Friday, July 15, 2011

A formal ban on mining in El Salvador?

The ongoing mining struggle in El Salvador is covered in a lengthy article in The Nation titled Like Water for Gold in El Salvador. The article covers ground which will be familiar to readers of this blog, from the concerns of environmental activists in areas where gold mining is sought to the international arbitration between Pacific Rim and the government of El Salvador. The article also discusses the status of legislation to permanently ban metallic mining in this small country:

We came to meet FMLN members of the legislature’s environment and climate change committee, including Lourdes Palacios, a three-term member from San Salvador with purple glasses and an easy smile. Palacios explained that they were ready with a bill to ban metals mining, but at the request of the executive branch, they were waiting for the outcome of [a technical review ordered by the government] before introducing it.

A representative from the department of Chalatenango, just west of Cabañas and an FMLN stronghold, expressed impatience at how long the review was taking and his conviction that “economic and political powers” were “putting pressure on non-FMLN legislators.” For the FMLN legislators, he stressed, “the pressure is the will of the people, and we are convinced that the majority of the people don’t want mining.” The FMLN does not have an absolute majority in the legislature; still, those present expressed confidence that the ban could pass if the executive branch recommended it. One legislator suggested that El Salvador might have an easier time saying no than countries already dependent on revenues from gold exports.
For his part, president Mauricio Funes has stated publicly that during the remaining three years of his administration, no gold mining project would be authorized.

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