February 26, 2013

Communities and organizations convened under the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador mobilized to the Embassy of Guatemala in El Salvador today to express our opposition to the Cerro Blanco mine. The Cerro Blanco operation, a project of Entremares SA, a subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc, will have a negative impact on the quality of life of the Salvadoran population.


Technical reports have established that the Cerro Blanco mine, as well as, seven other projects in the area, will affect the balance of biodiversity and will pollute key bodies of water such as the Güija lake and Lempa river, these are vital to the life of our country. Areas of strategic importance in the region, including the Trifinio Natural Reserve will also be affected.  Approximately 650,000 people living in the area distributed among 45 municipalities of three neighboring countries will be immediately affected by pollution.

The Güija Lake is one of the main tributaries of the Lempa River, which provides drinking water for about 37% of the population of the metropolitan area of San Salvador.  Negative impact on these water systems from a metal extraction process could result a real economic crisis and undermine the enjoyment of fundamental rights of large sectors of the population.

Our concerns regarding the Cerro Blanco project are supported by different technical analyses of the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) of the above said mining project. These studies highlight the inconsistencies and technical gaps that indicate the unfeasibility of the mine. Dr. Dina Larios, professor of Hydrogeology and Geochemistry at the University of Ohio in the United States, reported in 2010 that the Ostua river and the Guija Lake could suffer significant alterations in biodiversity.  Dr. Robert Robertson, senior researcher at the University of Colorado United States, has also found that the “Cerro Blanco mine is an exceptionally high risk project.”

Beyond technical studies, our rejection of the Cerro Blanco mine is supported by international legal instruments that assign the responsibility to governments of the region to preserve areas like El Trifinio Ecological Reserve as an indivisible unit that is of strategic importance for populations of the region. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity, The Inter American Convention on Human Rights and the RAMSAR Convention that in turn enables, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance are examples of such treaties.  It is important to note that in 2010, the Trifinio region was named a reserve for the program on Man and the Biosphere program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Given the reasons above, the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining, demands that the government of Guatemala stop the Cerro Blanco mining project.  We reject the position of the Guatemalan government suggesting that payment for environmental services should be considered an element for negotiating issues of cross border contamination.  Instead, modern principles of international relations such as joint responsibility for shared watershed systems should be adopted and implemented in the sustainable management and joint ecological areas.
Governments must promote development policies that provide dignity to the highly vulnerable and impoverished communities in the region.

Stop Metal Mining in Central America! Stop the Cerro Blanco mine!  Yes to life!