2012 CRLN Luncheon Message: Sign the Petition to End Metal Mining in El Salvador!

Passing around a vial of brownish, contaminated water from a river near a mine in El Salvador, Salvadoran Franciscan Br. Domingo Solis brought home his message that the international community should support the movement, coordinated by the National Working Group on Metal Mining (La Mesa), to permanently outlaw mining in the country. 

"98% of El Salvador's available water is already contaminated enough that it is classified as non-potable.  The people rely on the remaining 2% for clean water to drink," he said.

The past two Presidents of El Salvador have suspended mining temporarily because of local opposition to the water pollution resulting from it. Commerce Group, located in Milwaukee, WI, sued El Salvador under investor-state provisions in the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) when El Salvador revoked its mining permit following evidence that its mining project had contaminated local water supplies with toxic heavy metals.  The suit was heard in a World Trade Organization tribunal.

Commerce Group lost its lawsuit in 2011 but has filed for an annulment of the decision. Under CAFTA provisions, El Salvador had to cover the $800,000 in tribunal costs as well as its own legal fees.   

CRLN encouraged the 195 people in attendance to sign copies of a petition, located at each table, to Commerce Group to weigh the ethical and environmental consequences of mining in El Salvador, to take responsibility for the contamination it caused, and to drop its case in the WTO tribunal. After getting more signatures in the weeks after the luncheon, CRLN will mail the petition next week to the Pacific Rim subsidiary in Milwaukee as a show of international support for El Salvador. 

In the coming months, CRLN will continue to work with Oxfam and the Mesa for a permanent ban on metal mining in El Salvador.  In the meantime, you can download a copy of the petition to Commerce Group and circulate it among your friends, in your congregation, or in other groups of which you are a part.