Like Water for Gold in El Salvador
By Robin Broad and John Cavanagh· Originally published in The Nation
The story of a community's effort to ban gold mining in El Salvador involves environmental martyrs, powerful economic interests, and a DC-based tribunal that can trump democracy.
Thirty years ago, several thousand civilians in the northern Salvadoran community of Santa Marta quickly gathered a few belongings and fled the US-funded Salvadoran military as it burned their houses andfields in an early stage of the country’s twelve-year civil war. Dozenswere killed as they crossed the Lempa River into refugee camps in Honduras.
Today, residents of this area, some born in those Honduran refugee camps, are fighting US and Canadian mining companies eager to extract the rich veins of gold buried near the Lempa River, the water source formore than half of El Salvador’s 6.2 million people. Once again, civilians have been killed or are receiving death threats.