Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

¡Victoria! El Salvador prohíbe la Minería Metálica en su territorio.

April 5, 2017

El pasado 29 de marzo fue un día memorable ya que luego de muchos años de lucha la Asamblea Legislativa aprobó la ley que prohíbe la minería metálica. Ese acontecimiento sólo fue posible gracias a la incansable lucha de las comunidades y el movimiento ambientalista  quienes a pesar de la violencia e intimidación de las trasnacionales nunca perdieron la determinación por defender la vida del pequeño país centroamericano el cual es el primer país del mundo en declarar ilegal la minería metálica en su territorio.

Esta lucha histórica está vinculada directamente con la protección de los recursos hídricos, los cuales son los principales afectados por el proceso de extracción del oro,  debido a la utilización de diversos químicos en dicha producción y cuyos daños son visibles en varios países de Centroamérica. Debido a su pequeña extensión territorial, densidad poblacional y preocupantes niveles de degradación ambiental El Salvador no puede ni debe considerarse un país apto para la exploración y explotación  minera, por lo que las intenciones de las trasnacionales que buscaban extraer prinicipalmente oro atentaban directamente contra el derecho a la vida de la población salvadoreña.

El Salvador tuvo una larga batalla legal contra la empresa australiana-canadiense Oceana Gold (antes Pacific Rim) ante el Centro Internacional de Arbitrajes (CIADI) el cual finalmente falló a favor de El Salvador y le ordenó pagar a la empresa $8 millones de indemnización al Estado salvadoreño, sin embargo hasta el día de hoy la empresa no ha acatado dicho fallo.

Si bien es una victoria  no debe perderse de vista que aún debe seguirse luchando por la Ley del Agua, la Ley para la Soberanía y Seguridad Alimentaria, y una ley contra los agro tóxicos. La búsqueda por un mejor país y un mejor planeta continúa por lo que hay que tomar acción HOY.

Hope for the Environment: Elections 2015

February 19, 2015

Yesterday, February 19th, the Environmental Alliance, a coalition of anti-mining, food sovereignty, and water protection organizing bodies, invited legislative candidates across all parties to take part in a forum in front of civil citizens.  However, only Blandino Nerio (FMLN-National Liberation Front Farabundo Martí), Nery Diaz (FMLN), and Blaudilio Ventura (PSD-Social Democratic Party), all from the left side of the political spectrum, presented themselves.


Candidates (L-R) Ventura, Nerio, and Diaz

Before the candidates promulgated their platforms, members of the Alliance gave an overview of the current environmental situation in El Salvador. Due to the country’s location, El Salvador is victim to numerous natural disasters such as volcanos, hurricanes, and earthquakes. However, global climate change augments all of these natural forces, which has been cause for much concern in recent years. This past year’s drought when the prices of beans increased 100%, calls attention directly to the severe environmental threats that El Salvador faces.

The Anti-Mining Coalition highlighted the current and proposed mining sites around the country. The business jeopardizes the remaining 10% of El Salvador’s treatable water source. The Water Coalition expressed their concern that the Salvadoran people do not have the right to access, however small, that portion of potable water.

All members of the Environmental Alliance demanded that the law to protect and prevent natural threats along with the constitutional reform of Article 69 which would guarantee the sovereignty of food and water be approved by the legislature. Both initiatives have spent years in congress and are running out of time before they expire.

When it came time for the candidates to respond with their platforms, it became obvious that all present were playing for the same team: the environment. Nerio, of the FMLN, cited all of the past actions that the FMLN took to protect the environment and to curb climatic changes. He said, “As you can all see, this isn’t a new issue for us to support. However, if there is no mobilization in the streets, we aren’t going to achieve anything.”

Diaz, also from the FMLN, has worked tirelessly as a member of the Legislative Assembly’s Environmental and Climate Change Commission. She promised to continue to dedicate her time in the legislature to fight for the protection of all of El Salvador’s natural resources.

Ventura (PSD) echoed this same message of being with the people in their struggle. He enthusiastically declared, “We are not in favor of the privatization of water or food. Water should be a public good. We are in favor of the people and the environment.” Ventura promised that not even one vote would be cast for the furthered degradation of the environment.

Although, a lack of diverse ideologies were present, the overwhelming enthusiasm that all panel members exhibited gave all those in the audience hope for real action surrounding the environment and climate change to come soon.


New Legislation Bans Chemicals, Aims to Prevent Kidney Failure

February 21, 2014

What do you do if one out of every four men in your town suffered from mysterious kidney failure?

This is a question that rural communities from San Vicente, El Salvador, to Sandamalgama, Sri Lanka, to Uddanamm, India have been asking since an epidemic started in the early 1990s. 

Massive floods, like 12-E in October 2011, contribute to the contamination of ground water.

Massive floods, like 12-E in October 2011, contribute to the contamination of ground water.

What do the victims of Chronic Kidney Failure in these far reaching countries have in common? They have little formal education, work back-breaking agricultural jobs in sweltering temperatures, handle pesticides and fertilizers, and drink ground water from areas near where these pesticides and fertilizers were applied.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has increased threefold in El Salvador since 1990, rising 25% in just the past 5 years, and is now the leading cause of hospitalized deaths in El Salvador. CKD has disproportionately affected young men who live in rural communities and work long hours harvesting sugar cane. Between 2005 and 2012, 1,500 men under the age of 19 were hospitalized for CKD (out of a total 40,000 hospitalized patients of all ages during the same period). In a national sample 95% of CKD patients worked as agricultural laborers where they were required to spray pesticides and fertilizers.

On September 5, 2013, forty-five Salvadoran legislators voted for and successfully passed the Law to Control the use of Pesticides and Fertilizers that was championed by SHARE’s partnering organization, CONFRAS. This legislation originally banned the use of 53 of the most toxic chemicals commonly found in fertilizers and pesticides in El Salvador and many believe are the main contributing factor of CKD. After the legislation was approved by the Salvadoran legislators, President Funes revised the law to only include 42 of these chemicals.

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Stop Mining in El Salvador!

September 29, 2013

New Law Proposed by Mesa Nacional Frente al Mineria

"We demand approval of the Law that Prohibits Metallic Mining"

“We demand approval of the Law that Prohibits Metallic Mining”

On Tuesday, September 17th the Mesa Nacional Frente la Mineria Metalica (MESA), or National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining held a public forum to unveil their new proposal for a law which will prohibit all forms of metallic mining in El Salvador.

Mining has ravaged the Salvadoran countryside since the early 1800s, polluting rivers for generations and displacing thousands of Salvadorans. Communities in rural El Salvador have had enough; El Salvador is the most vulnerable country to climate change in the western hemisphere, largely due to deforestation, which future mining would only exacerbate.

Metallic mining has the worst environmental track record of any type of mining. This method relies on the use of lethal chemicals to extract desired metals like gold, silver, and copper. The method proposed for mining projects in El Salvador uses two tons of cyanide to extract one ounce of gold.

The Mesa represents communities that are affected by mining and will present this new proposal to the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly on October 1st.

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Action Alert: In Solidarity with Honduras

August 2, 2013

Since the 2009 coup, the situation in Honduras increasingly mirrors El Salvador in the 1970´s, with growing militarization, repression, and violent murders of activists and community leaders. In response to this growing crisis, the people of El Salvador and Honduras call for solidarity and accompaniment. SHARE partners CRIPDES and CONFRAS have been particularly active in promoting solidarity with Honduras. SHARE El Salvador is in a unique position to offer years of experience in solidarity. In the words of Marcos Galvez, president of SHARE partner CRIPDES: 

¨Las luchas (the struggles) that the Honduran people have faced before, during, and after the coup are similar to las luchas de El Salvador. As a people, we need to be in solidarity with other pueblos. El Salvador received solidarity during decades in which this marked the difference in preventing massacres, disappearances, political imprisonment, and other acts that could have happened. As Salvadorans who know the importance of solidarity, we call on the international community to accompany Honduras. ¨

Members of the CCR, a SHARE counterpart protest the ongoing repression in Honduras on the 4 year anniversary of the coup June 28, 2013

Members of the CCR, a SHARE counterpart protest the ongoing repression in Honduras on the 4 year anniversary of the coup June 28, 2013

While Hondurans face a variety of struggles that began long before the 2009 coup – many similar to those in present-day El Salvador: proposed mining and hydroelectric dams, access to land and credit, access to media, respect for women’s, LGBT, and indigenous rights, and youth repression to name a few – since the coup the government response to civilian organizing has been to send in the military.  Two recent incidents highlight the intensity of the current situation: the murder of indigenous community leader Tomas García during a protest of a hydroelectric dam on July 15th, and the kidnapping of two international accompaniers from the Honduras Accompaniment Project (PROAH) on July 25th.  

Take Action! Ask your representatives to end U.S. military aid to Honduras!

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Mining: Stop Contaminating My Home!

February 5, 2013

Representatives want to see long-term change in mining practices, not temporary solutions

Representatives want to see long-term change in mining practices, not temporary solutions

The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining (Mesa) and the International Allies Against Metallic Mining held a press conference at the CRIPDES offices yesterday morning. The Mesa spoke out in solidarity with Honduras and Guatemala, and the Allies spoke in solidarity with the Mesa. Alex Early, a representative of Sister Cities, presented the International Letter of Support for the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador. As members of the International Allies, SHARE staff attended the conference to show their solidarity with the Mesa. The press conference highlighted several important issues:

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ADVOCACY ALERT! Petitions Against Mining in El Salvador

January 9, 2013

We challenge you to stretch your activist muscles now that those hazy holidays have come to a close by signing two petitions, one for organizations to sign and the other for individuals, to fight against metal mining in El Salvador.

Protesters at the anti-mining  march in Sensuntepeque in October 2012

Protesters at the anti-mining march in Sensuntepeque in October 2012

As the debate around mining in the Salvadoran National Assembly heats up, the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in El Salvador (the Mesa) is calling for international support as they struggle to protect environmental and natural resources. As the Mesa declared, “If [the] government really cares about guaranteeing sustainability and improving the quality of life for the population, instead of looking for a superficial solution […], it should promote a ban on metallic mining through a new Mining Law that explicitly reflects the profound socio-environmental crisis we are suffering in El Salvador.”

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Maize and Beans at Risk: Threatens Economy

October 25, 2012

The success of maize and bean crops is crucial to life in El Salvador, where over one million farmers’ livelihoods depend on their cultivation.  With higher temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns, a new report entitled, “Tortillas on the Roaster“, predicts that climate change will seriously threaten food security and transform the landscape in the region within the next ten years.

The Bajo Lempa region has already seen the drought effects of climate change.

SHARE partners with several organizations that are striving for food security, economic sovereignty, and protection against climate change for Salvadoran communities. One such partner, the Confederation of Federations of Salvadoran Agrarian Reform (CONFRAS), represents 131 cooperatives inEl Salvador made up of over 5,911 rural farmers throughout El Salvador.

Through CONFRAS, SHARE supported the Campesino to Campesino (Farmer to Farmer) program for many years, facilitating a process in which rural farmers teach other rural farmers organic farming techniques. With SHARE’s support, grassroots work and popular education are currently empowering rural farmers to teach others sustainable methods, employing new technologies mixed with traditional farming techniques. As is evidenced by the Tortillas report, sustainable farming like this is the only way agriculture can recover and continue in Central America.

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A Call to Action

October 22, 2012

Everyone came out to support the cause because everyone deserves to grow up in a healthy environment.

SAN SALVADOR OCT 4th: The gritty battle to shut down mining in El Salvador continued during H2O week’s (Oct. 1st-5th) march for water security and a ban on mining. Protesters insisted, “We will keep protesting and fighting until it is no longer necessary.”

About 2,000 protesters gathered in front of the Legislative Assembly building on Inter-American Water Day to pressure the Legislative Assembly to pass a law banning metallic mining, Strategic Risk Management Law, and the General Water Act. Together, all three laws seek to provide greater water security for vulnerable populations, some of which have no access to clean water. 

97% of El Salvador’s water is already contaminated, and the other 3% is of poor quality. Thus far, the mining movement has been successful in preventing active mining, but the proposed mining exploration would use as much water in an hour as a family in El Salvador uses in two years. They would contaminate freshwater aquifers, soil, and surface water with cyanide, rendering the water toxic and threatening traditional economic activities such as agriculture and livestock. Protesters hope to pass a law that would permanently prevent mining in El Salvador.

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From Floods to Droughts: Climate Change Continues.

September 7, 2012

This summer has demonstrated to be one the driest in the history of El Salvador, what with an average of 45 days with no rain. The regions of La Union, Usulutan, Morazan, and San Miguel are especially devastated as they have lost more than one million crates of corn.  The crops produced in these four regions account for 17% of the basic grains produced in El Salvador.

Last fall floods destroyed crops through out El Salvador, this year a drought threatens to do the same.

The possibilities for rain are present, according to the ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN). The country will be under the influence of El Niño and the affected regions can expect irregular rain showers  in the coming months of September and October.

For now the Salvadoran government is distributing  “agricultural packages” composed of corn seeds and extensive fertilizer. President Funes has announced that the situation is not dire as the rest of the national production of basic grains  remain on track and food prices are not expected to increase as a result of this drought.

Even so we hope that the rains coming to El Salvador are sufficient to revitalize agriculture in these affected regions. This is yet another reminder that we cannot survive without water. Read more about this situation here

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