Members of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in Salvador demanded all presidential candidates to publicly state their parties' position on the issue of mining in the country. “Mining is one of the one of the most aggressive industries that harms biodiversity, public health and the environment,” stated a release from La Mesa.
"We demand the ARENA party and its candidate Norman Quijano, to state clearly where they stand on the issue of metal mining in El Salvador," said Edgardo Mira, director of the Center for Research on Investment (CEICOM), during a press conference in front of the headquarters of the right wing party in San Salvador.
Environmentalists are lobbying for all presidential candidates campaigning for the February 2014 presidential elections to endorse a law proposed by the National Roundtable Against Mining to make El Salvador the first country to prohibit metal mining in the world.
During 20 years of consecutive ARENA governments, concessions for mining explorations projects were granted in El Salvador, 23 licenses are currently active across the northern region including the departments of Cabañas, Chalatenango, Santa Ana, La Unión and Morazán.
In 2009, with the arrival of the Mauricio Funes’ government, a de facto suspension of all exploration and exploitation licenses was implemented due to tremendous public opposition to mining.
Members of La Mesa have said that metallic mining in El Salvador should be prohibited because it is a form of unsustainable economic development that exacerbates already existing inequities in the country. This form of economic activity provides enormous benefits to large foreign corporations while it undermines the states’ ability to implement policies based on public interest and leaves a trail of environmental destruction in a country with a precarious ecological balance.
"We are ready to fight for just development in our communities, we are in a process of denunciation and mobilization to prevent our country to develop metal mining," said Bernardo Belloso, member of the National Roundtable against Mining.
The statements were followed by a letter delivered at ARENA’s headquarters in San Salvador. The facilities were immediately closed when the environmentalists arrived but a representative of the party came out to receive the letter.