MAC/20: Mines and Communities

El Salvador: pregnant woman activist assassinated

Published by MAC on 2009-12-30
Source: CISPES, Media Coop

Link alleged to Canadian mining company

Last week, another mine opponent was assassinated in El Salvador - just a week after Ramiro Rivera was killed in an ambush. See:

Thirty two year old Dora "Alicia" Recinos Sorto, eight months pregnant, was returning home from washing clothes in a river when she was shot.

Both murders have been linked to Canada's Pacific Rim mining company, which had been ordered out of the area following local community resistance and by order of the El Salvadorean government. 


Another anti-mining activist slain in El Salvador

Appeal by CISPES National Office

28 December 2009

Compañeras y compañeros,

We are very sad to inform you that another anti-mining activist has been assassinated in Cabañas, El Salvador.

On Saturday, Dora "Alicia" Recinos Sorto was shot by hitmen as she returned from washing clothes in the river. She was 32 years old and 8 months pregnant.

This follows the killings of two other prominent anti-mining activists this year: Ramiro Rivera, shot dead in an ambush on December 20, and Marcelo Rivera, disappeared, tortured, and ultimately found dead in June.

There is truly an emergency right now in Cabañas, and CISPES and other solidarity allies will continue to follow the unfolding of events, increase pressure on authorities to protect environmental activists, and take other actions in the coming weeks.

Attached is a press release that we hope you can help distribute to your media contacts (it's also on the CISPES website):

Also, continues to provide excellent coverage of the spate of violence in El Salvador and below are three articles, including Jason Wallach's recent story about Recinos Sorto's murder, much of which was taken from accounts by another prominent Salvadoran anti-mining activist, Hector Berrios.

Finally, on our website there is also information in Spanish, including the press release by the Mesa Nacional Frente a la Mineria -

See also a press release by CISPES about the Ramiro Rivera assassination -

Please stay tuned for more updates and alerts, and thanks to everyone who already responded to our action alert from last week targeting the Salvadoran attorney generals office .

In solidarity,

CISPES National Office
The Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador is based in Washington DC

Another Protester of Pacific Rim Mining Corporation's El Dorado Site Assassinated in El Salvador

Second community activist killed in less than a week


28 December 2009

On December 26, Dora "Alicia" Recinos Sorto, age 32, was assassinated, the second anti-mining activist killed this week in the small community of Nueva Trinidad in the department of Cabañas.

Recinos Sorto was eight months pregnant and carrying her two-year old child when she was shot on her way back from doing laundry at a nearby river. She and her husband, José Santos Rodríguez, were outspoken opponents of the non-operational El Dorado mine which Pacific Rim, a Vancouver-based mining company is desperate to reopen despite widespread community opposition.

Rodríguez is a board member of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas, an organization that formed to educate the community about health and environmental risks of cyanide contamination from gold extraction.

The Committee's vice-president, Ramiro Rivera, was gunned down on December 20 despite having been under 24-hour police protection since being shot eight times in August.

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes vowed to investigate the murder, stating, "I hope this case will not remain in impunity the way that so many others do." These attacks follow the late June kidnapping, torture and assassination of Marcelo Rivera (no relation), in the nearby municipality of San Isidro.

Earlier this year, Recinos Sorto reported that her husband was receiving death threats and that unidentified men had come looking for him at their home. Oscar Menjívar, the man accused of shooting Rivera in August, had previously attacked Rodríguez with a small machete.

Menjívar's neighbors report that he was one of Pacific Rim Mining's paid "promoters". According to Rodríguez, "It is Pacific Rim who is responsible for this, because Oscar and I were great friends before they arrived. They are the source of all of this."

The ongoing violence in Cabañas, including assaults, attempted kidnappings and death threats, seems to be centered around the controversial presence of Pacific Rim Mining in the region, with prominent anti-mining leaders coming under attack.

Pacific Rim ceased operations at El Dorado after local protests forced the company out and the Salvadoran government subsequently denied extraction permits.

President Funes also stated his opposition to the project during his presidential campaign earlier this year and University of Central America polls show that over 62% of the population opposes gold mining.

In response, Pacific Rim opened an investor-state arbitration case against the Salvadoran government in April under the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA (Pacific Rim filed the suit through a recently acquired subsidiary, Pac Rim Cayman, based in Reno, Nevada.)

According to Pacific Rim CEO Thomas Shrake, the company is seeking "hundreds of millions" of dollars in the arbitration, which is scheduled to begin in early 2010.

In November, Pacific Rim received notice from the New York Stock Exchange that it is in danger of being delisted after posting net losses for five straight years; the company then announced that it will seek to generate CDN $2.36 million by selling shares of stock to finance its legal case against the Salvadoran government. The company does not have any other mining projects in operation.

Contact: Alexis Stoumbelis, CISPES - (978) 394-0425

Pregnant Anti-Mining Activist Assassinated in El Salvador; Second opponent to Pacific Rim slain this week


27 December 2007

Nearly two years ago, he lost two fingers because he opposed a Canadian-owned gold mine in Cantina Trinidad, El Salvador. Yesterday, Jose Santos Rodriguez lost his wife, some say for the same reason.

Dora Alicia Sorto Recinos, 32, was shot and killed yesterday at 3:30 pm when she was returning home from doing laundry in a nearby river. She was eight months pregnant. Her son, who was accompanying her, was shot in the foot.

Santos Rodriguez is a farmer and active member of the Environmental Committee of Cabanas (CAC), a citizen group in opposition to Pacific Rim's proposed El Dorado gold mine. In April, 2008, he was attacked by Oscar Menjivar, a neighbour who had relationships with local mayors who supported the mine. In the attack, Menjivar cut off two of Santos Rodriguez' fingers with a machete.

According to a press release by Movimiento Unificado Francisco Sánchez-1932 (MUFRAS-32), Sorto Recinos had recently informed MUFRAS-32 that men with rifles had come to her house, looking for her husband. He was not home at the time.

The assassination of Sorto Recinos is the second murder this week of an opponent to Pacific Rim's proposed El Dorado mine, and the latest in a string of assassinations of civilian opponents to Canadian mining projects in Latin America.

Ramiro Rivera Gomez was shot and killed on December 20, in spite of 24-hour police protection.

MUFRAS-32 says the community is most alarmed by the lack of police investigation into these crimes. There have been no arrests for Rivera Gomez' assassination, and the community sees only "the most serious lack of will in discovering the causes of these murders," according to the release.

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