 delegates representing 22 different organizations from four continents gathered in San Salvador to take part in the first ever international fact-finding mission around the impacts of metallic mining. It was organized by the International Allies Against Mining in El Salvador in collaboration with the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador known as La Mesa; a diverse coalition of organized communities, NGOs, think tanks, and faith based organizations opposing mining.

  Public forum in San Salvador

 The first day of the fact finding mission was composed of a forum at the University of Central America, (UCA) in San Salvador.  The forum gave delegates an opportunity to hear from local and international delegates about the situation of mining in the region and opened up a space for dialogue and exchange of ideas with the general public and representatives of the government.

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Chalk Up Another Victory for "Free Trade": Mining Companies Sue El Salvador


nick alexandrovThe revolutionary Salvadoran writer Roque Dalton once remarked, in his poem “OAS,” that “the President of the United States is more president of my country than the president of my country,” an observation still accurate today, some 45 years after Dalton penned those words.  His life, like those of well over 100,000 Salvadorans in the 20th century, ended violently.  But if assassins hadn’t gunned him down in 1975, he would no doubt agree that North American businessmen should be added to the list of outsiders running his homeland’s affairs.

Consider the cases of Pacific Rim, headquartered in Vancouver, and Milwaukee-based Commerce Group.  These companies claim that El Salvador, by refusing to grant them mining permits given their miserable environmental records, is violating their rights, and consequently “are suing the Salvadoran government for more than $400m,” Meera Karunananthan writes in the Guardian.  The situation calls to mind the late 1940s, when banana executives alleged the Guatemalan government, later toppled in the ’54 coup, was discriminating against United Fruit; perhaps some enterprising grad student will one day produce a study of the stirring, decades-long struggle for corporate liberties.  Throughout modern history, these “rights” have been promoted by what are called “free trade agreements,” though hardly worthy of the name, as a quick review of the relevant—thus suppressed and little-known—history reveals.

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Fact Finding Mission

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The small country of El Salvador and its citizens are caught up in a David vs. Goliath struggle to defend their rights to water, health and sustainable development. Since the early 2000 as many as 10 transnational mining corporations are seeking to extract gold and other precious minerals buried under its northern mountains which provide the main source of clean water, fresh air and local agricultural production for the country. The National Roundtable on Metallic Mining in El Salvador is a diverse coalition of organized communities, NGOs, think tanks, and faith organizations opposing mining has been successful in halting mining operations and in building local and international alliances to support the right of Salvadorans to protect their natural resources. La Mesa an inspiring force in the global resistance against the devastating impacts of resource extractive industries. However their struggle is far from over, as the fight to defend sovereignty and the right to self determination reaches a critical moment, more support and solidarity is required to achieve a successful outcome.


Environmental activists, union leaders, members of human rights and faith groups, policy makers, donors, academics, journalists and those who are interested in building bridges of solidarity with the people of El Salvador and supporting their struggle to put an end to metallic mining.


* Costs participants are expected to incur include their flight to El Salvador and local accommodations.
* Most food and local transportation to field trips will be provided.
* Organizers will be happy to book a hotel on your behalf and/or provide a list of reasonably priced hotels


To register please visit: http://www.stopesmining.org/j25/index.php/registration-form

For more information contact: stopesmining@gmail.com


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Preliminary program


Thursday May 9

  • Afternoon arrival in San Salvador.
  • Evening meal, entertainment and networking session with members of the National Roundtable Against Mining and other civil society organizations. Possibly with a structured discussion around building alliances.

Friday May 10

  • Daytime conference at Central American University(TBC), Segunndo Montes Auditorium, ICAS Building.

8:30-9:00 Registrations and Reception

9:00-9:10 Welcome

9:10-9:30 Opening Remarks - Angel Ibarra

The political reality of El Salvador: Current challenges and opportunities in the defense of the rights to water, and a healthy environment.

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