Community of San Jose Las Flores commemorates 11th anniversary of the defeat of a mining company.

By P. Cabezas

As the morning sun rises on the town of San Jose las Flores, members of the community prepare for the annual pilgrimage to the Urbina Hills, the site that once was the main exploration point for a gold mining project.  Even though mining activity has been idle in over a decade, residents of Las Flores and surrounding communities make a religious journey through the mountains every September 14th, the eve of Independence Day in El Salvador, to commemorate the day the company was expelled.    

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Mega projects unite social movements from Honduras and El Salvador

Gloria Orellana – CoLatino.

Berta Caceres' murder did not fall on "deaf ears", peasant and indigenous organizations from Honduras and El Salvador have decided, under a banner of solidarity, to unite to fight against mining, monoculture and the protection of water and ecosystems.

Abel Lara, coordinator of the October 12 - Popular Resistance Movement of El Salvador, said that the meeting of different peasant and indigenous movements from Honduras and El Salvador was to assess the reality and experiences that both nations face in relation to "megaprojects" that generate forced migration of populations, pollution and theft of natural resources.

 "The struggle of Berta and the people of Honduras was hopeful, but she was killed cruelly and we know that the US is indirectly involved, as they have been intensifying their interventions in the region," he said.

The "binational meeting" of social organizations, environmentalists and indigenous peoples took place in the mountains of Arcatao, Chalatenango, where they sought consensus to unify their struggles against Mega Projects in Central America.

Lara said that the decision to unite both social agendas will allow for the construction of communication and mobilization tools for organizations to defend through direct action any rural and indigenous communities that may be threatened.

"Big megaprojects will enter our region under the Alliance for Prosperity of the Northern Triangle are of concern, we know their strategy is to seize the unique remaining natural resources, such as water and mining projects that utilize thousands of cubic meters per day, and is also the forced migration of peoples ", he argued.

By joining forces and sharing demands, Lara said, we can build an identity and as such develop the capacity to dialogue and negotiate with government authorities and transnational corporations who often introduce their projects without consulting with the people.

"The Neoliberal economic model applied in the region has abandoned our people and specifically the rural sector and indigenous peoples. Why?, the neoliberal development model only brings exploitation of natural resources, but does provide  sustainble development for the people, so women and men have raised in resistance and to propose our own vision of development and life, which is definitely linked to respect for nature," he said.

Tomas Gomez Membreño, who is the acting Coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) after the murder of Berta Caceres, expressed that we have the challenge to integrate social struggles and spread them throughout Central America.

"By speaking of a common struggle in Central America, we take a major step, because we see the same patterns of criminalization of social movements and popular struggles; and the dispossession of indigenous lands, and concessions and privatizations that are pushed through, multinational and local companies, "he said.

Application of Convention NO. 169 by Domestic and International Courts in Latin America

International Labour Organization

The Convention No. 169 is a central element of the contemporary international normative framework for the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples. This is a compilation of judicial decisions that have relied on ILO Convention No. 169 in ten Latin American countries. The information provided in this Casebook will be useful for judges, lawyers and legal educators, is a source of information for indigenous and tribal peoples, and is a way to share experiences of Latin America with international stakeholders.

 http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---normes/documents/publication/wcms_123946.pdf

Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ Rights in Practice, a guide to ILO Convention No. 169

International Labour Organization

The International Labour Organization adopted the Indigenous and Tribal People’s Convention (ILO Convention No. 169) in 1989, which has been ratified by 20 countries. Convention No. 169 was developed to protect self-identified indigenous people and attempts to address all key aspects of indigenous peoples’ rights. This is a guide to provide governments, indigenous and tribal peoples, and organizations with a tool for implementing indigenous peoples’ rights. 

http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@ed_norm/@normes/documents/publication/wcms_106474.pdf