El Salvador’s Historic Metal Mining Ban Is in Danger


Owen Schalk

Following its failed crypto scheme, authoritarian president Nayib Bukele’s cash-strapped government is making moves to reverse El Salvador’s metal mining ban. Its reintroduction would be a disaster for the nation’s already contaminated water supply. Unlike many Latin American countries that court extractive investments from transnational companies, El Salvador has no metal mining industry. This is unique in the region, the result of years of organizing by social groups, environmental organizations, and the Catholic Church.

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Santa Marta Community Leaders Are Persecuted in El Salvador

Screen Shot 2023 04 07 at 12.06.43 PM minTeleSur

Five social leaders were arrested due to a judicial order that links them to an alleged case that occurred during the civil war. 

On Thursday, Santa Marta's Association for Social Economic Development (ADES) called on citizens to protest in San Salvador City to reject the political persecution of social leaders carried out by the administration of President Nayib Bukele.

On Jan. 11, the Attorney General's Office and the Police executed an arrest warrant against Miguel Gamez, Alejandro Lainez, and Pedro Rivas in the municipality of Victoria.

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Salvadoran environmental defenders detained for decades-old crimes

Screen Shot 2023 04 07 at 12.25.40 PMThe Guardian
Nina Lakhani 

Activists worry the arrests are a move by the cash-strapped government to open the country to now banned metals mining
Five prominent environmental defenders who played a crucial role in securing a historic mining ban in El Salvador have been detained accused of civil war era and gang-related crimes, in what rights groups fear is a ruse to restart mining.

Miguel Ángel Gámez, Alejandro Laínez García, Pedro Antonio Rivas Laínez, Antonio Pacheco and Saúl Agustín Rivas Ortega were detained on Wednesday in Cabañas in northern El Salvador, accused of killing an alleged army informant more than 33 years ago during the brutal civil war that claimed 75,000 lives.

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250+ Groups Call On El Salvador to Drop Charges Against Water Defenders

Screen Shot 2023 04 07 at 12.06.43 PM minCommon Dreams

Jessica Corbett

Critics warn that the Salvadoran government is "desperate for revenues" and trying to "demobilize potential grassroots opposition" to reversing a historic nationwide ban on environmentally destructive metal mining. More than 250 organizations from 29 countries came together Friday to pressure the Salvadoran government to drop the charges against and release five water defenders who were instrumental in achieving a 2017 legislative ban on metal mining in El Salvador.

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Is El Salvador preparing to reverse its landmark mining ban?

Screen Shot 2023 04 07 at 11.46.55 AM minMongabay

Maxwell Radin

El Salvador banned all mining of metals in 2017, but environmentalists are concerned that the government is preparing to reverse the decision and bring in international investment. The government has created a new agency to oversee extractive industries and begun looking into international agreements that facilitate investment in precious metals. Five “water defenders,” who have spent decades speaking out contamination of water sources by mining projects, were arrested in January after mining officials visited their town of Santa Marta.

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Public statement from social movement organizations on the detention of members of the Santa Marta community and ADES in El Salvador


San Salvador. January 11, 2023.

Screen Shot 2023 01 13 at 16.53.16During the early hours of Wednesday, January 11, agents of the Attorney General Prosecutor's Office and the National Civil Police of El Salvador arrested Miguel Ángel Gámez, Alejandro Laínez García and Pedro Antonio Rivas, members of the Santa Marta community, a repopulated community made up of exiles and ex-combatants of the civil war, located in the municipality of Victoria, department of Cabañas.

In a simultaneous operation, carried out on the same day and time, in the municipality of Guacotecti, Cabañas, state agents also detained Teodoro Antonio Pacheco, executive director of the Association of Economic and Social Development - ADES Santa Marta-, and Saúl Agustín Rivas, legal adviser of the above-mentioned community organization.

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