World Bank tribunal threatens El Salvadors democracy
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Energized by Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica, a large crowd in front of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. protested a lawsuit which serves as one of the most egregious examples of how World Bank tribunals favor multinational corporations over the people and the planet. Today’s event, held on El Salvador’s day of independence, challenges a World Bank system of arbitration that threatens the nation’s sovereignty and independence.
Denied a mining permit, Australian company OceanaGold has filed a $301 million suit against the government of El Salvador in the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. A three member arbitration tribunal convened a hearing this morning under the authority of the ICSID and an unfortunate Salvadoran law that mimics NAFTA’s investment chapter. The tribunal is holding El Salvador’s financial, democratic and ecological fate in its hands.
OceanaGold alleges that El Salvador violated investor rights when it denied its corporate predecessor, Pacific Rim, a permit to open a dangerous cyanide-leach gold mine at the basin of the Lempa River, which supplies water to more than half of El Salvador’s population.
Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica offered the following remarks:
“Friends of the Earth and our activists across the country and around the world demand justice for the people of El Salvador. We serve as witnesses, today, to the courage of the people of El Salvador, who in the face of threats, violence and murder, carry on the struggle against gold mining that endangers the water they drink and the sustainability of their farms. We call for the closure of the World Bank’s facility for investment tribunals. And we call also for the end of unjust trade deals, including the pending Trans Pacific and Trans Atlantic agreements, which give ‘super-rights’ to multinational corporations like Oceana Gold and its predecessor Pacific Rim.”