Thursday, June 08, 2006

Protests at US annual meeting of mining company

According to a story in the Denver Post, activists from the US-El Salvador Sister Cities Network plan to protest at the annual shareholder meeting of Au Martinique Silver in Denver on June 9. Au Martinique Silver is one of the gold mining companies undertaking exploration for gold deposits in the Salvadoran countryside. Activists assert that gold mining will cause environmental damage outweighing any economic benefit to the country.

John Nichols writes about the opposition on the website of The Nation:

An example of how the U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities Network's solidarity model works will be seen Friday at the annual shareholders meeting of Au Martinique Silver Inc., a Canadian-registered mining exploration firm that is promoting development of a gold mine in the Salvadoran department roughly equivalent to a state of Chalatenango. The mining scheme has stirred broad opposition in Chalatenango, where farmers fear that waste from the mining operation will pollute local rivers and water supplies with arsenic and cyanide.


Fifteen mayors in the department and the overwhelming majority of parish priests in the heavily Catholic region have expressed opposition to the project, arguing that it would devastate local agriculture and fisheries. So strong is the opposition that, last year, 300 residents of remote communities in the region formed a human chain to block Au Martinique teams from entering their towns.

Unfortunately, there is little media coverage of development disputes in rural El Salvador. So Au Martinique continues to tell its shareholders and potential investors in the mining project that the company is working "hand-in-hand with the local communities to assure a partnership in economic development and good environmental stewardship." At the same time, the company is signaling that even if the locals don't want to walk "hand-in-hand" with the multinational corporation, the project will advance because, in the words of an Au Martinique prospectus, "the Republic of El Salvador has one of the lowest risk profiles for investment in all of Latin America" a reference to the fact that El Salvador's conservative government is more willing than most to do the bidding of foreign corporations.

In Chalatenango, sentiment toward Au Martinique's exploration project has been anything but welcoming.

"The people in the communities aren't in favor of the mining project," explains Esperanza Ortega, a nominee for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize who lives in the community of Arcatao in Chalatenango. Ortega argues that it is exceptionally "important to talk to the investors, talk to the people funding this project and tell them if they come into this zone they are going to have a lot of problems. ..." But, of course, it is not easy for residents of a mountainous region that is far even from the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador to get that message across to the investors and funders. (more).

4 comments:

Nelson said...

Transnational companies have to include in their proyects, social plans that will help local villages to improve their well being. An idea about this, you can find at http://hunnapuh.blogcindario.com/2006/06/00690-la-coca-cola-las-mineria-las-maquilas.html

A'vroue said...

how sad...
as far as historical data goes, there has always been a very low profile on precious metals ever been found in el salvador.
it's barbaric that the water, soil, air and entire eco-agro systems will suffer to extract less than mediocre amounts of any one metal or mineral.
this reminds me of africa being perhaps the richest region as far as gold and obviously diamonds go, but yet they're still the poorest in the entire world.

Samuel said...

Hello people,

I just created my own blog about curret salvadoran affairs, and I would like you to check it out - the address is:

http://bastadecasaca.blogspot.com/

Let me know what you guys think...

El-Visitador said...

A'vroue said...

how sad... [...]
it's barbaric that the water, soil, air and entire eco-agro systems will suffer

* - *

Indeed, how barbaric. Must be the reason why Canada is the #5 world gold producer, Australia #3, and the U.S. #2. Babarian countries, those, indeed!

By this standard, El Salvador is a veritable bastion of civilization, as we currently hardly do any mining!