Rufo Valencia - Radio Canada International

Manuel Perez Rocha interviewed by Radio Canada International. Click here to hear the interview. 

manuelOne year ago, an international coalition of civil society organizations, where Mining Watch Canada participated, released a press statement entitled: “There are no winners in the Pacific Rim Mining Company VS El Salvador”.

The statement focused on the arbitration of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a court of the World Bank, which ruled, on 14th of October 2016, in favor of El Salvador in a lawsuit filed by the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim.

 From the perspective of both grassroots organizations as well as nongovernmental organizations in El Salvador, the claim of the mining company Pacific Rim / OceanaGold, which demanded from the Salvadoran State the payment of 250 million on the basis of potential profits lost due to not having received the government permits to carry out the El Dorado gold mining project, constituted an act of blackmailing El Salvador and a subversion of democracy in the country called the “Pulgarcito” (little thumb) of America.

The International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) determined that the Canadian mining company's claim had no merit and ordered the payment of eight million dollars to the government of El Salvador to reimburse the costs of its legal defense.

One of the participants in the campaign was the Institute for Policy Studies which is based in Washington. Manuel Pérez Rocha works in this Institute, and he as previously a member of the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC).

Interviewed by Radio Canada International, Manuel Pérez Rocha explained that although this sentence represents a victory for El Salvador, and for those who defend water and the environment, it does not establish jurisprudence. He added that around 600 similar cases are being processed by the tribunal highly biased in favor of corporations, and that it should disappear.

Pérez Rocha explained that an advisable measure for countries is to withdraw themselves from the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), as Venezuela and Bolivia have already done.

His statement is based on the fact that the ICSID is an entity to which countries have been forced to adhere as a result of the application of neoliberal structural adjustment programs. He added that there is no democratic oversight from the international community over its application.

Translated by: Giada Ferrucci