Wednesday, December 30, 2009

All That Glitters Is Not Good

So, Pacific Rim (a large Canadian mining company), is aggressively proposing a gold mine in El Salvador, where opposition to this mine has been mounting over the last few years. In the last few weeks, a number of outspoken community leaders opposed to the mine have been murdered. Just last Saturday, Dora "Alicia" Recinos Sorto, eight months pregnant, was shot dead while walking with her two year old son. Uhhhh, I'm appalled. How about you? So, we have a big, powerful mining company that really, really wants to mine and mounting opposition standing in their way, so...why not hire some hit men to take some of this opposition out? Pretty sick. What's also pretty sick is that this crap happens all the time.

A friend of mine sent me the transcript of a
Democracy Now interview
with Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director of CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. It's short, but informative. Why should you care? (Besides the fact that, y'know, being an formed citizen of the world isn't a bad thing and all...) First off, this is silver mining and chances are, you are wearing or have worn gold and silver and knowing where and under what circumstances the items we adorn ourselves with is a good thing to know. Also, the United States has El Salvador (along with pretty much all of Latin America) in its pocket and El Salvador is pretty dependent on the US thanks to the fact that for the last twenty years the country has been run by the right-wing ARENA party, one of the United States' closest allies. So, El Salvador needs our support more than anything.

Unlike so many stories of injustice out there now, there is the potential of some real support behind this movement. Stoumbelis says,

This is a really incredibly important moment in El Salvador. After twenty years of a very hard-right government, they have—the Salvadoran people have elected their first progressive government. The FMLN is now in charge of the presidency and in the majority—well, not the majority, but having the most seats in the legislative assembly. And so, there is really a role like we’ve never had before to hear the voices of people be reflected at the top levels of the government. And Mauricio Funes spoke out last week, specifically around the assassination of Ramiro Rivera, and vowed to investigate fully and not to allow this case to continue in impunity, which was very exciting...

...The FMLN, as a political party, made a very strong denouncement yesterday against the violence and a commitment to investigating, and they have also made a public commitment against mining and have actually introduced a bill in the legislative assembly, which is going to take a huge push, to actually ban all forms of metallic mining, which would be the first in the world.

All of this is important to know because there is REAL injustice happening here and it's the result (as it almost always is...) of big, corporate bullying. People are taking a stand and lives are being lost, BUT there is a real courageous movement going and the push is being felt. The FMLN commitment and bill introduction are proof of voices being heard...but how many lives need to be lost in the process?

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