Melbourne, Australia - In May 2013, the Maritime Union of Australia took part in an International Fact Finding Mission to El Salvador.

The study group came from a broad group of countries and backgrounds to the most densely populated country in Central America and began with a two day seminar at the University of Central America. We met with various groups and members of the National Roundtable Against Metal Mining - La Mesa. 

El Salvador had not issued any mining permits since 2008 and we were made aware of the water crisis facing the country and the threats and assassinations against people and groups opposed to mining. 

We gave a guarantee we would give our solidarity and support to the people we met in El Salvador, that had been struggling to defend their environment and live dignified lives.

In September 2013 PacificRim, the company that had filed an Investor State Dispute Settlement case against El Salvador for $300m had been brought out by OceanaGold, an Australian Canadian company whose headquarters were in Melbourne. 

We arranged for Vidalina Morales of ADES from Cabañas in El Salvador who had been at the forefront in the fight against mining to visit Australia. Vidalina gave radio interviews and spoke to meetings all over Australia and at what was the first rally out front of OceanaGold’s office in Collins Street Melbourne. 

Since then we have held over 51 rallies outside their office. At every rally we name the courageous people whose blood was spilt in defence of their community.

Marcelo Rivera

Ramiro Rivera

Felicita Escheverria

Dora Alicia Recinos Soto and her unborn child

Jose Duran

These are not statistics but people whose names need to be heard by the people making decisions in their boardrooms of Collins Street.

Congratulations to El Salvador for their victory against this avaricious mining company but we are aware the damages awarded to them did not account for their costs in this case. We believe its treasonous for any country to hand over their sovereignty to a Washington tribunal of bankers.

To La Mesa and the groups that agitated for El Salvador’s 2017 legislation to ban mining we congratulate you. We will continue to give our solidarity and support to you until OceanaGold and its subsidiary companies leave El Salvador.

We can learn from you, that we can live without gold but we cannot live without water.