For Immediate Release

Mesa press conference April 8 2013Members of National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador, a broad alliance of religious, research, environmental, and community development organizations who seek to prohibit mining in El Salvador are looking at the current political transition in El Salvador as crucial for advancing democratic reform and economic, environmental and social development.

Given recent appointment of new cabinet ministers and government officials, we express the following considerations to address the environmental challenges faced by our country.

Government officials appointed by the newly elected government, that will take office in June 2014, have a valuable opportunity to further advance an efficient, effective, humane, and supportive administration that favors public interest and fosters respect for the environment.

Particularly we believe the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment(MARN) should designate environmental issues as matters of national interest.   This is an opportunity to start administering a portfolio as important as the MARN with capacity, best intentions and with deep human sensitivity to, above all, apply the law in favor of our country’s sustainability and to promote the interests of the majority.

We believe the time has come for MARN to move towards an administration where the interests and demands of popular sectors are above the interests of large national and multinational corporations. It's time to banish forever the practices of past right wing governments who saw natural resources as an opportunity to increase the profits of their financiers to the detriment of the environment and to the majority of Salvadorans.

To the Government, its President elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren and future heads of the Ministries of Agriculture, Economy, Tourism, Environment and Foreign Affairs, we express our concerns about the first signs of what could become public policy clinging to the current neoliberal system that sees nature as a commodity. We refer in particular to the stated support and continuity of the second package of the Millennium Fund which intends to expropriate coastal communities for the development of large scale tourism, the threat of multi million-dollar lawsuits in international courts sanctioned through trade agreements, the lack of a clear policy to deal with the threats of internal and cross-border mining, the continued discussion of the privatization of water through Public Private Partnerships and the lack of a food sovereignty policy.

We are concerned that by arguing the need for foreign investment the government is eliminating processes that companies consider as obstacles. MARN's announcement that it will expedite enviromental permits, and the creation of legal loopholes such as "administrative silence" sigansl the government intentions to create mechanisms to facilitate investment and foster potential environmental damage without liability for those responsible.

In order to guarantee the human right to life, to health and a healthy environment recognized in the Constitution of the Republic and internationally in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights , the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, among others, we hope that the new authorities will encourage Members of the Legislature to pass a law prohibiting metal mining in El Salvador. Members of the Environment and Climate Change commission have already in their hands a bill presented by the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining proposing the prohibition of mining that could make El Salvador the first country in the world to ban such polluting and destructive industry.

As a social movement organized against metal mining, we confirm our firm belief that democratic governance and environmental sustainability are possible if we ban metal mining on time. The high price of gold feeds the voracious power appetite of large transnational mining corporations, but LETS NOT FORGET that money can not be eaten, and such power is a meaningless obsession and an obvious dehumanizing crusade if it threatens life in the planet.

Because in El Salvador we can live without gold, but not without water, we demand a law prohibiting metal mining. 

National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining