MAC: Mines and Communities

Statement of Communities and Organizations Confronting Mining Exploitation in El Salvador: Social Or

Published by MAC on 2005-12-15

Statement of Communities and Organizations Confronting Mining Exploitation in El Salvador: Social Organizations and communities of the departments of Santa Ana, Sonsonate, Chalatenango, La Paz, Cojutepeque, San Miguel and Cabañas.

15th December 2005

On December 15, 2005, the Center of Investigation of Commercial Investment (CEICOM) carried out a forum entitled "Transmitting Knowledge, Exchanging Experiences and Setting Positions in the Face of Mining Operations in El Salvador" in the Lutheran Salvadorean University, a forum carried out as part of a series of actions in response to the imminent threat represented by the entry of international companies dedicated to metal mining operations in this country.

Various social organizations and communities from the departments of Santa Ana, Sonsonate, Chalatenango, La Paz, Cojutepeque, San Miguel and Cabañas participated in the forum. Participants and speakers came from Honduras and Guatemala, to share the experiences they have lived in communities affected by the metal mining operations.

At the end, a statement was written and approved by all of the participants and community members, whose main tenet is the firm opposition to activities of metal mining operations, because of the negative environmental impacts and the falacy of the promise that this industry will generate development:

"The communities and organizations, signed below, are all primarily concerned and driven by the respect of our human rights, in particular our rights to life, health, a healthy environment and the sustainability of our communities and ecosystems, and to the people of El Salvador, we state the following:

I. That we have met in the city of San Salvador, members of various communities and institutions of our country, to participate in the forum called "Transmitting Knowlege, Exchanging Experiences and Setting Positions In the Face of Mining Operations in El Salvador."

II. That the participants of the forum all share a great concern for the initiation of activities which permit, primarily in the Northern zone of our country, metal mining operations (gold, silver and other metals.)

III. That it is the unanimous agreement of the participants in this forum to show our strong opposition to metals mining activities in our country.

IV. In particular, the participants of the Forum express our solidarity with the communities of the departments of Chalatenango and Cabañas who are energetically regecting the projects of plunder of resources in these regions, for the following reasons:

a. For the serious negative impacts against our rights to a healthy environment generated by these types of projects which in the process of mining production severely contaminate the rivers and nearby communities owing to the release of wastes waters which include cyanide and sodium, chemicals used in the extraction of gold, silver and other metals.

b. For contamination of the air by the process of metals foundry, which releases gases and dust of heavy metals, emissions which contain sulfur dioxide, arsenic, lead, cadmium and other highly toxic substances.

c. For the grave damages that the water and air contamination will effect on animals and plants of the zone, many of which are used for human consumption, which will cause serious threats to our right to health.

d. For the negative impacts that the air, water, flora and fauna contamination will have on the lives and health of humans.

e. Because the metal mining exploitation will not generate development in the zones where they are immposed - on the contrary, there is proof in other countries, some of them in Central America, of grave damages against human rights caused by these projects.

f. Because the jobs generated by this type of industry are highly risky, are not sustained over time, are temporary, lasting 5-10 years, and the incomes that they provide for a few families do not make up, from any point of view, for the serious impacts on our human rights and enormous devastation of soil and environment.

g. Because the economic "benefits" through royalties paid by the mining companies (1% for the state and 1% for the municipalities), do not begin to compensate from any point of view for the grave damages to environment, quality of life and human rights previously mentioned.

- Because of all this, in view of what we have shown, we express to the Government of the Republic, and particularly to the Ministries of Economy and Environment, the following:

1. That in our country it is necessary to promote projects that generate a true human development with respect to the environment and human dignity, and it is clear that any project that generates severe negative impacts to the environment will cause more poverty and social vulnerability.

2. That the Ministry of Economy cease the awarding of permits of exploration and exploitation of metals mining in our country, because these activities run contrary to the life, health, protection of the environment, the sustainability ouf the ecosystems and to the respect of human rights.

3. That the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources take into consideration the firm opposition demonstrated by representatives of the communities of the municipalities of San Isidro, Guacotecti, Ilobasco, Dolores y Sesuntepeque, and the entire Departament de Cabañas, to the Environmental Impact Report presented by the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim, who are carrying out the mining project "El Dorado." Approval for this study should be denied, as it is highly contaminative and will destroy our habitats.

4. That the Ministery of Environment and Natural Resources carry out faithfully their constitutional mandate to protect the natural resources as well as the diversity and integrity of our environment, in order to guarantee truly sustainable development.

5. That the Government of the Republic of El Salvador promote and respect the participation of the citizens with regards to the social problems and conflicts, principally with respect to situtations who by their nature represent a threat against the lives of communities and ecosystems, and who generate grave violations of human rights."

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