The beginning of 2010 has been a time of fact-finding missions to the Cabañas region of El Salvador, as international groups, deeply concerned by the violence in Cabañas that appears related to gold-mining, have come to the region to gather facts and make their own evaluations.
A delegation from Voices on the Border recently completed their mission. They describe their findings on the VOTB blog:
With regards to the debate over mining, delegates found existing environmental damage from Pacific Rim exploration projects, a fatally flawed environmental assessment, insufficient public consultation on proposed mining projects, and attempts by Pacific Rim to curry favor among segments of the government and local population. Pacific Rim’s activities have created deep divisions in Cabañas. For example, in an interview with the delegation, the Mayor of San Isidro, Cabañas admitted that his government accepted significant financial support from Pacific Rim. Accepting financial contributions makes it difficult for the Mayor to remain objective when considering the needs and demands of his constituents, and deepens the fissures between those who are pro- and anti-mining. The debate over mining is healthy, but it cannot be held in a climate of impunity, where intimidation and violence prevail.
The group plans to issue a comprehensive report later.
[Disclosure -- I provided some funds to help enable some persons to participate in the delegation. I did not participate in the delegation's work or its conclusions]