An Alert: Gold-Mining Situation

Here is the gold-mining news in general …

I received this via email from a friend of mine. – madelacruz

Subject: Another anti mining activist has been killed in El Salvador

San Salvador, December 22, 2009

Alert from El Salvador

As the Colectivo de Derechos Humanos Herbert Anaya Sanabria we are outraged with the assassination of one more environmental activist.

Another anti mining activist has been killed in El Salvador

As you all know there have been several worrisome situations going on around the issue of the gold mining in El Salvador, specifically in the department of Cabañas, where the communities have been protesting against a proposed gold mining project by Pacific Rim, a Canadian mining company. They are very concerned that cyanide used to extract gold would poison El Salvador’s largest river, the primary source of drinking water for millions in the country. Their protests were strong enough to shut down the El Dorado gold mining site. In 2007, the Ministry of Environment denied Pacific Rim’s permit to start drilling for gold.

But Pacific Rim is not listening. Instead, the company is suing the Salvadoran government for $77 million for “lost profit” (read more about the Pacific Rim lawsuit). How can they do this?! The U.S. Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) protects the “rights” of corporations over national laws that safeguard workers and the environment. Chapter 10 of CAFTA gives private foreign investors the “right” to sue for “profit infringement” and extort millions of dollars from governments like El Salvador.”

How far can they take this? Well, we know now for sure that the lives of all these people are going to pay the price for gold. Have you ever heard of the expression “blood diamond”? Gold is no different, except that in El Salvador the resistance against mining is actually been able to get the word out about what is going on, and the response has been repression against the people.

On December 20th at 16:00 hours Ramiro Rivera Gomez was gunned down and murdered. He was the vice-president of Comité Ambiental de Cabañas (Environmental Committee of Cabañas). Hired killers assassinated this social activist Ramiro Rivera, in the village of Trinidad, jurisdiction of Ilobasco, Cabanas, in the presence of his 14 year old niece who was wounded but has survived (as a witness her life is in danger).

Ramiro Rivera Gomez was one of the leaders of the peoples’ resistance against Pacific Rim and has been working in outreach to educate people in the area about the effects of gold mining and was one of the first ones to get threatened and was actually shot 8 times in his back and legs on August 7 this year. He survived that time, and was able to identify one of the people that shot him, Oscar Menjivar Velasco, who’s been associated by the people in the area as an activist for Pacific Rim and as a friend of the ARENA mayors in the area. He was arrested and the investigations where pointing to a possibility to get to the intellectual authors of the first crime, make the link between the big fish and the killers.

This adds to the ongoing outrageous situation in Cabañas. Remember that this is in addition to the torture and killing of Marcelo Rivera in June 2009, the attempted homicide against a priest of the area, the death threats against a group of journalists of radio Victoria, the constant harassment against family members and people around the area that are part of the anti-mining resistance.

We make the call to international solidarity to look into this case. This country has shed too much blood for its freedom, but apparently it has not been enough. As human rights activist we feel threatened in this country and absolutely unprotected, we are okay as long as we don’t get too close to the bee hive. That is no different then what happened in the war, human rights activist are being threatened and killed in El Salvador once again. We have a government now that is in favor of the people, but what we have been saying for years is true, the death squads were never deactivated. That needs to happen now and we must pressure the government to seriously take care of this problem.

Big corporations’ interests are still at stake, and when it comes down to weigh in the scale “democracy and profit”, it always goes for profit. Remember Honduras is too close to El Salvador, in its history, in its radical rights wings, and the same training of their military. The people in Cabanas need support now.

We need to raise some money for the burial of Ramiro Rivera Gomez and
We need international presence in the area to protect people’s lives.
Pacific Rim needs to be pressured in to drop the lawsuit against the Salvadorian country and also to stop their intentions to mine here. The effects would be devastating for this country.

Colectivo de Derechos Humanos

Herbert Anaya Sanabria

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