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“Oxfam hailed today’s passing of a law banning metallic mining by the Salvadoran government. The law comes after years of violence and social tensions around mining in the country and strong opposition to mining from local communities, civil society organizations, the Catholic Church and more than 77% of the country’s population, according to a recent poll.”
Did El Salvador just tell transnational mining corporations to take a hike?
“This is an historic day for El Salvador and our right to decide our future,” said Oxfam’s El Salvador Country Director Ivan Morales. “The voice of the people has been heard. Mining is not an appropriate way to reduce poverty and inequality in this country. It would only exacerbate the social conflict and level of water contamination we already have.”
Wow, they just did, and in spades, placing the welfare of the people and the environment ahead of profit and corporate interests.
“El Salvador is Central America’s smallest and most densely populated country. Ninety percent of its surface water is polluted, according to the country’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. For these reasons local activists called on the government to ban mining as it can further intensify water and land pollution.
In October 2016, the government won a favorable ruling after seven years of litigation over a claim against it by Australian mining company OceanaGold, which sought over $300 million for the government’s refusal to approve the company’s mining permit because it failed to meet all requirements. That ruling validated the government’s decision to withhold a mining permit and paved the way for today’s action by the Salvadoran congress, so that El Salvador never again has to face such lawsuits for exercising its right to protect its population from adverse impacts of mining.
Tensions around the development of mining in the country have resulted in threats, violence and even murder, with three anti-mining activists killed in recent years.”
We here in the West rarely see the sharp pointy side of global capitalism. Despite the threats, violence, and murder El Salvador has set a brave precedent for the world to follow.
Hurrah El Salvador! May other nations be so courageous and be brave enough to challenge corporate hegemony.