El Salvador Gold
El Salvador Gold
Toward a Mining Ban
Robin Broad and John Cavanagh demonstrate how one small country, El Salvador, long at the mercy of foreign powers and transnational corporations, has achieved near consensus that gold mining, and the destruction of water, land, and livelihood that go with it, must stop. Although not focused on a fossil fuel, the chapter highlights a similar resistance to destructive extraction. It challenges conventional notions of development, implicitly saying that wellbeing, not capital gains, is the most important return on investment. It shows how citizens, especially those whose livelihood depends on clean water and land, are in a struggle with the slow violence of short-term extraction and long-term toxicity. The case shows a struggle in which a transnational corporation can circumvent national sovereignty by reaching beyond national borders, in this case to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, housed at the World Bank. Salvadoran activists are creating their own politics of resistance. Keeping gold in the ground becomes an example of what marginalized communities face as they seek a decent life, one at moral odds with “twenty-first-century realism.”
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