Monday, January 04, 2010

Murder Claims the Lives of Two More Anti-Mining Activists in El Salvador


For many years the Democracy Center has joined with those fighting to protect natural resources and the environmental against takeover efforts by international corporations. This included our work in the campaign against Bechtel's post-Water Revolt case against the people of Cochabamba. More recently we have joined with other organizations across the Americas to build a new project to challenge the global trade courts where cases like Bechtel's are heard – the Network for Justice in Global Investment.

One of the most important cases we have been covering with this project is that of an obscure Canadian mining firm, Pacific Rim, which is suing the government of El Salvador for $77 million because the government refuses to license the company to mine for gold. As in the Bechtel case, Pacific Rim and its $278,000 per year CEO Thomas Shrake are trying to turn a small investment into a mammoth profit in the World Bank's trade court. Pacific Rim reports only $9 million in current assets, but is seeking more than $70 million from the Salvadoran people – the profits they supposedly would have made if allowed to operate the mine.

In essence Pacific Rim is mining for gold behind closed doors at the World Bank.

But while the case goes on between lawyers in Washington and Vancouver, on the ground in El Salvador, events have turned deadly. In the two weeks before New Years, two key activists from the movement fighting the Pacific Rim mine were brutally murdered.

With both sadness and anger, we bring you the brief report below on those murders, and we will continue to keep our readers updated as the battle for environmental justice in El Salvador continues. We'll be back with more Bolivia coverage shortly.

Jim Shultz

Murder Claims the Lives of Two More Anti-Mining Activists in El Salvador

The Christmas season in Trinidad, a small community in northern El Salvador, was marked by the murder of two activists in the community's effort to block an environmentally devastating gold mine in the area. On the day after Christmas 32-year old Dora “Alicia” Sorto Recinos (pictured above) was murdered was shot and killed on her way home from a local river where she was doing her laundry. She was eight months pregnant. Her baby died as well and her two-year-old son, who was accompanying her, was shot in the leg.

The murder of Sorto Recinos, an outspoken activist against the El Dorado Mine, came just six days after the murder of another key anti-mining activist in the department of Cabañas, Ramiro Rivera Gómez, vice-president of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas (CAC). He was shot to death on December 20th in front of his eight-year-old-daughter, according to some reports, with an M-16 rifle.

The December murders also follow the June torture and killing of another activist against the Pacific Rim mine, Marcelo Rivera.

Citizens for Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), the US-El Salvador Sister Cities organization, the SHARE Foundation, and other organizations with a long history of human rights work in El Salvador are asking those concerned to join them in taking two actions:

1. Send an e-mail to the head of the Attorney General's organized crime office, Rodolfo Delgado (, to demand a full investigation and government protection of those under threat.

2. Telephone the Pacific Rim Mining Company and demand that it drop its case against the people of El Salvador: US: (888) 775-7097, Canada (604) 689-1976.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To clear any misunderstandings, those 2 murders must be unequivocally condemned and its murderers drawn and quartered. Really. Anybody who shoots an 8 week pregnant woman deserves no less.

Jim, dude, let's assume that you don't believe Pacific Rim has anything to do with these murders (Pacific Rim has unequivocally denied a role through a statement in its website).

It's false that "Pacific Rim is mining for gold behind closed doors at the World Bank." It's being handled by any agency called International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), and it -- ready to yawn? -- provides facilities for the conciliation and arbitration of disputes between member countries and investors who qualify as nationals of other member countries. When Pacific Rim signed a contract with the El Salvador government, it had provisions on ICSID arbitration, which is part of international treaties El Salvador and Canada have signed to.

To wit: when 2 parties agree to a contract, they have to adhere to those rules. If 1 party thinks he's been cheated, he can yell "foul!" and ask help from an arbitrator to reach a settlement both parties will agree upon. That's what this arbitration is about: ICSID will determine if either El Salvador or Pacific Rim adhered to the rules of the contract both parties signed, so don't make it sound (again) as a big bad private company forcing its hand against poor little El Salvador, because it ain't.

By the way, if you're so upset that Pacific Rim is asking much more in compensation for what it's worth, you should rightly be apoplectic with Morales' insane to create an "International Global Climate Tribunal" that would extort trillions of dollars from the industrialized nations to poor countries for supposedly causing global warming.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ICSID is a project of the World Bank... get your facts straight.

Also, ICSID is essentially rigged in favor of the multinationals. Do an iota of research, and you will learn that it is no yawning matter.

Comma, .

12:49 AM  
Blogger rose said...

This is quite shocking to know about this case.It is very sad to know about that lady's murder.I did not know this much about a case and a case of Pacific Rim of mine for gold..Thanks for this information.


2:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to the commenter at the top for reminding us that it was Belize and Malawi that caused global warming, and that the world's wealthy nations really had nothing to do with it. I am sure the rest of your analysis is just as worthwhile.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Global warming...riiiiiight.

"Record freezing weather grips Europe, North America and Asia"

"Seoul buried in heaviest snowfall in 70 years"

"Winter of 2009-2010 Could Be Worst in 25 Years"

"Peru's mountain people face fight for survival in a bitter winter"

etc. etc. etc


11:27 AM  
Anonymous AJ La Paz said...

More evidence, as if it were really needed, displaying the corrosive nature of the capitalist system when a poor country's natural resources are up for grabs.

More evidence, as if it were really needed, that nationalisation of natural resources is the way forward for Bolivia.

Sorto Recinos, Rivera Gomez and the others that have gave up their lives fighting this cause are true heroes. I wish I possessed an ounce of their bravery.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are some more freezing news in these apocalyptic "global warming" times:

"Cold snap spurs power rationing in China"

"Midwest Sees Near-Record Lows, Snow By The Foot"

"All-time record snowfall in Burlington"

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And more shivering news in these "global warming" times:

"As U.K. shivers, hundreds of cars stuck in snow"
"Flights, trains and classes cancelled amid winter blast, worst in 30 years"
"Freezing warning issued for the US Gulf Coast"
"Transport paralysed in Asia's worst winter in 60 years"

I'd show more news, but I'm freezing!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe that the comments space on this post about murder in El Salvador is being occupied by some fool in the northern hemisphere who hasn't figured out that it is winter. Alas, idiots abound.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got warm enough for another bit of freezing news in these "global warming" times.
"Dozens of people die in Indian cold wave"

The cold is not only present in the northern hemisphere winter, alas. Even in the southern hemisphere people are suffering from cold.
"Peru's mountain people face fight for survival in a bitter winter."

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Pacific Rim's demand has some legs. Check the link of Pacific Rim's Notice of Arbitration. Especially relevant are articles 5, 6, and 9. The Notice also details El Salvador's mining laws, Pacific Rim's environmentally conscious mining, and the supposed breach of contract by the government of El Salvador that led to this conflict.

I don't see any dark forces or any hidden agenda here. It's simply using an unbiased arbitrator to resolve a contract dispute.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see the Pacific Rim PR team has decided to join in the commentary here (see above). Too bad they didn't comment on the reasons why Salvadorans should pay the company a settlement, $77 million, that is about 70 times its investment in the mine. Guess they left that out.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You see, the way the real world works is with laws. Obeying the rules. Enforcing voluntary and agreed upon contracts. Paying the consequences for not living up to agreements. You might not like it, but it's reality. That's what this arbitration is all about.

Whining, cursing, speculating, and accusing without proof, well...all that appropriately belongs in blog fantasyland.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The real world is about culture, family, enjoying life, natural beauty and the wonders of human creation."

Which one of those paid (gag!) money so you can enjoy your computer and the internet and all of those comfy capitalist luxuries you can't live without? Oh, the irony!

"international law is only real when an impoverished nation breaks contract with a Northern corporation" Um, let's see...El Salvador's active personnel in the army: 17,000. Pacific Rim army: zero, zip, nada. El Salvador's army annual budget: $157 million. Pacific Rim army budget: zero, zip, nada. Ability to kick out anything or anybody from its own territory: El Salvador. Pacific Rim's ability to do the same: zero, zip, nada. You know, I'd say the "impoverished nation" has the clear bullying advantage here.

"but not when a Northern government (i.e. US) or corporation breaks its contract with the rest of the world." Huh? "Rest of the world?"

I expect more original US bashing next time.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, when the US Congress ratified the UN and OAS charters which it did voluntarily, the United States government agreed, in a binding international contract with all the other member states (that's el resto del mundo, it's not a soccer team) to never (again) invade another country, and to never (again) recognize an unconstitutional, undemocratic government in the Western hemisphere. Oops!!

What's ironic is that someone can claim to have the verdict on how shit works, and then calls an inanimate object like a computer capitalist! How about roller skates? The commies built the first satellite, so that makes digital TV socialist? Chances are your cellphone runs free software developed by boneheads who don't understand that there no such thing as a free ride, but your phone works, hey! You should use it to immediately call Richard Stallman and thank him for having a big, fantasy boner twenty years ago.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous chasqui said...

The UN gave the ok to the war and in Honduras Obama declared his support for Zelaya. Regardless of that, international tribunals are not evil and far more balanced that what Jim would like you to think. Few actually end up in a panel and the most that result in a verdict are for a fraction of the amount sought by the claimant.

The criminal case is separate. If Pacific Rim is involved in the violence, the authorities over there should be aggressively going after them. However, it is more likely that they also have been complicit. Manfred was helped by his old buddies in the military and police. I think living in the cultural squalor that is Miami is not punishment enough. He and his nephew Grindio should pay back every penny stolen from Bolivia with interest and a few years of hard labor in the Altiplano.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Bolivia Libre said...

Ahhh, the typical Jimbo incongruence’s, Pacific Rim is first depicted as one more big, bad, money thirsty North American transnational at the level of Betchel, but then, it just happens that this diabolic capitalistic entity only has $9 million in assets. Come on, Evo’s Juan “Camion” Quintana manages more money than that to keep the regime’s political persecution machinery in place and Pacific Rim is a small, “administrative” company as it is the mining company that is running and stealing our silver, trough Chile, from San Cristobal.

Lessons learn for the Cochabambinos, don’t make business with well placed, strongly organized, money supported, law abiding and hard working oriented international companies if you want clean water and a decent sewage system for the right price. It is better to make business with obscure, small, administrative companies that might, or might not, whack loud mouthed adversaries to feed money making capitalistic NOG in impoverished third world countries.

By the way, why don’t you open up, as Pacific Rim has, your accounting books; it would be interesting to compare your “transnational” salary with those of the private and governmental industry in Bolivia.

Grindiot, you like it or not, Manfred, and his wife, are politically persecuted by the maSSist regime of Evo Morales and will be given political refugee status whenever he asks it at the democratic country he chooses to live while democracy is restores in Bolivia. Same than the more or less 40 political refuges Bolivia already has between Brazil, Chile, Peru and Europe.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chasqui, UN did not ok the war, Obama was forced by Pentagon to backtrack on his original dignified response to Honduras... would the US recognize elecions without observers and constitutional guarantees anywhere else in the world (except China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, of course, they are valuable trading partners). If ICSID were fair, would it even occur to Pacific Rim to ask for 8 times what they invested? Sucks for some middle class investors that were duped, but they should do some research and figure out that they don't have a right to make profit off destruction of central america's rainforest.

Lessons not learned by Boliva Libre in five years: conjugating verbs in English. making sense. having a minimum grasp of what people outside his echo-chamber actually think and feel. understanding that his echo chamber is not representative of Bolivia's population. understanding that, when a political opposition DEMANDS a new electoral system, and the government concedes this, then they better work on strategy because no one will take you seriously if you claim fraud in the system that you chose.

I think it takes some balls to announce you are related to Manfred, and disagree with his politics and corruption. Its rather cowardly to attack Grindio for this, when everyone else remains anonymous.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, this one is too fun to pass by, and I don't only mean the sentence structure:

"when the US Congress ratified the UN and OAS charters which it did voluntarily, the United States government agreed, in a binding international contract with all the other member states (that's el resto del mundo, it's not a soccer team) to never (again) invade another country, and to never (again) recognize an unconstitutional, undemocratic government in the Western hemisphere"

-First of all, the "US Congress" doesn't ratify treaties. The Senate does.
-A contract with all other member states is "international?" A golden star sticker for you, genius!
-Where, oh, where does it say that the US Congress accepted to never "invade" another country? If its security is under risk or if it comes under attack, it reserves the right and moral obligation to lay a bunch of cans of whup-ass to anybody foolish enough to do so.
-The US doesn't recognize "unconstitutional, undemocratic government in the Western hemisphere," hence its policy with Cuba.

-Oh, yeah. The commies invented Sputnik, mostly thanks to German scientists kidnapped at the end of WWII and espionage. Same thing with the atomic bomb. How could one forget the world famous Yugo, another commie delight? You should find better excuses to enjoy capitalist luxuries while damning the very process that allowed its creation: capitalism and freedom.

OK, now back to demanding proof that Pacific Rim had anything, anything to do with the aformentioned murders. Correlation doesn't cause causation.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Bolivia Libre said...

Ano 12:25 PM; I see that my short participation was to much for you and your only defense is that my point off view is somehow inaccurate because I don’t conjugate verbs at the level of English you like; hypocrite, are you perhaps challenging me to conjugate verbs in Spanish, the Republic’s of Bolivia legal language? I think not.

Now, onto our writings, where in this post I claimed about, the well now, electoral fraud in Bolivia; by the way, I represent 33% of Bolivians that don’t believe on maSSist totalitarism and racism, to think such a large number of people don’t have an idea of what we want for Bolivia is a big mistake, keep it on, in works in favor of the republic.

By the way, Grindiot is as an anonymous as the ones signing as anos.

Ano 2:42 PM, so you think you understand English; please copy and paste the paragraph where I wrote that Pacifi Rim is doing business in Bolivia. Now, who is the narrow minded imbecile that didn’t even read before critiquing about the capabilities of reading?

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And in these times of "global warming," Saudi Arabia -- you know, desert, lots of heat, little vegetation -- experiences its lowest temperatures in 30 years and as "yapita," a bunch of snow!

Mini ice age or 30 years of global cooling, anyone?

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay Bolivia Libre, aka imbecile, as you said: "please copy and paste the paragraph where I wrote that Pacifi Rim is doing business in Bolivia."

Let us modify our previous observation that you can't read to that you can't even read your own writing:

"Pacific Rim is a small, “administrative” company as it is the mining company that is running and stealing our silver, trough Chile, from San Cristobal."

The San Cristobal mine is in Bolivia, not El Salvador. I do appreciate that you are making a real effort here to show how stupid you are, but really, it doesn't take all that much effort. Idiot.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Bolivia Libre said...

Ano 10:44 PM, as it is = like it is; for you moronic understanding San Cristobal was originally run by Apex Silver Mines Ltd. as a small, administrative, company as it is Pacific Rim; it is so little that it bankrupted in last year’s crisis and has now reborn as Golden Minerals Company. If you, and the other ano writing after you, ever take your heads out of your ass you will be able to understand that all I did was pointing out that comparing Pacific Rim with a real company like Betchel is it, stupidity. In the case of Jim, it is a little more, is politics. Off course, he doesn’t mention anything about the doings of San Cristobal, since the government might tread some “transnational” NGO’s like they do some “transnational” oil companies.

Ano 10:58, no me da la “G” de conjugar 2, 3 o mas parágrafos, ya que este Blog de fascistas resentidos no vale mi tiempo; por lo tanto te vas a tener nomás que aguantar que escriba directamente sobre la pantalla, salga lo que salga.

I don’t give a rat’s as what you think, I still represent the 33% percent of legally aged Bolivians that participated in the elections and said that we do not like the fascist regime of Evo Morales.

But at least you have an opinion, not like the previous ano; and like you, I think the “center left”, trough the disaggregation of MAS is going to slowly take the country over. This, off course, is not new; you and the maSSist like Jim always fail to mention that the MNR won several “clean” democratic elections, with more than 80% of the votes, just after the Agrarian Revolution. MAS is the same “chola con otra pollera”, acts the same way then the MNR in the 40”s, with militias and political persecution. There are a lot more comparison points, but I don’t have time to enlighten you and the other maSSist morons, so you will have to suck it up.

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bolivia Libre: Oh my little man, such trouble you have with the facts, no?

You did write precisely the following (see above):

"Pacific Rim is a small, “administrative” company as it is the mining company that is running and stealing our silver, trough Chile, from San Cristobal."

Which of course, it is not. PR has no business in Bolivia.

I think there is a psychological definition for people who, when it is pointed out they have made an error, attack the person pointing out the error instead of making an apology. I believe it is called "Bolivia Libre syndrome."

The drug mix you are apparently taking is not the correct one for this aflixion.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bolivia Libre, no le da la gana de que le tomen en serio? De que si tiene algo legitimo que decir, salga bien y no como un oligarca resentido (que es lo que viene pareciendo, usted, no toda la oposicion). If it bother you so much that gringo hippies come to Bolivia and support your necessary "Autocrat", which feeds all your irrational ranting, then maybe you should consider that your posts only confirm their half-true views and assumptions. Trying to help you, guy.

Still with the grandiloquence and megalomania. No, my compatriot, you do not represent 1 and a half million Bolivians, as I represent noone but my own opinions in this tiny corner of the tiny world of the Bolivian blogosphere.

As it is, I know several people who voted against Evo and would be amused or appalled with what you have to say, depending how charitable they are feeling at the moment.

Nice, your little history "lesson" was not needed, I know the history of our country as well as I've been able to read and learn, from hundreds of people who lived it and also from books.

So when you say:

"same way then the MNR in the 40”s, " first of all, it should be "than" and not "then". And, it was in the 1950's... again your credibility is not what it should be, considering that maybe you do have legitimate points to make.

11:32 PM  

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