Alfredo Carias: Vanguardia

In the midst of an important victory in El Salvador, an evaluation of the social and environmental conditions in the country contrasts to the achievements obtained with the prohibition of mining.

According to the Salvadoran authorities, progress has been made in the area of ​​environmental protection, although they acknowledge that there is still a lot to be done, said Ángel Ibarra, Vice Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN).

"In the first place, despite the fact that the political right of the country has wanted to financially suffocate this government and abort a government where “Good Living” represents our development paradigm, this plan has survived. Social and environmental strategies have not been abandoned: the plan we have developed with greater impact is the national plan for restoration and reforestation" the official said.

In the year 2017 the most outstanding victory without a doubt is the approval of the Law of Prohibition of Metal Mining, although this achievement also represents more challenges for the environmental movement explained Pedro Cabezas facilitator of the Central American Alliance against Mining (ACAFREMIN) and memebr of the International Allies.

"The most important victory this year is the approval of the Prohibition of Metal Mining Law, a fight that took place for more than 12 years, which transcended from local communities to the international level- But we have pending challenges from of the mining prohibition in terms of compensation for the victims of violations of human rights and justice for the families of those environmental defenders murdered in Cabañas ", concluded Cabezas.

Environmental organizations also claim that the damage to the health of the population and the pollution of the rivers of the Salvadoran coastal areas, as a result of the indiscriminate use of agro toxic chemicals, has put a black mark on the environmental agenda. The use of the these deadly products lack strong stated control, thus becoming a silent epidemy that advances exponentially, warned the activist Sonia Hernandez of the Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES).

"We are being affected by the aerial fumigations because the sugar cane production is close to our homes and the burning of sugarcane fields contaminates our water, our farm animals and the crops," said Hernández.

Five sugar refineries of the country operate in Tecoluca: Central Izalco, Ingenuity Jiboa-Corsain, Hacienda El Angel, La Cabaña and Chaparrastique. These refineries have advanced established a monoculture of sugarcane and have invaded over 10 thousand hectares of land and have destroyed what previously were forests, protected mangroves and basic grain crops in, said Patrocinio Dubón, president of the Lower Lempa Water Association.

In addition, water defenders and environmentalists have suffered criminalization by the Salvadoran authorities. Community leaders of Tacuba were found guilty and sentenced to pay fines for a crime they did not commit, explained Karen Ramírez, representative of the Water Forum.

"We regret the decision of the judge to convict six of the nine community leaders and forced to pay a fine, we reproach that the judicial system lends itself to the persecution of water defenders," said Ramírez.

El Salvador concludes 2017 with a bitter taste victory since, despite having approved a law against metallic mining, there are still other laws that remain in the legislative shelves like the General Water Law and the Law of Food Sovereignty. The lack of interest of legislators, the witch hunt against water defenders as well as the absence of justice for the environmentalist martyrs killed for defending life against mining companies in Cabañas, contribute to an overall environmental balance for el Salvador art the 2017. 

Translated by: Giada Ferrucci

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