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Felicidades al pueblo salvadoreño y al gobierno!

Statement by the IPCM Secretariat

March 31, 2017

The International People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM) gives its highest salute and warm solidarity to the people and government of El Salvador in the historic passage of its law banning metal mining in their country. This is a huge victory not only for El Salvador but also for nations, communities, and movements opposing the powerful yet failing global capitalist mining and extractive industries.

The new law solidifies the decade-old mining moratorium of the El Salvadoran government, which halted the issuance of new mining permits to companies wanting to operate in the country. The legislation followed the successful international legal action of El Salvador against the polluter, human rights violator OceanaGold mining corporation at the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

We are glad that majority of the elected representatives of the Legislative Assembly heeded the demands of the people. We expect that the Executive Branch of the El Salvador government will respect and uphold the new law.

Behind this success is the resolute and continuous struggle of the people to defend their communities, protect their environment and conserve their natural resources against the plunder of large-scale mining corporations. The legislation upholds the sovereign right of El Salvador to decide what development path they will take to economic progress.

The victory comes after a hard fought struggle. El Salvador is the most environmentally degraded and most water-scarce country in Central America. More than ninety percent (90%) of its surface water is contaminated. Several environment and anti-mining activists were killed in the course of their struggle to protect their environment. Communities were displaced because of different large-scale extractive operations in the country.

El Salvador’s victory serves as a great inspiration to all of us. Advocacy and lobbying for progressive legislation is one of many initiatives to broadly unite, organize and mobilize the people from all walks of life.

In the Latin American region, several countries, states and provinces have issued progressive legislation against destructive large-scale mining. Costa Rica has a law banning open-pit gold mining. In Guatemala there is national bill for a moratorium on mining. A few weeks ago, the people of Cajamarca, a municipality in Colombia, successfully voted against the what would have been the world’s biggest open-pit gold mine owned by global mining giant Anglo Gold Ashanti.

In the Philippines, the national agency on the environment ordered the closure of more than half of operating large-scale mines in the country. There is also a People’s Mining Bill being lobbied which once passed will ban destructive mining methods and declare ecologically critical areas closed to all forms of mining.

All of these efforts and campaigns worldwide have a common element. The key to successful people’s campaigns lies with a strong unity, continuous effort and the broadest mobilization of people defending their rights and protecting their environment. In campaigning against destructive large-scale mining, employing different tactics and methods is a must.

At the international level, solidarity support and coordination amplify local and national campaigns against mining plunder and destruction. It facilitates the exchange not only of support but of lessons and strategies for moving forward collectively against the current globalization offensive of the extractives industries and their proponents.

Salute to the people of El Salvador!
Long live international solidarity!
Struggle for a humane, just, and environmentally sound society!