A protest was held at the Canadian Embassy in El Salvador yesterday to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the assassination Ramiro Rivera and Dora Sorto, two environmental advocates from Cabanas El Salvador who were active in the campaign against the El Dorado mine of the Canadian company Pacific Rim.
The Embassy refused to meet with representatives from the Mesa Nacional frente la Mineria Metalica to hear concerns and receive a letter demanding an end to free trade negotiations between Canada and El Salvador that would further entrench the rights of mining companies.
“If neoliberal mechanisms actually worked the people of El Salvador and Central America would not experience the levels of poverty and humanitarian crises that lead to the exodus of thousands of people each day,” the letter said.
The trade agreement is being negotiated at a time when Canadian mining company Pacific Rim is using an American subsidiary to sue the El Salvador government for failing to issue a permit for its cyanide leach gold mine in Cabanas.
The following statement from Council of Canadians’ chairperson, Maude Barlow was read at the protest:
On behalf of the Council of Canadians, I am sending you a message of solidarity and gratitude from Canada for your courageous stance against the big corporate bully, Pacific Rim.
El Salvador has made the right choice in refusing to grant Pacific Rim a permit for its cyanide-leach gold mine.
In July 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution recognizing water and sanitation as a human right. Pacific Rim’s El Dorado mine threatens to poison the Lempa River watershed, the most important watershed in the country and source of drinking water for the majority of Salvadorans. This is a blatant violation not only of the human right to water of Salvadorans today, but of all future generations of Salvadorans.
As water justice activists, we salute the environmentalists, community activists and social justice advocates in El Salvador who have been fighting to protect the destruction of water resources by big mining corporations. You are an inspiration to all of us and we stand with you today in declaring that our environment and our rights are more important than their profits.
Trade tribunals that are not accountable to our communities and put the interests of corporations first have no business undoing the democratic decisions of our elected governments. We cannot continue to allow trade agreement and the rights they grant to multinational corporations to trump the environment and human rights. This must stop. Ya basta!
To read past blogs by Brent Patterson and Stuart Trew on the Pacific Rim Challenge, see: http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10517