Sin título-7


On Friday October 7th, on the eve of the World Bank’s fall meeting, people around the world will demand that a tribunal of the World Bank Group’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to release a favorable decision for El Salvador on the Pac Rim Cayman LLC vs El Salvador case.   

Solidarity actions with the National Roundtable Against Mining in El Salvador will be held in El Salvador, Washington, Toronto, Melbourne and the Philippines to demand that: 

1. The World Bank Group’s ICSID immediately release a favorable decision that will finally vindicate the people of El Salvador and will allow their government to recover all legal expenses. 

2. OceanaGold immediately discontinue all of its operations in El Salvador, including its Salvadoran subsidiaries Minerales Torogoz and El Dorado Exploraciones, along with the bogus El Dorado Foundation, which demonstrates utter disrespect for the broad opposition to mining in the communities, and could escalate the potential for conflict and further violence levels already been seen when Pacific Rim operated there.

We support the President of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, who has stated that he remains firm in his commitment not to grant mining concessions.  

In 2009, the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim launched a frivolous ICSID lawsuit against the government of El Salvador after the president announced an administrative freeze on mining permits.  Pacific Rim conveniently failed to mention the fact that it had failed to meet regulatory requirements to obtain a permit for its El Dorado project. Instead, it sued the government, demanding compensation for future profits foregone.

Given the circumstances, ICSID shouldn’t have accepted the case, but it allowed it to proceed.  In 2013, Pacific Rim, a company without any real assets except the hope of mining in El Salvador, ran into financial troubles in 2012 after it failed to raise the money needed to continue the costly suit . Between 2012 and 2013, British Columbia-registered and Melbourne-headquartered OceanaGold bought Pacific Rim, whose main asset was the suit against El Salvador, for only US$14 million. And thus, the PacRim case at ICSID, now funded by OceanaGold, continued. 

While claiming to be environmentally friendly and socially responsible, OceanaGold is in reality a gold mining company with a track record of human rights violations, notably in the Philippines. Forceful displacement, corruption, tax evasion and contamination are crimes that government authorities in the province Nueva Vizcaya have attributed to the company concerning its Didipio mine. 

In El Salvador, the company has upped its claim against El Salvador, to US$250 million. And, in Cabañas, OceanaGold continues to work through its deceptive and dangerous foundation in that claims to do “social responsibility” work, but is really a PR front for the company that could be laying the foundations for violent conflict.

It is now seven and a half years since the law suit against El Salvador was brought to ICSID and more than two years since the ICSID tribunal held hearings on the merits where both sides presented final arguments to the arbitrating panel. Four months ago, El Salvador and OceanaGold were informed that the three panel members had reached a decision, which was being translated to Spanish. Yet, a verdict has yet to be made public. It has become public knowledge that OceanaGold requested a delay in the ruling, so that it could try – fortunately unsuccessfully – to reach a negotiated agreement with the Salvadoran government. Although El Salvador opposed the request for a delay, and thus OceanaGold's request could not be granted officially, the tribunal has not yet released its final decision, effectively delaying the ruling, as OceanaGold wanted.

It is high time for ICSID to release the decision.

“We consider it an act of contempt against the will of the people of El Salvador who have clearly demonstrated their opposition to metal mining when executives of OceanaGold request that ICSID delay the release of the decision,” said Vidalina Morales, president of the Association for the Socio Economic Development of El Salvador (ADES) and member of the National Roundtable Against Mining in El Salvador. 

“We have asked our allies around the world to denounce the ICSID for pandering to corporate interests and to remind the company that mining-affected communities in El Salvador are accompanied by civil society organizations including NGOs, universities, student groups, social movements, and faith organizations, such as the Catholic Church, and the democratically elected government of El Salvador to say no to mining.” 

A recent poll conducted by the University of Central America in El Salvador indicates that 79.5% of Salvadorans believe El Salvador not to be an appropriate country for metallic mining. This is why we members of International Allies stand with Salvadoran people and La Mesa in releasing this statement and saying : Yes to Life, No to Mining.
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