Gloria Orellana : CoLatino
We thank the grace of God for having won at the ICSID where El Salvador was being sued by OceanaGold/Pacific Rim company. "An applause for the people" said in emotional words Monsignor José Elías Rauda, Bishop of the Diocese Of San Vicente, at a mass officiated in the church Santa Barbara, in Sensuntepeque, Cabañas.
"Mining is not a matter of left or right but of life or death, and as the Holy Father said, we inhabit the Common House that teaches us to love life and respect it because the fruits that God were created for everyone. We want the Legislative Assembly to hear us, let the government hear us, let the whole world hear us, we do not want mining, nor privatize our water resources," he preached.
The National Roundtable Against Metal Mining (MNFM) held a festival to announce the content of the "arbitration award" issued by the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) after seven years of litigation by Pacific Rim (Oceana Gold) that sued the state for $250 million dollars.
The ruling of the ICSID favors El Salvador and has ordered the transnational mining company to pay $8 million to cover part of the legal costs.
Emilia, who lived part of the armed conflict during the 1980s as a refugee in Mesa Grande, Honduras, and is now a member of the Santa Marta Community, expressed her joy at the result of the arbitration award and said that together with her community they proved that they were right.
"Around 1981, we crossed the Lempa River. We arrived in Honduras. We were in La Virtud and then in Mesa Grande. We lived six years out of the country, then we repopulated Santa Marta and we lived in peace until the Pacific Rim arrived. What's more shocking is that environmentalists were murdered, even a pregnant woman. It was very hard for us, we're still moved by the pain of those deaths, which is the pain of the organized communities. That was the main thing that helped us prove we were right: we defend life, "he said.
On the "award", lawyer Saúl Baños, from FESPAD, who is a member of the National Roundtable Against Mining, acknowledged that the ICSID decision is the result of a sustained and pertinent work of the communities of Cabañas and the accompaniment by Environmental, legal and human rights organizations.
"It was a very important work but above all, relevant because these social movements of the communities had resonance at a global level; in such a way that the ICSID gave the reason to the population of El Salvador to oppose the operations of Pacific Rim mining. We have also had support from international organizations that helped us through these nine years, what is left is that OceanaGold tell us how they intend to pay the eight million dollars, which the ICSID determined should pay El Salvador, "he said.
The event was defined as an action of empowerment of the population by the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining that seeks to generate lines of communication for communities to reiterate their message to El Dorado Foundation and Torogoz Minerals(subsidiaries of OceanaGold) to leave the territory and allow people to live in a healthy environment.
The event was attended by Gloria Yanet de Molina, Deputy Governor of Cabañas, who reiterated in her speech the commitment of President of the Republic, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, that there will be no mining during his term.
"The government of President Sánchez Cerén is convinced that we can not talk about territorial development, if we are not going to take into account the environment as a whole to contribute to the philosophy of Good Living that as government we are promoting in Cabañas and the national territory," she said.
The organizations that make up the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining reiterated their commitment to continue working for the well-being of the population and its immediate environment and search for national, local or regional authorities to preserve natural resources and respect the way of life of all peoples.
"As National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining we want to give recognition to every woman, man, boy, girl, who went out to defend their right to life and against the mining company, and we are going to celebrate the great triumph of a people and honor the memory of Marcelo, Ramiro, Dora and her unborn child," said Héctor Berrios, of MUFRAS.
During the event, a copy of the ICSID "arbitration award" was given to the relatives of the environmentalists killed and while defense lawyer, Luis Parada, invited people not to leave the fight for the rights of the population.
"We are all proud to have been able to represent the State of El Salvador in the face of the threat of PacificRim / OceanaGold, God allowed the justice of man to go together and achieve a victory that belongs to you, because it was here were resistance to metal mining initiated and spread to other territories who adopted it to defend its integrity, a pride of the people," he said.