New Laws Seek to Limit Mining in El Salvador

By : Cipamericas 

Since 2014, organized farmers from several municipalities of the department of Chalatenango, located in the north of the country, have expressed their full rejection to a mining operation in the area. In November this struggle has represented an important precedent and has compelled the local government to start the process of passing a municipal law that will prohibit companies from exploiting gold and other metals from the mountains.

The four referenda that have taken place in potential mining areas of the country have vindicated the villagers’ position, showing that more than 80% oppose mining. Thanks to popular opposition, the mayor of the municipality of San José Las Flores has begun drafting a municipal order that will prohibit all types of metal extraction in the mountains and forests bordering the municipality.

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El Salvador: Vote Against Gold

Oliver Ristau*: Deutsche Welle / Translation: Marina Bonetti

El Salvador wants to protect its environment and therefore bans mining. The population supports the plan, on the other hand, a Canadian company files a lawsuit before an arbitration tribunal. From El Salvador, Oliver Ristau.

A vote could hardly be any clearer. 99% of the voters in Arcatao, a Municipality in northern El Salvador, said No. There cannot be a gold mine in their region. This is the 4th referendum within the last few months to take place in the smallest Central American country, through which its people have expressed their opposition to gold mining projects.

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A blunt NO to mining in Arcatao, Chalatenango

Gloria Silvia Orellana - CoLatino /Translation - Marina Bonetti

The rough and wrinkled hands of Santos Armendariz are a true reflection of his age and a life dedicated to the fields, without hesitation these marked "No" on the ballot for the referendum to "defend" against metal mining in the municipality of Arcatao, Chalatenango.

Santos comes from a small valley in the canton of Teosinte, Arcatao.  At 84 years of age and with health difficulties, he took most his time to approach a polling station to vote for the local government to issue a "Municipal Ordinance" prohibiting metallic mining in their municipality. "I came to vote because they (the mining company) will destroy the hills and leave me without home. For me this is not good because I will become homeless and without water, true? ... I can die shortly, but what about the little ones that are left" he reflected.

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Arcatao: participatory democracy defeats mining

Marina Bonneti

Successful referendum puts Municipality of Arcatao among the few official Mining-Free Territories in El Salvador

On Sunday, November 8th Arcatao became the fourth Municipality in the Department of Chalatenango to be declared a Mining-Free territory. A public referendum revealed that the large majority of the population rejects the idea of exploration and exploitation projects in its area.

Eight voting centres were set up in the different cantons of the Municipality of Arcatao, in order to make it easier for citizens living in remote locations to express their vote. 

José Avelar, mayor of Arcatao, was proud to announce that 1027 votes were cast, meaning that the turnout was around 67% of the active voting population. Out of these votes, only 3 were “yes” (thus in favor of mining activities), one was a null vote, and the remaining 1023 formed a strong “no” voice. Thus the final result showed that an overwhelming 99% of the population that expressed their opinion is opposed to mining.

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