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Mining in El Salvador had its epicenter in the jurisdiction of San Isidro Cabañas, and precisely this is where there was a popular celebration after the historic passing of a law banning mining in Salvadoran territory.
In a meeting organized by the Movement of Victims and People Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC) carried out on Sunday 2nd, approximately 300 people representatives of communities of San Isidro Cabañas gathered to celebrate their victory after the Legislative Assembly passed a law that bans metal mining in the country.
Representatives of communities of Cuscatlan, indigenous peoples of the Western area of the country and the Bajo Lempa region participated in this celebration. These are the territories where MOVIAC has its main bases that are fighting an ongoing battle against the climate change and environmental damage caused by corporations which are only after economic profits, without taking into account social or environmental aspects.
The celebration was organized by the Association of San Isidro Cabañas Friends (ASIC), which is MOVIAC´s local organization and they had the support of ACUDESBAL, Pasos del Jaguar and CESTA Friends of the Earth, in addition to the presence of Cabañas MP, Marina Alvarenga, and the Prosecutor for the Defense of Human Rights in El Salvador, Raquel Caballero.
This celebration had a historic meaning because the first of the victims to be killed for opposing metal mining was Marcelo Rivera, then Chair of ASIC, who was paid homage together with the other comrades murdered, Ramiro and Juan Francisco, and Dora Sorto who was 7-month pregnant, all inhabitants of Cabañas communities.
The Coordinator of MOVIAC José Santos said that the passing of the law is the result of a long struggle carried out by social and environmental organizations who have been exerting pressure on the Legislative Assembly for 12 years to pass this law and he also said that CESTA, with the support of Friends of the Earth International, has been warning for 20 years about the impacts of metal mining in El Salvador.
Ricardo Navarro said that a clear lesson learned from this struggle is that when the people and their organizations join to achieve a common goal, politicians have no other choice but to subject themselves to the will of the people.
Navarro, who was Chair of the environmental federation, recognized the role of the church in the support of the struggle against metal mining and said that it has been proven that the spirit of the beatified Monsignor Romero, a Catholic and popular martyr of El Salvador who was murdered for defending human rights, is still alive.
Meanwhile, José Acosta, of Voces de la Frontera group and member of MOVIAC, publically acknowledged the different social, religious and political sectors that joined "these long years of struggle, resisting intimidation and pressure" by investors.
“We celebrate the passing of a law against metal mining in El Salvador, but our struggle and work do not end here: we will continue with our awareness raising process to keep doors closed for any other transnational company that wants to loot our country", said Acosta.
And he highlighted the role of the popular and community media of El Salvador to destroy the corporate discourse and to provide information to the communities of the 555 municipalities around El Salvador.
Precisely, Acosta highlights the role of many municipalities in different departments who moved quickly and declared their territories free from mining, setting an example and facilitating the passing of a national law.
Just as the over two decades of fighting against metal mining in El Salvador were joined by the international solidarity, the passing of this ban was largely celebrated as well.
This is the case of M4: The Meso American Movement against the Mining Extractive Process, who expressed through a statement that the Salvadoran people "is a model to follow for all of us, and we also acknowledge the work of a Legislative Assembly that worked for their people and which has avoided falling into the traps of traders who loot minerals around the world".
In their statement, the M4 requests "the Salvadoran government do what is necessary for Oceana Gold/Pacific Rim to comply with the ruling against it issued by the ICSID on October, 2016, which corresponds to the payment of 8 million dollars, plus interests, in addition to urging the company to leave El Salvador, as well as its foundation "El Dorado" through which it has tried to coerce the Salvadoran people".
The Movement restated their "commitment to continue with this organized struggle against the Predatory Extractive Model, because from this historic day on, our conviction to move forward is rekindled".
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