Photo: Manly filming in San Sebastian, El Salvador
Council of Canadians Board member Paul Manly arrived in San Salvador on Sunday September 14.
He writes, “I’m representing The Council of Canadians and taking part in an international delegation that is examining the situation in El Salvador. Over the next week I will be traveling throughout the country, visiting communities and hearing from individuals who have been affected by mining projects in El Salvador and the bully tactics of Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) used by mining companies. …Investor State mechanisms have no place in so called ‘Free Trade’ agreements. I will be returning to Canada with evidence of how this destructive process has worked in El Salvador.”
Manly will be highlighting the investor-state challenge by the Canadian-Australian mining company OceanaGold. While the company is headquartered in Melbourne, it is owned by a holding company registered in British Columbia, is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and has an office on King Street in Toronto. OceanaGold is now suing the government of El Salvador for over $300 million because the country has refused to let it operate a mine there that would poison the country’s drinking water.
Yesterday, Manly was in San Sebastian to hear about an old mine located there and its legacy of environmental degradation. Manly writes, “Our local guide told us about the historic problems with the mine, the illness in the community, the contamination of the water supply and the lack of any community benefits in the way of infrastructure. The mining company had left a huge pile of slag that was leeching into the streams and rivers used by the communities. Despite the contamination, people still use the streams and river for irrigation, swimming, washing cloths and watering livestock.”
Manly was also interviewed by a local television station about the Council of Canadians view of the OceanaGold investor-state challenge against El Salvador. Manly notes, “I told them that the Council is opposed to Investor State provisions in trade agreements, that the Pacific Rim case in the ICSID should be dismissed and that it is shameful that a Canadian mining company is suing the government of El Salvador for protecting the environment and the water supply for 60% of the countries inhabitants.”
Today, Manly will be at the World Bank offices in San Salvador.