Después de Siete Años y Millones de Dólares se Anuncia la Decisión del Caso de la empresa Pac Rim Mining vs El Salvador, Coalición de Organizaciones Declara “No hay Ganadores”

VICTORY! OceanaGold loses ISDS claim against El Salvador

Mediante Arbitraje inversionista-Estado se chantajea a El Salvador y se subvierte la Democracia

14 de Octubre de 2016

Cabañas, El Salvador / Washington DC / Ottawa / Melbourne – Organizaciones de la sociedad civil a nivel global, que apoyan a las organizaciones y comunidades de El Salvador que trabajan para proteger el medio ambiente de la minería, reaccionaron a la decisión del día de hoy del controversial Centro Internacional para el Arreglo de Disputas en Inversiones (CIADI) sobre el caso Pac Rim Cayman vs. El Salvador, el cual duró más de siete años, diciendo “no hay ganadores”. El viernes, 14 de octubre, el tribunal anunció su decisión de que la demanda de Pac Rim no tiene mérito y por lo tanto El Salvador no tendrá que pagar a la compañía los $250 millones de dólares que buscaba obtener.

En 2009, Pacific Rim Cayman LLC interpuso un caso inversionista – Estado en contra de El Salvador en el Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Diferencias relativas a Inversiones (CIADI) del Banco Mundial. La empresa minera, ahora una subsidiaria y propiedad de la empresa canadiense-australiana Oceana Gold, demandó a El Salvador por supuestas pérdidas de potenciales ganancias como resultado de no haber obtenido una concesión minera para un proyecto de extracción de oro. El gobierno de El Salvador no otorgó el permiso debido a que la compañía no cumplió con las regulaciones requeridas.

“El hecho de que Pacific Rim – ahora Oceana Gold – haya podido demandar a El Salvador cuando nunca tuvo licencia alguna para operar es un abuso del proceso,” dice Manuel Pérez Rocha del Institute for Policy Studies en Washington. “El que estas demandas se lleven a cabo al margen de un sistema judicial independiente y transparente demuestra por que nos oponemos al Acuerdo Transpacífico (TPP por sus siglas en inglés) y otros, así llamados, tratados de libre comercio”

Este caso llevó a el gobierno de El Salvador a tomar la decisión de no otorgar nuevos permisos para la minería. Esta decisión tiene un fuerte respaldo en El Salvador; una encuesta reciente realizada por la Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) indica que el 79.5% de los salvadoreños se oponen a la minería de oro en su país.

Las organizaciones de la sociedad civil de los cuatro países, que en el 2009 conformaron a los Aliados Internacionales contra la Minería en El Salvador, alaban y admiran los esfuerzos de las comunidades de El Salvador que se han opuesto a la empresa minera y han movilizado a la sociedad y gobierno de su país para que se opongan a nuevos proyectos mineros, a pesar de la presión de la empresa. Han manifestado disgusto de que El Salvador haya tenido que pagar $12 millones de dólares para financiar su defensa, de un caso en el que la empresa minera nunca cumplió con los requisitos legales y ambientales para obtener una licencia minera.

“Se ha hecho un daño irrevocable a las comunidades en El Salvador”, señala la Mesa Nacional frente a la Minería Metálica de El Salvador (La Mesa). “Las actividades de Pacific Rim en El Salvador han fomentado conflictos locales, los que han llevado a amenazas, ataques y asesinatos. Queremos que Oceana Gold, y toda la miseria que ha causado, se vayan de El Salvador, y que el gobierno promulgue una prohibición total de la minería metálica.”

“Al permitir que compañías transnacionales chantajeen a gobiernos para tratar de forzarlos a adoptar políticas que les favorezcan, el arbitraje inversionista – Estado socaba el orden democrático en El Salvador y alrededor del mundo” dice Marcos Orellana del Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “Independientemente del resultado, el arbitraje ya ha tenido el efecto de frenar el desarrollo e implementación del espacio necesario para la creación de políticas en favor de la protección del medio ambiente y del derecho humano al agua.”

“Este es uno de los muchos ejemplos que ya hay de empresas mineras canadienses haciendo uso del arbitraje internacional para abusar de gobiernos cuando sus proyectos mineros carecen del consentimiento comunitario y cuando no han cumplido con los requerimientos legales. En contraste, las comunidades carecen de medios efectivos para sujetar a estas mismas empresas a la rendición de cuentas por los serios y sistemáticos daños resultantes de sus operaciones”, dijo Jen Moore de MiningWatch Canada.
“Con este caso encontramos un ejemplo claro de todo lo que está mal con el arbitraje inversionista – Estado, ya sea que este surja por la aplicación de leyes domésticas o acuerdos bilaterales o multilaterales de inversión. La experiencia de El Salvador confirma la amenaza a los derechos humanos y al medio ambiente que ocurre cuando empresas demandan en tribunales como el CIADI”, explica Robin Broad, profesora de la American University.

Una empresa minera que se llama a si misma responsable no debe de usar mecanismos como el CIADI para forzar a gobiernos a promover sus intereses. Países como El Salvador tienen el derecho de decir no a la minería sin temor a una demanda enorme”, dijo Keith Slack de Oxfam America.
“Es inconcebible que en tiempos de escasez de agua, el régimen de comercio e inversiones global niegue a gobiernos de países con estrés hídrico, como El Salvador, el espacio para la creación de políticas que protejan las cuencas acuíferas y que aseguren el derecho humano al agua,” dice Maude Barlow, presidenta nacional del Consejo de los Canadienses.

“Fue moralmente reprobable que Oceana Gold demande $250 milllones de dólares al pueblo de El Salvador. Esta suma representa más de 10 veces el presupuesto anual del Ministerio del Ambiente y Recursos Naturales del país. Es una suma escandalosa para un país en crisis financiera, y que debiera ser utilizada de mejor manera en educación, salud u otros servicios sociales. Los meros costos legales para El Salvador son suficientes para pagar 2 años de cursos de alfabetización para 140,000 adultos,” dijo el Obispo Emérito Católico de Melbourne Australia, Hilton Deakin.

“Que quede claro: El Salvador ya ha perdido mucho con este arbitraje. El Salvador tuvo que pagar mas de $12 millones de dólares solamente para defenderse a si mismo. Los meros costos legales son suficientes para pagar 2 años de cursos de alfabetización para 140,000 adultos. Como mínimo Oceana Gold debe de rembolsar a El Salvador los costos en que incurrió con esta demanda, que nunca debió de haber ocurrido. También, Oceana Gold debe ser responsable por los daños sociales y ambientales que ha dejado atrás” dijo Alexis Stoumbelis del Comité en Solidaridad con el Pueblo del El Salvador (CISPES).

“Este es un caso más del ejercicio del poder corporativo en contra de una decisión gubernamental tomada democráticamente. Si Australia ratifica el TPP, más de esto ocurrirá” dijo Ged Kearney, Presidente del Consejo Australiano de Uniones Sindicales (ACTU).

“El sistema de disputas inversionista – Estado (ISDS por sus siglas en inglés) es parte de un modelo de comercio que antepone las necesidades de las corporaciones a las necesidades de los y las trabajadores y del planeta. El gobierno de El Salvador hizo lo que un sistema democrático responsable debe de hacer: Escuchó los deseos y las prioridades de su ciudadanía y acuó en consecuencia” dijo Cathy Feingold, Directora Internacional de la AFL-CIO (la principal central sindical estadounidense).
Contactos:
Amanda Kistler, CIEL – akistler@ciel.org, +1 202 742-5832
Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada – jen@miningwatch.ca, +1 613 569 3439
Manuel Pérez Rocha, IPS – manuel@ips-dc.org, + 1 240 838 6623
Laura Rusu, Oxfam America, laura.rusu@oxfam.org +1 202 459 3739
Robin Broad, American University, rbroad@american.edu, + 1 202 885 1478
Kevin Bracken, Maritime Union of Australia – kevin.bracken57@gmail.com
Sean Cleary, Edmund Rice Centre – sendwine@gmail.com, +  07-3376-8448

Los Aliados Internacionales contra la Minería en El Salvador es una aliaza compuesta de organizaciones en Australia, Canadá y Estados Unidos que apoyan al pueblo de El Salvador en su demanda por soberanía, el derecho al agua y a un medio ambiente sano. Cada organización que forma parte de los Aliados tiene una historia de trabajo en solidaridad con el pueblo Salvadoreño. Para mas información: www.stopesmining.org

Australian mining company OceanaGold has lost its attempt to claim $284 million in compensation from El Salvador’s government via the World Bank’s secret trade court. This is a major victory for local communities resisting gold mining in El Salvador and for other resisting OceanaGold’s operations around the world. A collection of news and analysis is shared here…

 


OceanaGold loses compensation claim against El Salvador

Originally published by Reuters on 14th October 2016. By Susan Taylor and Sonali Paul.

OceanaGold Corp (OGC.TO) (OGC.AX) has lost a claim seeking some $284 million in compensation from El Salvador for failing to issue permits allowing it to dig a gold mine in the Central American country, according to an arbitration decision announced on Friday.

The World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) found in favor of El Salvador, OceanaGold said in a press release, and the government was awarded $8 million to cover legal costs for the claim, first brought by Vancouver-based Pacific Rim Mining in 2009.

Pacific Rim was taken over in 2013 by OceanaGold, which continued to pursue the claim while at the same time trying to negotiate with the El Salvadoran government to win mining and environmental permits for its El Dorado project.

OceanaGold estimates El Dorado holds 1.5 million ounces of gold and 11.4 million ounces of silver resources.

The company said in a statement that it was disappointed with the tribunal’s decision and would review the ruling before evaluating the next steps for its El Salvador unit.

Pacific Rim first applied for a mining concession in 2005. El Salvador, however, has blocked new mining permits since 2008 amid concerns about potential damage to a major river and water supplies from cyanide, which is used to extract gold and silver from ore.

A coalition of non-profit groups, backed by the charity Oxfam, have long campaigned against mining in impoverished El Salvador, questioning whether mines with short lives can really aid long term development.

OceanaGold, which has assets in the Philippines, New Zealand and the United States, expects to produce 385,000 to 425,000 ounces of gold and 19,000 to 21,000 tonnes of copper in 2016.

 


 

Statement: The Struggle Continues Against OceanaGold

Originally posted by the International People’s Conference on Mining

The decision is finally out! The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICISD), has just ruled that OceanaGold’s case against the Government of El Salvador is without merit and the Government of El Salvador will not have to pay the company the $250 million it is demanding for alleged losses caused by a national mining moratorium executed by El Salvador. The country will also be awarded $8 million to cover legal costs for the claim.

The process leading to this decision has marked another milestone for the collective action of peoples in different countries resisting large-scale mining Trans National Corporations (TNCs), like OceanaGold. This lawsuit does not only show a glimpse of what is at stake with the moribund neoliberal free-trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Program (RCEP), it also reveals the relentless commitment of people across borders in building movements to defeat a mining giant in the world today.

Across the world, anti-mining networks stand in solidarity with the people of El Salvador. As a nation, they have defined and challenged the boundaries of TNC’s extractive operations by asserting their sovereignty against Canadian-Australian owned OceanaGold Corporation. The government of El Salvador did the correct and necessary step to prioritize its constituencies demand for clean water and a healthy environment. We remember the painstaking organizing that was met by threats, intimidation and even death. Marcelo Rivera, Ramiro Rivera Gómez, Felicita Echeverría, and Dora “Alicia” Recinos Sorto (who was eight months pregnant) were murdered because of their deep involvement of the campaign.

International solidarity poured in to strengthen the campaign against OceanaGold from various fronts. In August 2015, the International People’s Conference on Mining (IPCM) undertook a coordinated campaign against OceanaGold whereby a Campaign Core Group was created comprising of the following organizations: Kalikasan PNE, Amianan Salakniban, and the Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK) of the Philippines, Pacific Resource Asia Center of Japan, Kairos Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP), ANCoMP (Australian National Campaign on Mining in the Philippines), Migrante of Australia, and Radio Victoria and Asociation de Desarrollo Economica Social Santa Marta of El Salvador.

Several protest actions have since been conducted across the globe. In the recent OceanaGold General Assembly in Toronto Canada on June 9, 2016, Canadian solidarity groups denounced the environmental and human rights violations of OceanaGold in the Philippines and El Salvador.

On June 21, 2016, Mines and Communities protested in front of the venue of the Mining Confab in London where an OceanaGold official was one of the main speakers. In Australia, workers’ unions, migrant groups, and environmental groups continue to have regular protest actions on the last Friday of every month to expose the horrific record of OceanaGold. The last one was on Sept 30, 2016.

In El Salvador, there is a strong solidarity network linked to the Stop ES Network in the United States supporting the campaign against OceanaGold’s demand for $250 million in losses to be paid by El Salvador.  Several actions have been taken to pressure OceanaGold and the World Bank to drop the case.

Since June 17, 2016, there continues to be an ongoing community barricade in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines which has led to a temporary stop to the expansion of OceanaGold in that location.

On July 16, 2016, Kalikasan, together with the Filipino scientist group AGHAM, the USA chapter of Filipino multi-sectoral alliance BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance), IPCM, and the International Allies against Mining in El Salvador (Stop ES Mining) launched the international campaign on OceanaGold in a forum in New York.

At this year’s World Social Forum, Kalikasan People;s Network for the Environment, MiningWatch Canada, Kairos Canada, Development and Peace Canada, and Accion Ecologica Ecuador, convened a strategy workshop particularly for OceanaGold. It forged an international people’s campaign to further strengthen the demand to hold OceanaGold accountable for its atrocities committed in the countries where it has abused and exploited.

While the national campaigns and local resistance against OceanaGold operations in the Philippines and El Salvador continues, solidarity campaigns and groups in Australia, Canada, Japan and US have pledged to provide the needed international exposure and support.

In the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez recommended OceanaGold for suspension for the reason that there had been strong opposition of local communities and the Local Government Unit (LGU).

And most recently, in anticipation of the ICISD decision, groups and networks of El Salvador had a protest action in front of World Bank’s headquarters last October 7, 2016 and in the Philippinesin front of OceanaGold’s office last October 13, 2016.

Now more than ever, the world will continue to stand with El Salvador, the Philippines and all people fighting against large-scale mining to strengthen our global front against OceanaGold. The International People’s Conference on Mining plans to file a case at the Permanent People’s Tribunal against Oceanagold to hold them accountable for the environmental damage and human rights violations they have committed. The people’s struggle in the Philippines and El Salvador against OceanaGold will not rest until OceanaGold has extricated itself from these countries.


After Seven Years and Millions of Dollars, Decision Announced in Pac Rim Mining Company vs. El Salvador: Coalition of Groups States “There are No Winners”. Investor-State Arbitration Subverts Democracy

Originally published by The International Allies against Mining in El Salvador

Cabañas, El Salvador / Washington DC / Ottawa / Melbourne – Civil society groups worldwide that have allied with Salvadoran communities and organizations working on mining and environmental issues reacted to today’s decision by the controversial International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on the seven-year old case of Pac Rim Cayman vs. El Salvador, stating that “there are no winners” in this case.  On Friday, October 14, the tribunal announced their decision that Pac Rim’s lawsuit was without merit and hence that El Salvador will not have to pay the company the $250 million that it sought.

In 2009, Pac Rim Cayman LLC brought an “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) case against El Salvador at the World Bank Group’s arbitration venue, ICSID.  The company, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian-Australian company OceanaGold, sued El Salvador for alleged losses of potential profits as a result of not being granted a mining concession for a gold project. The government of El Salvador did not issue the concession because the company failed to meet key regulatory requirements.

“The fact that Pac Rim – now OceanaGold – could sue El Salvador when it has never had a license to operate, is an abuse of process,” says Manuel Pérez-Rocha of the Institute for Policy Studies. “That these suits take place far from any transparent, independent court system demonstrates why we are opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other so called free trade agreements.”

This case is part of what led the Government of El Salvador to decide not to issue new mining permits.  That decision has widespread support in El Salvador; a recent poll of the University of Central America (UCA) indicates that 79.5% of Salvadorans are against any gold mining.

The civil society groups from the four countries, which came together in 2009 as International Allies, praised the communities in El Salvador that have opposed the mining company and have rallied the Salvadoran public and government to oppose new mining projects despite heavy pressure from the mining company.  They expressed disgust that El Salvador had to pay over $12 million to fund its defense in a case where the mining company never fulfilled all the legal or environmental requirements for a mining license.

“Irrevocable damage has already been done to communities in El Salvador,” says the Salvadoran Roundtable against Metallic Mining (La Mesa).  “Pac Rim’s presence in El Salvador has fomented local conflict, which has led to threats, attacks, and assassinations. We want OceanaGold, and all the misery it has caused, out of El Salvador, and for the government to enact a prohibition on any metal mining.”

“By allowing transnational companies to blackmail governments to try to force them to adopt policies that favor corporations, investor-state arbitration undermines democracy in El Salvador and around the world,” says Marcos Orellana of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “Regardless of the outcome, the arbitration has had a chilling effect on the development and implementation of public policy necessary to protect the environment and the human right to water.”

“This is one of now far too many examples of Canadian mining companies making use of international arbitration to bully governments when their mine projects lack community consent and have not met legal or regulatory requirements. In contrast, communities have no effective means to hold these same companies to account for the systematic and serious harms resulting from their operations”, says Jen Moore of MiningWatch Canada.

“What we have now is a clear example of what is wrong with investor-state-dispute-settlement clauses, whether they are inserted in domestic laws or bilateral or multilateral investment agreements. El Salvador’s experience confirms the threats to human rights and the environment that occur when corporations bring a suit to tribunals like ICSID,” explained Robin Broad, professor at the American University.

“A mining company that calls itself responsible should not be using mechanisms like ICSID to force governments to do its bidding.  Countries like El Salvador have a right to say no to mining without fear of a massive lawsuit”, said Keith Slack of Oxfam America.

“At a time of water scarcity, it is unconscionable for the global trade and investment regime to deny governments of water-stressed countries like El Salvador the policy space to protect local watersheds and ensure the realization of the human right to water,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

“It was morally reprehensible for Oceana Gold to demand $250 million USD from the Salvadoran people. This is a staggering amount for a cash-strapped country that could be much better used for education, health care, or other social services. This amount would fund the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador for more than one decade. The legal costs alone are enough to pay for over 2 years of adult literacy classes for 140,000 people,” says Emeritus Catholic Bishop Hilton Deakin of Melbourne, Australia.

“Let us be clear: El Salvador has lost a lot during all this arbitration. El Salvador had to pay more than $12 million, just to defend itself. These legal costs are enough to pay for over 2 years of adult literacy classes for 140,000 people. At a minimum, OceanaGold should reimburse El Salvador for the costs of this suit, which never should have taken place. And it should also be responsible for the social and environmental damage left in its wake,” says Alexis Stoumbelis of CISPES.

“This is a yet another case of corporate power being exercised against a democratic Government decision. If Australia ratifies the TTP there will be more of this to come” said Ged Kearney President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

“ISDS is part of a trade model that puts the needs of corporations before the needs of workers and the planet. The Salvadoran government did what a responsive democratic system is supposed to do: it listened to the desires and priorities of its constituents and acted accordingly” said Cathy Feingold, International Director of the AFL-CIO.

 -//-

Contacts:Amanda Kistler, CIEL – akistler@ciel.org+1 202 742-5832Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada – jen@miningwatch.ca+1 613 569 3439Manuel Perez Rocha, IPS – manuel@ips-dc.org+ 1 240 838 6623Laura Rusu, Oxfam America, laura.rusu@oxfam.org +1 202 459 3739Robin Broad, American University, rbroad@american.edu+ 1 202 885 1478Kevin Bracken, Maritime Union of Australia – kevin.bracken57@gmail.com     Sean Cleary, Edmund Rice Centre – sendwine@gmail.com, +  07-3376-8448

The International Allies against Mining in El Salvador are made up of organizations from Australia, Canada and the United States that support the Salvadoran people as they demand sovereignty, the right to water, healthy communities and a clean environment. Each of the organizations that make up the Allies has a history of solidarity work with El Salvador. More information is available at: www.stopesmining.org

 

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