Karla Rodas - Vanguardia
El Salvador is among the ten most vulnerable countries in the world due to its geographical position and environmental conditions such as deforestation, limited access to water and human commercial activity.
These conditions have left as a legacy the pollution that magnifies the impacts of climate change and worsens the living conditions for the population that suffers its consequences.
Faced with these threats, the Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES) and the Office of the Prosecutor for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH) announced a Follow-up Report to address the impacts of the San Sebastián Mine, located in the municipality of Santa Rosa de Lima, department of La Unión.
These recommendations aim to ensure that the appropriate public institutions promote concrete actions to allow progress in the remediation, design and implementation of policies to deal with the main human rights challenges arising in the area. These challenges are mainly connected to pending environmental remediation and implementing alternative economic activities for artisanal miners, known as "güiriseros".
El Salvador made history in March 2017, when the Legislative Assembly banned metal mining in all its forms. But the problem of the San Sebastián mine, which for decades has been exploited by artisanal miners, is still unresolved. In fact, according to the mining prohibition law, the artisan miners would have had two years to look for alternative economic activities with the support of the Ministry of Economy.
“We have followed up, in 2017 the Legislative Assembly decreed the Law against mining exploration and exploitation. As a result of this law, some considerations have to be taken into account, especially in the case of the San Sebastián Mine, due to the impact of water contamination on the local population” explained the Human Rights Ombudsman, Raquel Caballero.
Environmental and social organizations have submitted several proposals to the Legislative Assembly in order to achieve more effective and adequate environmental protection. These initiatives have been supported by the PDDH because they are considered fair. One of these proposals has been the “Special Law for the Prohibition of Metal Mining in El Salvador”.
For her part, Vidalina Morales, a leading environmental leader, stressed that the environmental issue is of great concern to the communities that resisted the development of mining projects for more than 12 years.
She also considered that the government has the obligation to provide information on the companies that explore and exploit the land.
Translated by: Giada Ferrucci