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In Cabañas department, El Salvador, resistance to open-pit mining by transnational corporation Pacific Rim has caused a terrible social damage since the 1930s, when the land owners killed the indigenous population.
Teacher and high school headmaster Victor Manuel Merino draws this parallel. He explained how mining exploitation affects children, young people and families.
Real World Radio interviewed the teacher on Saturday 17 November as part of the International Mission of Solidarity and Human Rights Verification organized by Friends of the Earth International, with the participation of the Transnational Institute. The mission aimed to verify the effects of mining and megaprojects by transnational corporations on the communities.
“We realized that in the areas where Pacific Rim operates, the company bought people up to gain their approval. We need to guide our children, our peasants so that they realize that we will gain nothing from these bribes, but our ecosystem and our life will be damaged”.
A decree by President Mauricio Funes in El Salvador forced by the mobilization of communities, declared a moratorium on new mining licenses in the country. However, the law provides that the decree will expire once the president leaves office. Today, the organizations are demanding a law that will prevent new projects.
According to the teacher the mining corporation’s “corporate social responsibility” policies make people associate mining with progress and employment, by giving small amounts of money to charities. That can be countered through education and training of new generations in a sustainable system, for example by recovering the Salvadorean farming activities that have been devastated by the neoliberal policies that promote large estates.
Photo: Reunión de la Misión en el Comité Ambiental de Cabañas, El Salvador. Víctor Barro (AT España)
“Este triunfo de Uruguay debe ser un llamado urgente a analizar, revisar, renegociar o anular cuando corresponda todos los tratados bilaterales de comercio y de protección de inversiones que ha suscrito el país, antes de exponernos a nuevas demandas en las que podemos correr con distinta suerte que en la recién finalizada”.
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