“We declare that the mining industry is criminal”
The Society of Jesus’ Social Apostolate Commission in Central America invited representatives from the communities, environmental and grassroots organizations, Jesuit universities, indigenous peoples and Catholic and Evangelical churches of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama to meet in San Salvador September 17-20 to discuss the issue of extractive mining in Central America. This is the final declaration, also signed by envío.
Seminario Centroamericano de la CPAS
We, the institutions, organizations and representatives of peoples in resistance who have participated in the Central American Seminar to analyze “The mining industry: myths and realities,” organized by the Society of Jesus’ Social Apostolate Commission in Central America, have decided to conclude our testimonies, reflections, discussions and deliberations with this declaration:
* We declare that we are inspired by the love of life, solidarity and commitment to the victims and the dedication of martyrs of a predatory system that results in violence and poverty. We are motivated by the conviction of being jointly responsible for our planet as a gift from the God of Life, for us to share in dignity as our only communal home.
* We declare ourselves in permanent resistance against the mining industry and its exploitative transnational companies that generate social and environmental disasters constituting a growing threat to the life of the communities. Although mining is wealth, it currently operates within the rationale of transnationals that take that wealth away, in collusion with associates within each country.
* We declare that the mining industry and the concessions for exploiting other natural resources reflect an extractive, consumerist model that creates pollution. It is an exploitation based on a rationale of infinite consumption in a world with limited resources. Mineral wealth leaves the communities in the exploited areas in poverty and environmental disaster, which starkly contrasts with the increasingly luxurious and wasteful life of the mining companies’ owners.
* We declare that the mining industry has become so high-tech that it requires increasingly less labor and less time to extract mineral wealth, leaving in its wake accelerated environmental disaster and the destruction of traditional communal ways of life. A community can never be the same after being touched by mining exploitation; its social and cultural fabric is rent. Mining involves, fosters and instigates division and corruption.
* We declare that this resistance is a confrontation of two worldviews. The first sees Nature and the Earth as a mother, a source of life and a sacred gift for peoples and communities. The indigenous communities testify that “The Earth is our mother and the mining companies have destroyed her, they have split open her heart and this is an offense against God.” The other worldview is that of the mining companies. For them the mountains and the mines, the waters and the forests are all just business, money and growth, economic well-being, where everything must be converted into profit and capital.
* We declare that the mining industry, with all its consequences, is criminal and is causing a growing wave of resistance in communities linked to environmental and grassroots organizations. In contrast, the mining companies, allied with national entrepreneurs and public authorities, use the police, army and private security to threaten, persecute, kidnap and even kill community and other leaders.
* We declare that the mining companies conspire with members of our Congresses or Legislative Assemblies to approve legal instruments that have the dual purpose of minimizing the social and environmental costs of mining and criminalizing resistance struggles. The mining companies have made alliances with the media and with communicators and even formed media rings to control information, misrepresenting struggles and presenting the extractive and polluting mining industry as being “good for” the community, the State and society.
* We declare that our resistance struggles have the support of alliances with various national and international sectors that share our commitment to defend our common assets and territories and alternative communication strategies that manage to break through the media ring. How to embark on struggles to strengthen our identities so as to deal with the danger of allowing ourselves be dazzled by the mining companies’ gold and gifts? How to strengthen our ethical commitments and learn how to overcome the temptations of bribery, the mining companies’ attractive offers to improve our communities’ public services or the fears of threats and blackmail? How to form platforms and blocs that link national struggles with Central and Latin American struggles? These are the questions we must address in these alliances and strategies.
* We declare that, faithful to the Gospel, we will opt for the linking of various efforts in the common struggle for peace, health and life, defending and protecting our natural assets. Our struggle will be more credible and solid if it is based on ethical commitments and an avowed practice of austerity, recycling, saving and protecting Nature, attitudes that must start in our most immediate family and institutional settings.
* We declare that life is the most precious gift we have received from God and that we must continue defending it by all peaceful and nonviolent means. Based on this testimony, we raise our prayer to the God of Jesus Christ so that, with His Spirit, we will have the strength to follow in the footsteps of our Latin American martyrs on this path of dedication and benevolence until we achieve the peace that cloaks us in freedom as one people.
Signers: University of Central America (UCA) Audiovisual, El Salvador; CAFOD Central America; Caritas, El Salvador; UCA University Cultural Center, El Salvador; Nitlapán Research Center, UCA, Nicaragua; Ceprodec, Honduras; Cidea, UCA, Nicaragua; Central American Media Commission of the Society of Jesus (C-CAM); The Society of Jesus Social Apostolate Commission (CPAS); The Valle de Siria Environmental Committee, Honduras; Grassroots Ecclesial Communities of Nicaragua; Gnäbe-Buglé Coordinator, Panama; Catholic Relief Services, El Salvador; ERIC/Radio Progreso, Honduras; Faith and Joy, El Salvador; Local Development Fund (FDL), Nicaragua; Solidarity Group (Grudesa), El Arenal, Nicaragua; IARNA, Rafael Landívar University, Guatemala; ICE-CEFAS, Guatemala; IIS-UCR, Costa Rica; INGEP, Rafael Landívar University, Guatemala; Institute for Policy Studies, United States; Iduhca, El Salvador; Guatemalan Institute of Radio Education; The Compass, Rafael Landívar University, Guatemala; Javier Institute, Guatemala; envío magazine, Nicaragua; Roundtable Against Mining, El Salvador; Missionary Claretians of Honduras; Peaceful Resistance Movement, Guatemala; Oxfam America; Our Lady of Pilar parish, Arizona; Atlántida, Honduras; Saint Bartolomé of Arcatao parish, El Salvador; Sta. María Chiquimula parish, Guatemala; Ixcán Social Pastoral, Guatemala; Public Square, Rafael Landívar University, Guatemala; Belize Bridge Educative and Labor Project, Guatemala; Peace Bridge, Guatemala; Radio YSUCA, El Salvador; Jesuit Network for Migrants (RJM) of Central America; Seminary University, San José, Costa Rica; Seprojoven, Costa Rica; Jesuit Service for Migrants, Costa Rica and Panama; Jesuit Service for Refugees, Panama; Vice Chancellor for Social Projection, UCA, El Salvador… and other participating organizations.