Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Victimizer wants to punish the victim"

Below is an English translation of the public opinion piece from the National Working Group Against Metallic Mineral Mining published in the Diario CoLatino in response to Pacific Rim's initiation's of arbitration proceedings against the Salvadoran government.

Victimizer Wants to Punish the Victim

On April 30, Pacific Rim made good on its threat to sue the Salvadoran State for denying them the environmental permit to extract the El Dorado mine in San Isidro (Cabañas).

Having completed the ninety days waiting period, the Canadian company went to the International Center for Investment Disputes (ICSID) to demand repayment of $77 million in “mining exploration investments.”

The mining company announced its decision to sue the country at the beginning of December of 2008, under CAFTA regulations. During the following three months, the government of El Salvador has to look for an “amicable solution,” which means to say, the authorization of the solicited permit.

However, instead of a favorable response, Pacific Rim was met with President Antonio Saca’s and President-elect Mauricio Funes’ commitment to prevent mining project in national territory.

In the words of the German economist Franz Hinkelammert, Pacific Rim’s lawsuit is a case where the victimizer presents himself as a victim: the assailant asks for punishment for the one who is assaulted.

We shall see. The mining company came to this country and dried up the water sources in San Isidro, caused economic losses in Guacotecti, generated conflicts among the community in Sensuntepeque, corrupted mayors and legislators, violated environmental law, offended religious authorities, spread misleading information, etc.

Therefore, the communities of Cabañas, the Catholic Church, and the Salvadoran government are the ones who, as victims, prosecute the mining company, the victimizer. But no. It is Pacific Rim that is presented as the one whose “rights have been violated” and demands millions of dollars in compensation before the corporate tribunal, who resolution is easy to foresee, given that entities such as ICSID only respond to interests of corporate transnational companies.

The Archbishop of San Salvador, Monsignor José Luis Escobar Alas, rightly insists that the mining company only received exploration permits and that extraction licenses are not automatic.

However, outside of legal arguments, El Salvador should appeal to the principles of human dignity, national sovereignty, self-determination of the people, defense of the environment and the continuation of life.

Reject the mining company’s demand and, at the same time, sue the company for causing ecological, economic, social and institutional damages, it a matter of national interest. The country, citizens and the government should close ranks.

The case should also serve to reactivate the struggle against CAFTA. If it is not repealed or, at the least, some of its most damaging aspects are not modified, this trade agreement will make us subject to transnational companies that damage the ecosystem, productivity, and life.

- Communications Staff of the National Working Group against Metallic Mineral Mining

*Photo from America.

- Translated and posted by Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

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