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Pregnant Anti-Mining Activist Assassinated in El Salvador

Second opponent to Pacific Rim slain this week

by Moira Peters


Nearly two years ago, he lost two fingers because he opposed a Canadian-owned gold mine in Cantina Trinidad, El Salvador. Yesterday, Jose Santos Rodriguez lost his wife, some say for the same reason.

Dora Alicia Sorto Recinos, 32, was shot and killed yesterday at 3:30 pm when she was returning home from doing laundry in a nearby river. She was eight months pregnant. Her son, who was accompanying her, was shot in the foot.

Santos Rodriguez is a farmer and active member of the Environmental Committee of Cabanas (CAC), a citizen group in opposition to Pacific Rim's proposed El Dorado gold mine. In April, 2008, he was attacked by Oscar Menjivar, a neighbour who had relationships with local mayors who supported the mine. In the attack, Menjivar cut off two of Santos Rodriguez' fingers with a machete.

According to a press release by Movimiento Unificado Francisco Sánchez-1932 (MUFRAS-32), Sorto Recinos had recently informed MUFRAS-32 that men with rifles had come to her house, looking for her husband. He was not home at the time.

The assassination of Sorto Recinos is the second murder this week of an opponent to Pacific Rim's proposed El Dorado mine, and the latest in a string of assassinations of civilian opponents to Canadian mining projects in Latin America.

Ramiro Rivera Gomez was shot and killed on December 20, in spite of 24-hour police protection.

MUFRAS-32 says the community is most alarmed by the lack of police investigation into these crimes.  There have been no arrests for Rivera Gomez' assassination, and the community sees only "the most serious lack of will in discovering the causes of these murders," according to the release.


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UPDATE

The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CIPSES) released the following press release and call to action. Please consider reading the following and writing a letter (contact info below); these letters do make a difference!

On December 26, Dora “Alicia” Sorto Recinos was murdered in El Salvador—the second anti-mining activist killed in less than a week in the small community of Trinidad in the department of Cabañas. Sorto Recinos was eight months pregnant and carrying her two-year old child when shot after doing laundry at a nearby river. The child, who was also shot in the leg is currently receiving medical attention.  Sorto Recinos and her life partner, José Santos Rodríguez, were outspoken opponents of the El Dorado gold mine, which Pacific Rim, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company, is desperate to open despite widespread community and governmental opposition. 

The death toll for Cabañas anti-mining activists has risen to 3 in the past week: 


•    Alicia Sorto Recinos was a member of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas, which has been extremely active in educating and mobilizing the local community against Pacific Rim’s El Dorado gold mine; her life partner José Rodríguez is a current board member of the committee and has personally received a number of recent death threats and survived three separate attempts against his life. 
•    Last week, the committee’s vice-president, Ramiro Rivera, was gunned down in front of his daughter, despite his 24-hour police protection since being shot eight times in August.  His neighbor Felicíta Echeverría was also killed in the attack.
•    The first murder occurred last June, when anti-mining and FMLN activist Marcelo Rivera (no relation to Ramiro) was found tortured and killed in Cabañas.

A common thread among the two most recent slayings is Oscar Menjívar. Currently awaiting trial for shooting Ramiro Rivera 8 times in August, he was previously arrested for attacking José Rodríguez with a machete.  Menjívar’s neighbors report that he was one of Pacific Rim Mining’s paid “promoters,” though Pacific Rim denies that he has ever been on payroll.

Violence has become a harsh reality for Cabañas residents since the arrival of Pacific Rim.  After community organizing efforts successfully blocked Pacific Rim’s attempts to obtain gold mining permits, the company filed a lawsuit against the Salvadoran government under CAFTA, the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages (watch the Real News video here). In recent months, it has proven especially dangerous to oppose mining in Cabañas, with a steady stream of attacks, death threats and attempted assassinations and kidnappings against community leaders and anti-mining activists.

Despite the overtly political overtones of these violent acts, whose frequency is only increasing, local police authorities and the former Attorney General's office have classified these cases as “common crimes”. Salvadorans are fearful and outraged by the continued violence and by the inability or unwillingness of the police and the office of the Attorney General to protect community activists like Alicia Sorto Recinos, Ramiro Rivera and Marcelo Rivera.

Community members believe that until these cases are thoroughly investigated for political motives and the perpetrators brought to justice, impunity against the mining resistance movement in Cabañas will continue, sending a message to the intellectual authors of these crimes that they can continue their wave of violence and murders without punishment. 

Act now and call on the Salvadoran Attorney General to carry out an exhaustive investigation of these murders and their motives AND demand that Pacific Rim recognize the social conflict surrounding the El Dorado mine and stop trying to mine in Cabañas!

ACTION:

1)    E-mail Rodolfo Delgado (radelgado@fgr.gob.sv), head of the Organized Crime unit of the Attorney General’s Office and demand that the Attorney General’s office:

•    Complete the recommendation of the Ombudsman in Defense of Human Rights Oscar Luna to create a special team with the National Civilian Police to investigate these murders and threats against environmental activists.
•    Investigate the cases exhaustively and impartially and bring the intellectual and material authors of the crimes to justice.

[See sample e-mail text at the end of this alert.] Please copy Human Rights Ombudsman Oscar Luna to your email, via his front desk: heidybrizuela@pddh.gob.sv and forward a copy of your sent email to cispes@cispes.org.

2)      Call Barbara Henderson, Vice President of Investor Relations at Pacific Rim Mining, using the talking points below. To call from the U.S. dial 1- (888) 775-7097, or from Canada (604) 689-1976, and then press ‘1’.

SAMPLE SCRIPT:

“Hello. I have been following Pacific Rim’s El Dorado mine and am extremely disturbed by the recent news of two community members who were murdered this past week.  These individuals were part of local organizations that have been actively opposing the El Dorado mine since 2004.  I call on CEO and President Thomas Shrake and Pacific Rim’s board of directors to recognize the social conflict the mine is causing and to make the moral decision to:

  • Immediately withdraw from Cabañas and cease all efforts to mine gold from the El Dorado site.  
  • Immediately withdraw its lawsuit against the government of El Salvador.  It is absolutely disgraceful for a company to sue a poor nation like El Salvador, especially when the Salvadoran people and government have every right to prevent cyanide gold extraction from destroying their lands and their communities.
  • Cooperate fully with the official investigations surrounding the murders of Alicia Sorto Recinos, Ramiro Rivera and Marcelo Rivera, providing full disclosure on all the people the company has contracted in the region and any other monetary transactions it has conducted among community members, organizations and local government officials.  Violence is tearing apart Cabañas, and the company has every obligation to offer its full support to bring to justice the perpetrators of these murdered community members, all of whom have openly opposed the El Dorado mine.  Thank you.”

would it ruin the time??

would pregnancy also ruin my time period of being pregnant. Do I have to controll on things that i'm used to doing regularly. Do i have to avoid drinking too??? and what else will I have to make it a perfect baby.


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