Media Releases

July 22, 2013 Global Day of Action Against Open Pit Mining: The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining reiterates demand for legislation prohibiting metal mining in El Salvador

fray domingoPRESS RELEASE

In commemoration of Global Day of Action Against Open Pit Mining the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining, once again demand the Legislature of El Salvador to expedite and promote the discussion and adoption of the Law to ban metallic that our collective introduced in 2006.
Multiple scientific and technical studies have shown that metal mining is not compatible with the socio-environmental reality of our country, and it does not bring the substantial economic benefits mining corporations claim. Any economic gain is irrelevant compared to the negative impacts on health and the environment that toxic waste generated by the intensive use of heavy metals such as cyanide, mercury, etc. An example of this toxic legacy in El Salvador is the San Sebastian mine in La Union, where an abandoned mine has left a constant stream of toxic waste leaching from the mine; a community without water, contaminated soil, an unsecure food supply and high incidence disease.

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Free Trade Agreement with the European Union must be declared unconstitutional

CAFTA LEtterThe National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining submitted a letter to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of El Salvador to ask that the Free Trade Agreement with US, Central America and the Dominican Republic CAFTA-DR be declared unconstitutional.

In the letter, the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining asked the members of the chamber to rule on three pending constitutional challenges that have been submitted since 2006. These constitutional challenges were accepted by the Supreme Court as they were considered to have valid constitutional arguments against the principles of "National Treatment" and "indirect expropriation" which require the state to give foreign firms the same benefits given to Salvadoran firms and defines any governmental action or inaction that harms potential investment earnings as an injury that allows foreign firms to sue El Salvador under international trade tribunals bypassing national justice mechanisms.

The constitutional challenge to CAFTA-DR cited by members of La Mesa was filed in January 2005 and was accepted by the Constitutional Court in March 2007, along with other challenges presented. At that time, the highest court of justice in the country considered valid fourteen of the thirty arguments outlined in the demands raised by the petitioners and it established a short timeline for the Executive and the Legislative Assembly to respond to these. Six years have passed and the Chamber has failed to rule on the matter.

According to the letter presented by La Mesa today, the recent ratification of the Association Agreement (ADA) with the European Union would be adding insult to injury as this treaty contains similar clauses that allow for the violations of constitutional rights as CAFTA-DR does. In that regards, memebrs of La Mesa also requested the chamber to expedite the process of analysis, discussion and deliberation of the various arguments accepted as valid to declare the unconstitutionality of CAFTA-DR and asked that a resolution be issued in a timely manner.

The importance of issuing a decision is highlighted by members of La Mesa because it would close the door to more lawsuits from foreign corporations such as US based Commerce Group which is suing El Salvador for US$100 million; and Canada based Pacific Rim which claimed a payment of $315 million alleging violations under CAFTA-DR and now is suing the country under local investment laws.

Mesa Press Release - May 23, 2009

 Public Private Partnerships open the possibility of mining in El Salvador

We are concerned that the PPP law opens the door for approval of mining projects in the northern region of the country.  Our concerns are particularly fueled by the fact that approval for legislation to prohibit Metal Mining and the General Water Law, aimed at reversing environmental vulnerability and water scarcity, is still pending in parliament.

We believe that PPPs deepen neoliberal policies of privatization of public services that affect the economic, social and cultural rights of the Salvadoran population. We ask the Legislature that instead of enforcing programs proposed by the International Monetary Fund, they should approve laws that foster environmental sustainability such as the water protection laws, the prohibition of metal mining, and the ratification of Article 69 of the Constitution which establishes the right to water and food for all Salvadorans.

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Mesa tells Legislative Assembly not to ratify Agreeement of Association with EU

The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining calls on the Legislature to not ratify the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union

ada 1Following up on a request made to the Legislative Assembly in July 2012, members of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining visited the Legislative Palace this morning to demand the non-ratification of the Association Agreement with the European Union (AdA). Environmentalists and social activists handed copies of the letter to the commissions of Economy and Foreign Affairs.

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Pacific Rim’s announcement of a US $315 million increase in its law suit against El Salvador denounced by members of the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador


Canadian mining company Pacific Rim has announced it will increase to US $315 million its demand against the Salvadoran Government for failing to grant a license to exploit gold in the El Dorado mine in its northern department of Cabañas. Pacific Rim is suing under Salvadoran Investment Laws after the ICSID tribunal dismissed their case to sue under the US, Central America Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA-DR.

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MCALM Press Release

International tribunal rejects Milwaukee mining company’s $100 million claim against El Salvador

International community continues to demand reparations for environmental damage

Washington, DC: On March 15, 2011, a tribunal at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) rejected Commerce Group Corporation’s claim against the government of El Salvador, essentially tossing out the case.

Steve Watrous, of the Midwest Coalition Against Lethal Mining, a group of student, environmental, and religious organizations that have been pressuring Commerce Group to drop the suit, commented, “We are celebrating this victory together with the communities in El Salvador that have been suffering the effects of gold mining. Now it’s time for Commerce Group to clean up the mess they’ve made in El Salvador.”

A 2006 study of the local waterways surrounding the San Sebastian mine in La Unión, El Salvador, owned by the Milwaukee-based Commerce Group Corporation, revealed elevated levels of cyanide and heavy metals, for example, an aluminum level 1800 times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit.

According to Salvadoran court documents, Commerce Group’s environmental permit was revoked in 2006 for failure to comply with clean-up and other requirements for that permit. At that time, El Salvador’s Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources stated, “The environmental ministry cannot grant permits for mining projects if the company’s environmental impact assessment does not show that they’re going to protect the earth, aquifers, surface, the air and the health of the people that live in the communities.”

The company filed a lawsuit against the government of El Salvador in 2009 through the foreign investor provisions of the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade, demanding at least $100 million in compensation for alleged lost profits, despite the fact that, according to SEC filings, Commerce Group has not had any earnings since 2002, four years before their permit was revoked

“It’s pretty outrageous that the government of El Salvador has been attacked for protecting the health and safety of its people,” said Al Gedicks, professor of sociology at University of Wisconsin LaCrosse, and author of Resource Rebels. “If anything, it is Commerce Group who should be paying for the toxic legacy they have left behind.”

Even though the case was dismissed, El Salvador paid nearly $800,000 in legal fees for the initial stages of the hearing, according to the government’s report to the tribunal; in addition, the tribunal ordered each party to split the costs of arbitration, or $45,000 each.  Jan Morrill, from U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, who has been working closely with the affected communities, commented, “El Salvador has had to pay close to $800,000 just to be dragged through this arduous process for over a year in order to defend itself from a baseless attack. This is money that could have been much better spent by the government investing in economic growth, health and education.”

Press Release by the Midwest Coalition Against Lethal Mining