Voices on the Border is very concerned with the recent violence in Cabañas and the following impunity. We’ve discussed the issue on our blog and recently sent a fact-finding delegation to Cabañas to further investigate the issue. Today, La Mesa Nacional published a press release about the recent impunity:
Worrisome act of impunity
March 24, 2010
Monday, March 15, the Ruling Court of Sensuntepeque freed Óscar Menjívar, Pacific Rim activist, who has a long history of aggressions against opponents of mineral extraction in Cabañas. This constitutes a worrisome act of impunity that could cause new crimes against environmentalists.
Among Menjívar’s crimes, the attempted aggression against Nelson Ventura, promoter for the Association of Social Economic Development of Santa Marta in April 2008; the stab wounds to Santos Rodríguez, inhabitant of Trinidad, in May of the same year; and an attack against Ramiro Rivera Gómez, member of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas, August 7, 2009, stand out. He was prosecuted for this last crime but was acquitted.
Despite the proof that confirmed Menjívar as one of Rivera’s attackers, the judge in question chose to leave the attack, in which the environmentalist received 8 gunshot wounds, unpunished. Rivera was finally assassinated December 20, 2009 and the material and intellectual authors of the homicide never have been identified.
The decision of the aforementioned court represents a condemnable act of impunity that not only impedes the application of justice, but also could cause new attacks and murders against the opposition of mining projects in Cabañas. Therefore, it is valid to hold the Ruling Court of Sensuntepeque and the Judicial System responsible for the consequences of freeing this Pacific Rim criminal.
The Round Table against Mineral Mining expresses its most profound worry about the prevalence of impunity in Cabañas, and makes a call to the authorities to obey the appeal of the Ombudsman for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH) and of the International Community, who have demanded justice on repeated occasions.
This deed also confirms the immediate need for the approval of a law that prohibits metal mining and demonstrates the urgency for the Government of Change to order the mining companies to leave the country as soon as possible in order to eliminate the cause of the conflict in Cabañas, which has already cost the lives of five people, among them 3 opponents of mining.
Despite the unacceptable resolution of the Ruling Court of Sensuntepeque, the ruling shows – through diverse testimonies recorded in the case’s file- that the cause of the conflicts in places where there are mining interests is the presence of Pacific Rim.
It is especially important to refute Pacific Rim, whose president, Thomas Shrake, recently assured- in a press release published on the company’s web site and later in an interview on Salvadoran television- that the conflicts in Cabañas are only due to the disputes between families and neighbors, but are not related to mining activities in said region
*Communications Committee of the National Roundtable against Mineral Mining