Canadian mining corporations, such as Pacific Rim, Tribune Resources and Intrepid Mines, hold exploration licenses to more than ten percent of the northern region of El Salvador. In the face of local opposition, these companies have undertaken large-scale “green mining” propaganda campaigns which claim there are no negative environmental impacts to mining! There are also numerous recorded cases of agents suspected of acting on behalf of these companies and their subsidiaries attempting to buy out, and in some cases, intimidate impoverished farmers in the areas where they wish to open mines.
Since March 15th, 2009, Salvadoreans have elected a progressive president committed to revise the previous government’s northern development strategy and to work with civil society organizations in order to stop mineral exploration licences. Anticipating this change of government, however, Pacific Rim, a Canadian corporation with mining operations in the country, launched arbitration procedures against the government of El Salvador under the Central American Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA-DR. The company is demanding multi-million dollar compensation from El Salvador for allegedly failing to fulfill its obligations under the trade agreement. If successful, this law suit will open the door for other companies that hold exploration licences, covering over 20% of the total surface of the small country, to follow suit.
In 2009 numerous cases of violent attacks against anti mining activists have recorded. On June 18th 2009, Marcelo Rivera a prominent anti-mining activist from the town of San Isidro, where Pacific Rim owns its contentious “El Dorado” site, was kidnapped, tortured and murdered.