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Showing posts from November, 2013

Pacific Rim now part of OceanaGold

OceanaGold has completed its acquisition of Pacific Rim, the Canadian gold mining company which has been stuck in years of litigation with the government of El Salvador over the country's moratorium on gold mining.

From the two companies' press release announcing the completion of the sale:
Mick Wilkes, Managing Director & CEO of OceanaGold commented, "I am very pleased to welcome Pacific Rim shareholders and employees to OceanaGold. I believe that our company strengths developed over the past twenty-three years in New Zealand and the Philippines provides for a strong platform to begin the successful journey with the many stakeholder groups in El Salvador. Our Company has a long and successful track record of operating gold mines in partnership with local communities in a safe and sustainable manner and we look forward to working with our key stakeholders in El Salvador to unlock the significant opportunity that exists at El Dorado for the people of El Salvador."…

What needs to be done

The United Nations Development Program's El Salvador office issued a comprehensive report on the state of human development in El Salvador last week.   Perhaps the report is best summarized in one quote which stated that for two centuries El Salvador "has ignored that the true source of generation of wealth is investment in the capacities of the people."

The report goes on in great detail to illustrate (a) the failure of the Salvadoran government to invest in poverty reduction and strong families,  (b) the poor state of the educational system in the country, and (c) an economy where almost 75% of the people in the workforce are under-employed.   After diagnosing the problems the report goes on to suggest policies which could start to address these shortfalls in the country's investment in its people.

If you read Spanish, I highly recommend you look at the summary presentation of the report, as well as the full document.

Unfortunately I have not seen any of the candid…

Saca's candidacy challenged

The Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Court is involving itself in political matters once again.   The court has agreed to hear challenges to former president Tony Saca's candidacy for president in the 2014 elections.   Saca was president between 2004 and 2009 and now is running on the ticket of the Unidad coalition.  
The blog from Voices on the Border lays out the legal challenge: The Court is considering three claims – 1) Saca, who was President of El Salvador from 2004-2009, isn’t eligible to run again until 2019; 2) he is guilty of fraud during his presidency; and 3) he has shares in corporations that have state contracts, which is a violation of Article 127 of the Constitution. Read the rest of the blog post to get the details on these claims.

This is not the first time the Constitutional Chamber has taken on cases involving El Salvador's election process.   Before the 2012 elections of mayors and legislators, the Chamber lessened political party power …

Context of the attack on ProBusqueda

A recent article from the Episcopal News Service provides context for understanding what's at stake with the recent attack where armed intruders ransacked the offices of human rights champion Pro-Busqueda:
In the early morning hours of Nov. 14, gunmen entered the office of Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos, the association for missing children. They detained three people, removed computers and other equipment, and destroyed files by dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire.  The attack came three days after the Supreme Court heard testimony from survivors – children whose parents were assassinated by government soldiers during a raid in 1982. Pro-Búsqueda represented the survivors in court, where no one from the armed forces showed up. Read the rest of the article here.


ProBusqueda offices ransacked

In a very alarming event, unknown armed men ransacked the offices of ProBusqueda, the human rights organization in El Salvador which investigates the cases of children who were kidnapped or disappeared from their families during the civil war, and has successfully reunited hundreds.

From the blog of our friends at the SHARE Foundation:

At 4:30am this morning in San Salvador, three armed men forced their way into the office of Probusqueda, a prominent Salvadoran human rights organization that searches for and reunites children who were forcibly disappeared during the civil war with their families.After the men attacked, tied up, and disarmed the security guard, they ascended to the second floor of the building, where Pro-Busqueda stored legal and advocacy documents, and burned archives containing police records that Probusqueda uses to search for lost children. They also stole two computers that held information concerning cases of the disappeared.Probusqueda representatives disclose th…

New poll results

La Prensa Grafica published new presidential polling results today. (The complete results are only available online in the e-paper edition which you access at this link, and then choosing the November 5 edition).  In the latest poll, Salvador Sanchez Ceren has taken a lead over Norman Quijano, while former president Tony Saca remains in third place.

Salvador Sanchez Ceren -- 29.4%
Norman Quijano -- 27.6%
Tony Saca -- 12.0%

Undecided remains the leader with 31%, so there is still a lot of room for change in these numbers before February 2.

The poll results for the second round are more interesting.   While Quijano still beats Sanchez Ceren in a second round,  the current vice president from the FMLN actually outpolls former president Tony Saca in a head to head contest.   That has not appeared in any other poll before today.

You can always view my tracking chart of all the published polls here.


Pacific Rim bought by OceanaGold

The Canadian gold mining company Pacific Rim announced on October 8 that it had signed an agreement to be acquired by OceanaGold Corp., an Australian mining firm.  The acquisition price reflects a premium of approximately 50% above where Pacific Rim shares had been trading.

Pacific Rim currently has a high profile international arbitration pending against the government of El Salvador relating to the government's refusal to issue a permit to allow the mining company to begin operations.  Apparently OceanaGold feels that the arbitration case, or the possibility of a negotiated resolution, is strong enough to warrant the investment in Pacific Rim.

According to the press release announcing the deal:
Mick Wilkes, Managing Director and CEO of OceanaGold commented, "We believe this transaction will provide OceanaGold shareholders with potential exposure to a high grade gold-silver resource located in a very prospective region. This project has the potential to be an economic engine…

Elections overview from COHA

Frederick Mills at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, has published a new essay on the upcoming presidential elections in El Salvador.  Here is the introduction:
The February 2014 presidential elections in El Salvador will determine whether the country continues to embrace the social democratic orientation of the incumbent FMLN or reverts to the neoliberal project of one of the contending right wing tickets (ARENA or UNIDAD). ARENA is the traditional right wing party founded in 1981. UNIDAD is a coalition or movement of right and center right parties (GANA, PCN y PDC).  This essay will draw some contrasts between the different directions the contending parties might take the country, examine some of the dynamics of the electoral contest, and finally urge the Obama administration to declare its neutrality with regard to the outcome of the elections to make it clear that Washington is not behind any campaign to subvert the democratic process in El Salvador. Mills does a pretty good job…

Where murderers are still celebrated

Image
Memorial to the victims of El Mozote, the majority
of whom were children of school age or younger.

Last week I took a group of 8 North Americans and 13 Salvadorans to the site of the El Mozote massacre in Morazan Department.   Other than one of the Salvadorans, I was the only person who had been to the site before.  The group was powerfully affected by the tale of the massacre, as told by a young woman who had lost more than a dozen relatives in the killing.
The military commander of the unit which carried out the massacre was Colonel Domingo Monterrosa.   Not only did he give the orders, but witnesses recount that he came to El Mozote that day in 1981 while the killing was being carried on.  (Mark Danner, The Truth of El Mozote, The New Yorker, December 6, 1993).  
Monterrosa died in October 1984, when a helicopter he was travelling in exploded over the hills of Morazan.   My group also visited the Museum of the Revolution, operated by the FMLN in Perquin.   There a former guerrilla …