Gold mining is bad — it’s as simple as that. In industrial quantities it requires the use of toxic chemicals and irrational quantities of water, and inevitably results in illness and suffering for the population, and environmental effects that are lasting and non-erasable. And thanks to the insistence of the Salvadoran people, El Salvador is uniquely gold mining-free.
There used to be active gold mines around the 1880s to 1970s, but the fad waned and it didn’t seem to be that profitable of a prospect in El Salvador. The sites of those mines are still plagued by contaminated water and devastating levels of disease in the population. But then in the ’90s as gold prices began to rise and interest was renewed, transnational mining companies began wanting to poke around in El Salvador again. In 1995 a law passed in El Salvador allowing mining exploration, which gave companies permission to do studies in areas where it was thought that mining was viable and then request permission from the government to get digging. Luckily, the noise made by the people ensured that no permits were actually granted, but these greedy companies were not deterred.
There is definitely current exploration, but no current extraction in El Salvador. The Canadian company Pacific-Rim has even gone so far as trying to sue the country of El Salvador for denying their request for a mining permit (which was denied on environmental grounds), citing Free Trade agreements made in the mid 2000’s as grounds for the denouncement. The current government has stood firm against such pressure, but elections are coming up in February, and who’s to say how the next government will respond?
That’s why the National Round Table Against Metallic Mining presented their new proposed law on Tuesday of this week, which will be presented in the legislative assembly on October 1st by a mass of people who are planning on marching the decree right up to the front door of the legislature. I like this law, because it’s simple. In 8 articles the law says:
There will be no metallic mining (exploration or extraction) in El Salvador.
There will be no exceptions made that might allow metallic mining in El Salvador.
Any further laws — past or present — that might seem to make it seem like mining is ok are overruled by this law.
No means NO!
Plain and simple, just like that. Mining is bad, and it doesn’t have any benefits for El Salvador, so why would we want to allow it? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we approached other issues with this attitude? The pueblo has a capacity for seeing things with this kind of clarity that perhaps lawmakers and businessmen do not have. And that is why it is eternally and extremely important for people to be aware of what is going on around them, and to stand up when something is wrong. We can’t expect lawmakers and businessmen to make right decisions on their own, and that is what the United States needs to learn from El Salvador.
When we will say No means NO?