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Over 16 environmental and social organizations gathered in the Movement of Victims and People Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC), among them CESTA, Friends of the Earth El Salvador, delivered a petition to the MPs of the Central American country to demand the passing of a bill to ban mining exploitation and Free Trade Agreements. In this special report, Real World Radio shares some of the testimonies of social representatives and their arguments.
The document was delivered on February 7 to the Environment and Climate Change Commission of the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly and was preceded by other social statements in rejection to the mining extractive industry.
MOVIAC considers that there are enough arguments to pass said bill to protect communities and water resources of El Salvador. José Santos Guevara, MOVIAC coordinator, said that the message to lawmakers is to continue a long struggle carried out by communities and environmental organizations of the whole country. According to studies conducted by the José Simeón Cañas University, over 70% of the population is against mining projects in El Salvador.
“In the past few days we´ve seen statements by different sectors, such as the Catholic Church, among others, where they urge political parties to pass a bill against metal mining”, said José Santos Guevara, coordinator of the Movement.
The organizations also requested the Legislative Branch to withdraw El Salvador from Free Trade Agreements, since according to Santos Guevara “it has been proven with the recent experience with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), that despite being right, our countries are adversely affected, because these treaties were designed for the benefit of big corporations”.
The text delivered to MPs includes the following requests:
-To ban the installation in the country of companies that among their activities include metal mining, which is extended to banning all activities that directly or indirectly promote mining or based on social or environmental activities promote mining.
Withdraw El Salvador from Free Trade Agreements since it has been proven with the recent experience with the ICSID, that despite being right, our countries are adversely affected, because these treaties were designed for the benefit of big corporations.
Protect human rights defenders and support families affected for opposing the mining industry
Meanwhile, Rhina Navarrete, member of the Association of Friends of San Isidro, of Cabañas department and member of MOVIAC said that among the most harmful effects of mining in communities we find the division and conflicts among them, often encouraged by the companies themselves.
The activist also said that women are especially affected by metal mining, particularly in their health and domestic economy. “Mining worsens the food and economic problems of our country”, said Rhina Navarrete and she added: “this is a struggle for life at global level”.
In addition, Guillermo Mata, president of the Environment and Climate Change Commission and lawmaker for the Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional (FMLN) party thanked for the contribution of social and environmental organizations that have been fighting for the protection of the environment for years.
“As a party in Parliament we recognize that mining exploitation impacts the health of people, damages the environment and its biodiversity. We share MOVIAC´s view that FTAs should be banned, and this will be discussed within the Environment Commission and it will be integrated into the open file discussion so we hope to have a favorable answer in the near future”, said the MP.
“Far from bringing benefits, these mining industries have negative effects on our country”, said Mata.
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