CISPES 2010 West coast tour: Orlando Velasco
Orlando Velasco will be touring the West Coast cities of Seattle, Olympia, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Diego and Los Angeles fromOct. 16-31, 2010 - Some of the events are listed here
Mr. Francisco Orlando Velasco was born in the rural northern town of San Isidro, Cabañas, in 1947, where he still resides. While pursing a degree in political science at the Universidad Popular de Centroamérica (Popular University of Central America), Mr. Velasco serves as an active organizer and board member of the Asociación Amigos de San Isidro, Cabañas (Association of Friends of San Isidro, Cabañas, ASIC). ASIC, founded in 1992, promotes community development and education projects such Mr. Velasco’s current “food security” project that brings small-scale, sustainable agriculture to the community. In addition to this work, Mr. Velasco has stood with ASIC at the forefront of the struggle against Canadian mining company Pacific Rim’s gold mining projects in Cabañas.
When Pacific Rim descended upon San Isidro in 2005 to explore for gold, the disastrous environmental effects were immediately felt. Mr. Velasco joined ASIC and other community organizations to denounce the company and demand a halt to the exploration. In order to escalate national pressure, ASIC joined the broad-based Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica en El Salvador (National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador) in 2006
. In June of 2009, ASIC received international attention when the organization’s founder Marcelo Rivera, an environmental, social and political activist fought fiercely against Pacific Rim, was assassinated. Mr. Velasco currently serves as a representative of ASIC to the Mesa, which is engaged in an energetic campaign to pass a national ban on all metallic mining in El Salvador - the first national ban of its kind in the world. Mr. Velasco and the Mesa continue to demand thorough and impartial investigations into the material and intellectual authorship of the political violence that has been afflicting his community since the arrival of Pacific Rim.
Mr. Velasco is excited to have the opportunity to address communities in the United States about the anti-mining struggle in El Salvador and the devastating effects of free trade agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA, which allow corporations like Pacific Rim to sue sovereign nations like El Salvador. He emphasizes the importance of continued international solidarity and support for community organizations like ASIC, saying that, “when people see this support, they think ‘we’re not alone.’”