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13 Aug 2009

The Real News Network

[video & transcript] Gold, impunity, violence in El Salvador

A 37-year-old teacher [Marcelo Rivera], community center founder, and anti-mining activist is found tortured and assassinated in Northern El Salvador [on June 18]. Authorities, despite all evidence...attribute the death to common gang violence. In the following weeks, other critics of mining are victims of death threats, attempted kidnappings and shootings. Communities... place the blame on the presence of Pacific Rim...Activists in El Salvador have come to oppose mining for a variety of reasons, including the lack of democracy in the process, the belief that the 2 percent royalties...is not sufficient, fear of contamination from the liberation of heavy metals...and the use of cyanide...as well as the potential for loss of water access...in 2008, exploratory drilling in Cabañas left numerous community wells without water...The company, to its credit, responded immediately... accepting full responsibility and trucking in barrels of water. But in El Salvador... affected communities had now seen firsthand evidence about the vulnerability of their water supply and mining's potential for disaster... Pacific Rim did not respond to repeated interview requests from The Real News, but it should be noted that there's no evidence that the company either ordered or advocated the crimes in question. However, activists in Cabañas claim that Pacific Rim...shower money on influential community members, politicians, and local elites...This, they say, creates a system of incentives that generates violent conflicts of interest inside poor communities.