Interviewee: Marta (This is a pseudonym used for protection of the interviewee’s identity).
Interviewer: Martin Mowforth
Location: San Martín, El Salvador
Date: 19 January 2019
Themes: Interview with Marta about her experience as a migrant on one of the migrant caravans from El Salvador heading for the United States during 2018. Interview conducted  in a car surrounded by much traffic noise.

Key words: migration; human caravan; ‘coyotes’/traffickers; gangs.


Marta: Where do you want me to start?

Martin: From your departure from El Salvador, on the first caravan.

Marta: I went on the first caravan where there were a lot of Hondurans. I left from here in El Salvador on Friday 20th October [2018] and I arrived on Sunday [uncertain date] at 2 in the morning where we were crossing the Río Hietucumbando [?]. I was incorporated into the throng in the Ciudad Hidalgo Park where there were all the people from a caravan who still hadn’t made it. I was with my grandson and a neighbour who had also come with me, and we were waiting for them to get up at 4 in the morning. They got up at 3:30 in the morning and we began to walk to get to Tapachula.

Our aim was to make it along the whole road and I’m not sure if it’s about 38 or 40 kilometres from Ciudad Hidalgo to Tapachula; but we arrived at 6 pm, or around 5:30 pm at Tapachula. That was the first section that we walked in the journey. There were masses of people, going carefully because there were migration patrols and police too.

Martin: Were there coyotes as well?

Marta: Well the coyotes I found out when we were there … Yes, I did a lot to get to Guadalajara. We were there for two days and I saw this man who seemed suspicious to me, and we began to talk.

“What do you do,” I asked.

“Right now there are many coyotes with your people. Because I know that with the same situation of the caravan they couldn’t pass themselves off as mere people.” And then, “Yes, I’m one of them,” he told me. “I brought eight people here.”

“Really? And it was no problem?”

I said to him, “Because you’re charging a fee to get these people and to bring them here. And México is giving them food, and you bring them here.”

“Yes, but only to get them to this point. There’s a zone where they won’t let them pass, where they have to pay; and I fear that they’ll get rid of me too.”

I don’t know, perhaps it’s the narcos, I don’t know. He didn’t explain it to me very well. “They won’t let you pass through this zone and you could be kidnapped. So here I’m going to be with you and everything is relaxed, and I’m here to go with you if you want to go onto another state.”

When we got to México City, I saw him twice, but I never got to know the people that he brought. I saw him because he’s from here, a Salvadoran, and I had seen him in México.

Martin: And what did you do in Tijuana?

Marta: In Tijuana?

Martin: Yes.

Marta: Well, when we reached México City, they sent us to Tijuana. There they received us in the Benito Juárez Auditorium. There they told us where we were, all of arrived, and they put us up. Well, in my case, I didn’t go in because I was carrying a child, and I hadn’t registered in the caravan. I always tried to avoid it whenever they were passing lists around. Because I didn’t want him to be recorded as being on the caravan to the United States; firstly because I didn’t take him with me because I wanted to, rather because the pandillas (gangs) wanted him to join them. Because he was a child of 15 years old, so here in El Salvador when they become young adolescents, young men, they are obliged to join the gangs; and I was fearful of that. I’d already told his mum and she told me, “look, mum, you’ve got the have a chance to join the caravan.” And thank God it happened and I brought him with me; I felt that I was saving his life because if he got roped into the gangs he would have only three options: prison, hospital or the cemetery. So, I brought him with me, thank God.

From the time when we began to enter México, as we were arriving in the streets there were lorries with water, fruit, food. And where we got to sleep there were medics who spent the whole night with us. For me it was a good experience and I thank God because at least we didn’t suffer like others had done.

We didn’t know if on an event like this – I went on the caravan – I didn’t know if we were going to be able to eat or if there would be nothing to eat, where to sleep, or if anyone would give me water. You go ready for everything.

Also on the caravan you have two aims: one is to incorporate yourself into the caravan and to get through México without problems. There are organisers who talk with the authorities so that they allow safe passage, to go and not to have to spend anything, thank God. The other is the final point at whichever frontier. In our case we got to Tijuana and there, as we say in our country, “Snub, snub, each to their own house.” So, once there, there were those who had relatives who came to collect them, others who stayed there waiting for documents, and others who wanted to enter the United States. And my aim was to get there to Tijuana, and to find out how this child could enter the United States, and with God’s help my daughter also had contacts there, and so I managed to deliver him into the hands of some lawyers who had a house in Tijuana. We went there and I managed to leave him and he was there for fifteen days. Afterwards he had the bad luck, on the day that I came back to El Salvador, and when he was to get into the United States, the Mexican migration got him and he spent five days in jail at the frontier. But the same lawyers were able to get him out. But he was there for another 15 days because by chance a congressional representative arrived – he was a friend of a reporter who was a friend of my daughter, of the boy’s mother. So she told him, “look, you’re going to México to see the emigrants, aren’t you? I’m not going to go because I’m going to Casa Venta; so you go and bring Vladimir back to me,” she said (because Vladimir is Veronica’s son). It’s a case where they see the caravan and all of a sudden he says to me “they’re going to interview me mum.” And I was interviewed a lot too by reporters who came from Los Angeles to Tijuana. And that’s how it was with the congressional representative who came and got him through, passing by migration. So he’s in Florida hoping that one day I’ll take a plane and he’ll say I’ve left.

I’m still not completely happy; I wanted to see my son who also left because he’s still in immigration. But I have faith in God that our walk and the sacrifice, the effort that we made – because we put up with storms, we got exhausted, we slept in the street, but …..

Martin: And how did you get back?

Marta: I came back when I’d already delivered the child and I said to my daughter “Daughter, I have nothing more to do here; the child is in the hands of the authorities who will look after him, who will deliver him to the North American immigration authorities. I’m going back to my country. So I bought a direct ticket, from Tijuana to Tapachula; from Tapachula to Guatemala; and from Guatemala to El Salvador. And that’s how I’m here, thanking God.

Martin: By bus?

Marta: By bus. What a journey in the caravan and nobody is going to say I’m lying. I know that’s how it was. Also I know that’s a good caravan.

Martin: An adventure.

Marta: Certainly an adventure.

Martin: But do you want to do it again, or not? To try it another time?

Marta: Well I would say if in the case for example, I have two grandchildren and they said to me that they have problems and wanted to join a caravan, yes, I would do it again. Because a mother tries to help her sons in whatever way is possible for her. And I saw that whilst you go with God in the caravan, I always put myself as near as possible to the organisers and close to the reporters and the authorities – it’s always best to be near them. And I used to get upon the trucks which migration had sent to give us rides. One lorry I didn’t get up on was one that lost a lot of people – sadly they lost 100 people – we didn’t notice because we were many thousands of people. There were rumours, but I didn’t see them and so I’m not going to say that it’s certain, but I did hear the rumours. They told us that they wanted to steal children too, there were rumours, but again I didn’t see it so I’m not going to talk about it. There was an accusation that some people were stealing children in the night, but I can’t be certain because I didn’t see it. There were loads of people. But thank God, everything worked out OK for me.

Martin: Many thanks and good luck in the future. 

Marta: Yes, like I said, I’m an adventurous woman.

Martin : OK, thanks.

Carlos Flores

Interviewee: Carlos Flores of the Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña (UNES)
Interviewer: Martin Mowforth
Location: UNES office, San Salvador, El Salvador
Date: 30 July 2010
Theme: TBC
Keywords: TBC


Martin Mowforth (MM): I have more specific questions about this topic, with reference to Coca Cola and the use of the Lempa river, but first I would like you to tell me your thoughts about the water supply in this country.

Carlos Flores (CF): Perhaps it is best to begin by saying that the problem of privatisation in El Salvador is present, lying dormant, but it is not the main problem.  Already, water is in crisis and still supply systems are not privatised.  I am not saying that they will improve if they are privatised, nor that the actual scheme is the best that there is to manage the water.

MM: But still there is a crisis­?

CF: Yes, there is. The water problem in El Salvador is the main socio-environmental problem; there are conflicts between communities, municipalities, commercial communities, and governmental ministries and communities.

MM: What is ANDA’s role?

CF: ANDA is an autonomous institution that is responsible for providing the water supply service.  ANDA holds part of the responsibility for the water problem in this country.  The law of creation says that ANDAs role is to supply water to all citizens and provide systems of sanitation.  We must check whether this has been achieved or not, this is a test that we must do.  This is enough analysis on this matter.

MM: With regard to water supply in the capital area, what is the current status of water quality?

CF: I agree with ANDA that the water is of good quality.

MM: The ‘quality’ includes more than just the quality of water.  I was also thinking of the quality of the service.

CF: The problem of water supply is a complex one.  If we focus on San Salvador, access is almost 95% of the capital area.  The people that live in the metropolitan area of San Salvador, mainly in the heavily populated and poor areas, have access to a stream, a pipe, but this does not automatically guarantee that they have water.  For example, Soyapango, the communities of Ilopango in San Marcos.  Almost all of these colonies have access to a pipe, but they have frequently had prolonged water cuts.  It is also very common to have a periodic water supply, sometimes once a week.  There are communities that have water once every two weeks, and some once a month.  Thus, the quality of water service is quite periodic.  This is the first element.

The quality of water is not guaranteed.  ANDA takes samples at the source, or where it is sent, or where the water arrives and where it is distributed, but we must check the quality of the transport mechanisms, as they are basically pipe systems, which, being quite old (30 or 40 years) leak in parts.  So, the problem with systems so obsolete is that they do not guarantee the quality of the water.

When there are long periods without water supply, the problem is that the systems generate a reverse pressure, so that the water goes out instead of into the pipe.  When this occurs, the pipes tend to leak and pipes rupture, so anything from earth and organic matter to raw sewage can enter into the water.  Thus, the quality of water reaching the family homes could be guaranteed under current conditions.

We are talking about a service that is unprofitable, since we are talking about communities that do not have a regular service.  This can be explained and I will try to give a technical explanation, but it is not too technical.  Technical in the sense of hydraulic solutions, to seek more wells or to extend the pipes, the problem is that the water nearby, i.e. the aquifer in San Salvador always produces less water.  This has forced ANDA to implement different projects, there is one in particular that is called The Pavas Plant (la Planta de las Pavas) that provides San Salvador with almost 40% of the water used, which is a large quantity of water.  The water is transported almost 40 kilometres which is very costly for ANDA.   And there is a problem, because in San Salvador ANDA produces close to 5 cubic meters per second, and loses almost 50% (2.5 cubic meters).  This is a large quantity of resources to lose and it is directly impacting the service that is received by the people that live in the capital.  It is not possible to achieve zero leakage, there is no system that is perfect, but we cannot continue maintaining a scheme like the one we have now.  This has its origin in a system of neglect, an attitude that has given little importance to water in general and the service of supply and sanitation.  This lack of interest is translated into little public investment by the San Salvadorian state in this area.  The people that make the decisions are not interested in how to fully resolve the problem, because suddenly a loan is obtained to put a patch on the problem, to make another supply plant or to construct a sporadic sanitation plant.  There is not a state policy which tells us or which can send us an increasing or sustained level of investment which would help us to resolve this problem.  There is no planning system that they can tell us, well, this pipe is 40 years old, and it has to be changed.  This leads to an additional problem – the sewage pipes of San Salvador.  The sewage system in San Salvador already is between 40 and 50 years old.  This puts us in a very serious position because when we are talking about sewage sanitation, we are talking about sewage pipes of a larger diameter.  If these pipes start to fail …  The same applies for rain water pipes, because they already have the same life.  The problem is that these pipes are beginning to collapse which leads us to the problem that we are facing right now in San Salvador – the appearance of gullies, large-scale holes in the middle of the city, that are becoming more frequent.  We dedicate state resources to, literally, cover these holes, without even really planning to make this investment.  We should plan it better but we have to plan it now, and still it is not planned.  At present we are making a diagnosis to see which pipes should be changed.  We are beginning to make the diagnosis, even though we do not have resources reserved.  We think that it is necessary to give it our full attention: we talk of leaks in pipes that are obsolete; we talk of the collapse of pipes for sewage and rainwater.  This is the system in San Salvador.  We are talking about the scarcity or the deepening of water tables, mainly because the aquifer of San Salvador is going down very quickly.  This is forcing us to make plans to transfer water from other basins.  And thus is San Salvador, the Salvadoran territory is the space where the most users are connected to the supply system and to the sewage system, but in practical terms the concentration of population receives the least water per capita and gives the least treatment of waste water.

MM: Do you know if the water table has been affected by pesticides or residues of any other chemical, fertilizers perhaps?

CF: There are no studies about the quality of the water at this level.  At the beginning of this year, as part of World Water Day, the Environmental Minister made an announcement that all of the surface water in El Salvador is contaminated, i.e. there is no safe water in El Salvador, and some water is prohibited, even for bathing.  This was the announcement, which was very worrying.  I could give indicators that could tell us that there are problems with sewage.

MM: I have been told that there is a study by the university, but also by UNES about water pollution.

CF: No, we haven’t done a study on pollution.  But there is a study about the quality of El Salvadoran water by the Ministry of the Environment.  In El Salvador, there is the capacity for sewage treatment, although only for 14% of sewage, but what really is purified is 10% of the water.  This indicates that there are problems with sewage.  In the case of the industries it is more difficult, because there are more or less 1,600 companies in El Salvador, and if we manage to get 300 to treat their sewage then that it good enough.  So, we are very far from achieving the treatment of sewage and the control of sewage.

In the case of pesticides, in El Salvador prohibited pesticides are still sold.  This can be taken as an indicator of what we can find.  There are many water boards – the water board is a community organisation that manages a supply system – that are faced with doing the chemical analysis of water parameters that are found to be very high in lead, boron, cadmium.  These chemicals appear suddenly, and just as suddenly have disappeared from the water supply.  It is not a systematic analysis but we receive these types of complaints and we see them as precise indicators of what we can find.  In this country, this type of study is very expensive, they could be done by the Ministry of the Environment, but they are not.

MM:  As for the access to drinking water in rural areas, could you give me some sources of data for this, apart from the United Nations?

CF: We recently did an investigation, and in March we held the second regional meeting for organisations that work in the field of water, it is called Towards the construction of a new public institution for the management of water and sanitation.  So, we have an investigation in El Salvador which highlights the problems of water in terms of supply.  Broadly, this is a form of community management of water in El Salvador which is supplying close to 19% of the population.  This shows that there is a serious problem in this country, because ANDA, which is the public institution that is ordered by law to do this, is supplying only 40% of the Salvadoran population with its supply service.  The remainder are supplied by water management boards, between municipalities and a system known as the self-sufficiency system, which is a system run by construction companies that implement water supply systems to make their own projects seem attractive.

MM:  This type of exchange is like a planning benefit because the company can have permission to do what it wants to do, and in exchange they supply water to a percentage of houses.

CF:  Exactly. And there emerges a problem.  The problem is that legally they are only taking part, the supply systems are only directly regulated by ANDA, legally.  There are the municipalities, the water boards and there are the self-sufficient systems that would be the will of God.  In the case of the water board systems, it is the people from rural communities, who are very poor, that often have to pay five or six times more than they would pay for urban systems, such as the one supplied by ANDA.  It is like a paradox, because ANDA has a water subsidy, which applies to users, which until recently were all users of ANDA, including the people that have the means to pay and that have had a great capacity for squandering water.  So, we have ended up subsidising the middle class and rich people, and we have been forcing people to pay, first the bill, but after the bill, for the cost of the construction of the supply system.

When we speak of supply we leave the most profound issue that the supply, the final supply that indicates to us how the state can break its promises, … (missing transcription) … the obligation to guarantee the right to water and committing injustices, like the issue of the subsidies.  But the water problem in El Salvador is much more severe than the supply, because the water problem is expressed in drought, floods and landslides. In El Salvador we go from periods of drought to flooding.  This has, without any doubt, to do with the effects of climate change, which is an external phenomenon.

Undoubtedly, there is another important component here which is the development model that has been implemented in this country and the rest of this region, which makes us more vulnerable to these impacts.  So, the water problem that I mentioned is drought, flooding, pollution and water shortages.  We see it as it is, but there are underlying structural causes.

MM: You can also link the problem to deforestation during the years of the war and afterwards?

CF:  It is the historic process of the implementation of different types of agro-export models, of the implementation of monocultures.  The 700’s began with the cultivation of indigo, and for this, crops were destroyed to the quantity of … (missing translation) … Deforestation has its origin in this: indigo, coffee, after the coffee it changed the land use to the mountains, after came the sugar cane, cotton and after all this, the processes that come associated with the neoliberal model, the intention to turn El Salvador into a ‘service-hub’.

MM: To make our clothes in the West.

CF: Yes, Singapore style.  It has cost us what we had.

MM:  I do not know much about the problems caused by Coca-Cola in Nejapa or near to Nejapa.  Do you know anything about this?

CF: Not so much, but I can make approximations.  Coca-Cola has not been in Nejapa for very long.  It was in Soyapango for ten years.  Soyapango was one of the zones with the richest aquifer in San Salvador.  Coca Cola dried up around 40 wells in the aquifer and when there were no wells left nearby, they packed their bags and left for Nejapa, which is another area that supplies San Salvador with water.  Competition is needed to supply San Salvador or to give water to the companies.  The previous administration of ANDA had a pretty good arrangement to save water for businesses, it was to open wells, to do research, and to find out if there was enough water to save for investments, sacrificing the need for water in San Salvador.  There were 15 or 20 open wells that had a good supply capacity, but they were not used for this … So, Coca-Cola is doing global research about its impact on the neighbouring communities.  For this report they have chosen three countries and one of them is El Salvador.  The organisation that is developing this report is called Offam America, and they invited me to listen to the progress of the investigation in El Salvador.

MM:  This was recently?

CF:  It was last November, it still isn’t finished.  If they finish it, they will not return to invite me, but it was supposed to be finished in April.  The progress was until November, we were invited to listen to everything that they had achieved so that from what we said, they could explore other elements.   To me it seemed peculiar, first because in the report they still took it that water is an indispensible material for production, they did not put it in the costs of production.  They said that the chemicals of Coca-Cola were the first input, the production plant was the second input and that the labour that they took from Nejapa and Quetzaltepeque was the third input.  Water was not yet there.  I made this comment.  Another thing that interested me is that they had quite an emphasis on the fact that they respect the laws of the country, i.e. that they pay the amount that the law states and that the tariff s that ANDA charge them are 6 centavos and they pay the 6 centavos for the 149,000 cubic meters that they use per year (149,000 m³).  It is interesting because in El Salvador we do not have a General Water Law and it is peculiar because between 1998 and 2005 they discussed ten draft bills, they constructed them, and they paid for them with loans. Then, consultants came from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Spain, each one to make their proposal for the law, from their vision and emphasis etc. Some proposals involved privatisation, others did not, but in general they were all very loose about the issue of regulation.  What is interesting is that nothing was approved by the private sector (they were only consulted) so nothing was official and therefore nothing was passed at the Legislative Assembly.  So, I made this comment as a joke: that it is so easy to comply with the law when the law permits me to do anything I want and it is so easy to obey the law when I determine whether or not there is a law.  And here lies the problem.  We can analyse what Coca Cola does.  And because they have already complied with ANDA’s 6 centavos, which is almost $20,000 per year, mission accomplished.  They say that they go there because they have two basin management projects with those who spend maybe $10,000 per year and they go to give bottles of water to the communities that do not have them.  With this issue addressed in the current conditions, we say very little.  If there were more restrictive laws and if there were institutions that had the ability to monitor and to regulate, then we could see how to confront them.  Under the current conditions, however, they give us a sweet and we are happy and we feel that we have won.

MM:  One last thing.  Could you give me a few words about free trade in this country, and specifically the working conditions within the factories? I know that these are different issues, but they are also linked and I wonder if the free trade treaties (CAFTA-RD and the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union) have clauses and articles about the conditions in the factories.

CF:  I am going to respond firstly to the environmental issue and afterwards to the topic of the factories.  The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States (US) already causes us a problem.  At present, we are faced with two international demands on the issue of mining: Pacific RIM and Commerce Group Corp.  They have each demanded $100 million from us respectively, covered in the FTA.  At the moment this impact is more severe than it looks, not for the $100 million each, but because there are 29 exploration permits that have been given, so there could be 29 demands for $100 million for the FTA with the US.  Here there is another problem which is the present government’s necessity to continue negotiating free trade treaties, because they are also negotiating under the table an FTA with Canada.  We do not trade anything with Canada, maybe some pupusas (typical El Salvadorian tortilla).  Canada’s interest in El Salvador is in gold and silver, so the FTA is gold and silver, and we are still determined to negotiate this treaty, despite the implications that it could have.  With the European Union (EU) we have more or less the same history.  In the AA we begin with everything that has been negotiated with the US, that the EU’s AA already has, and we negotiate from there up.  And this is not a good thing.  With the EU, what is it that runs a risk? The environmental issue.  1) Biodiversity, 2) The agrochemicals business, i.e. the pollution from agriculture, there is Monsanto, Merck, etc, and 3) medicine.  These are the biggest businesses that the EU has. In addition, the telephone, but that is another issue … Here are the impacts that we see and the impacts that are not so far away because already some are beginning to occur.  When we speak of biodiversity, we mean the threat of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) which would become almost an obligation in this treaty.

MM:  This is a part of the treaties.

CF:  Of course.  On the issue of the factories, here there is not too much to regulate, the factories in El Salvador are a branch of Europe in the 1700’s, still since the times of slavery.  Various studies have shown the serious breaches of human rights in the factories.  Here there is not too much to regulate, because nothing is regulated, apart from the minimum wage which is being pushed very strongly in El Salvador in order to make the working hours more flexible, to hire by the hour and provide no overtime pay.  The treaty has not gone into much depth on this issue because it has not been necessary.  Already the conditions are fairly good within the companies, and also El Salvador is not one of the main strengths, it is not a very attractive country for businesses.  It does not have the water supply system that it needs and electricity is very expensive.  So, between China and El Salvador, companies go to China or Asia, where the conditions are much worse than here.

MM: The two M’s are terrible for El Salvador, Migration and Maquilas (factories).


Delmy Valencia

Interviewee: Delmy Valencia
Interviewer: Martin Mowforth
Location: CIS, San Salvador, El Salvador
Date: 28th July 2010
Theme: A wide-ranging discussion of development issues in El Salvador, but especially covering the CAFTA-DR free trade treaty and maquilas.
Keywords: TBC


Delmy Valencia (DV): The recent storm Ida which battered the country caused a price increase in vegetables, because this storm came to ruin the crops. 80 per cent of the vegetables consumed in El Salvador come from Guatemala, we buy bananas from Honduras, and we buy cheese from Nicaragua. The natural disaster affected these countries, ruining the crops. There was a brief shortage of vegetables which caused a rise in prices, an increase in dairy products, and an increase in the cost of bananas that we get from Honduras because our own production is not enough. So there was a loss of a million (dollars?) in crops.

The government is currently distributing agricultural kits, giving farmers seeds for purple bean, sorghum, corn, coffee, because the campesino does not have the economic resources to buy fertilisers and to harvest as in previous years. This has been done to make sure there is enough production so that at least we do not have shortages of these products in the market.

As a result of all this, at no point were the prices of foodstuffs lowered again. The National Service of Territorial Studies (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, SNET) is taking precautions against various tropical storms that are coming and will cause problems in the region and we are very aware that we will have food shortages. What measures are the Government taking? Well, I already mentioned that the Government has a unit which is providing all such measures to help alleviate the situation. I have not mentioned that such an environmental problem has caused gullies (by soil erosion). There are houses which have been carried away by the mud coming down from the mountains.

So, with the food problem we rely heavily on Guatemala; we have to buy grain, we depend on other countries with this issue. We believe that the food shortages, even if we have the support of the World Food Programme for the most essential needs, there may come a time when we will have the money to buy, but we are not going to have to buy. This is something that the Government must move forward, take measures that will enable us to address these types of situations, because we could end up having famines. So, the efforts currently being made by the Government with regards to Central American integration, if we do not fight because the five Central American countries are becoming a nation without borders, where will we be able to exchange without legal bindings or borders this problem. We are going to have a crisis which could lead us to other problems, like what I was pointing out about water.

With water, we could end up with a serious social problem. There is one study, by the person who we will meet this afternoon, they have an estimate on how long before we are going to be buying water from other countries.

So, the food issue is very important, it is an issue which needs to be addressed in greater depth. We have lost millions which has forced us to try and buy from other countries, but Guatemala did not have anything for itself, much less to sell to us, as the storm Ida also affected them. That has created a series of problems and the first has been the rise in food prices.

The Free Trade Agreement is a huge issue. I do not know who you are going to speak with about this Agreement.

Martin Mowforth (MM): In other countries, but here, no. We have already addressed this issue in various interviews, in Panama and Costa Rica. This topic is the least developed in the current chapters. I have been following not only the development of CAFTA, but also the European Union Association Agreement.

DV: One person who could give you very valuable information and who has written books and has been on the board of … Dr. Raúl Moreno, an economist. He wrote a book about the Free Trade Agreement.

MM: One issue that interests us especially in El Salvador, is the issue of water and water supply, privatisation or efforts to privatise it and the campaign against privatisation. I understand that the Suchitoto 14 was a problem caused by water privatisation. Could you tell me more about this issue and your views on what is happening and how the campaign against privatisation is going?

DV: Thank you for the opportunity to share with you some issues to do with the development of my country, especially on an issue as important as water. Specifically, I was involved in the events which happened in Suchitoto which had to do with an attempt by the Executive Power, then president Antonio Saca, who sought release from the city of Suchitoto, which is a city where the FMLN has governed since they signed the peace accords and is a landmark city in the country, especially for the Left, the first law of privatisation of water.

Many social organisations and NGOs found out about this attempt at privatisation and there was a demonstration by all the social organisations in the country and of non-governmental entities, to try and stop what they were trying to do that day. The protests by the social organisations were suppressed by the Saca Government in a combined military action with the National Civil Police. It was the police chief at that time who was later the presidential candidate for ARENA, Rodrigo Ávila. The social organisations attempted to block the road, to prevent the leader reaching Suchitoto. There was also a demonstration boat in the Lake Suchitlán, to block some of the intents of the Salvadoran ruler.

These demonstrations were suppressed by the army, supported by helicopters, large amounts of tear gas was used, some people were hit, some were caught, and with these actions the attempt at water privatisation immediately failed, but those caught were subjected to the anti-terrorism law. Then there was a commotion at the international level because this has to do with the life blood of our population. As a result we had people who were tried. Later, after the trial, the people arrested were dismissed, that is, they were released, but under pressure from national civil society and under pressure from international agencies. It was almost heroic, the actions of those people who were imprisoned, who were mistreated, whose human rights were violated.

MM: How long did they spend in prison?

DV: More than two months. The US on this issue, before then we were visited by a foundation, a niece of the ex-president Kennedy, daughter of the Senator came to the front … Kennedy in support of saying yes to water and no to privatisation.

The government agency that administers water here is called ANDA and it supposedly delivers the service at a basic minimum cost. And it should also be noted that there are municipalities, such as the municipality of Suchitoto which delivers water services for the city of Suchitoto where the FMLN govern. That is an example of how municipalities can supply water. There are some non-governmental associations, such as the association in the municipality of San Pedro Perulapán in the Cuscatlán province, called ACOSAMA, which administers water and which also takes care of the environment. This civil society organisation was financed with funds from USAID through CARE. In the country we also have non-private institutions that deliver water services.

So we have three types of water delivery to the population: one through associations, the other through the municipalities, and ….. (no mention of the third, presumably the non-private institutions No, the other being ANDA).

The country has seen declining levels of water collection as a consequence of deforestation and neglect of the environment. Construction companies have destroyed large areas of land, farms, with a zeal and spirit for accumulating economic resources. They have built, then there has been incredible deforestation. This has happened over the last 20 years. So as a result El Salvador is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. Here it rains one hour too hard, we already have emergencies in some places, the ground is very loose and full of water, and on top of that we have the water pipes, the piping that goes in, that of the houses, the piping is old, they are old water systems and when they block up the drains they cause serious flooding. We have had some serious misfortunes.

I think that very soon in this country we will have to be buying water from another country. We believe it could be a fight for water. Water is becoming more and more scarce every day, precisely because we have not looked after the environment. Many trees have been cut down, large farms have been turned into residential development estates, nature has hit us with earthquakes, this is a country where the earth shakes a lot and this has filled in springs and other sources of water. With the natural disasters, storms and tropical depressions that we have experienced, our land has been eroded and washed away too much, but also major springs have been covered.

To some extent there is a cultural reason that has contributed to this problem, which is that in the countryside we have many people that chop down trees for firewood; so, they cut down trees but they do not plant them. That has also contributed. The modernisation in which we find ourselves with regards to plastics, bottles and disposable products also has created problems and we are going to have a water crisis very soon.

The fight against privatisation of water is a fair fight in which all the Salvadorans must get involved. There are bodies which are fighting for this and it is not yet resolved, for example UNES (Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña), also the Centre for Consumer Protection (Centro para la Defensa del Consumidor, CDC), they have sought support from international agencies so that our springs will not disappear completely.

Naturally, the issue of water also lends itself to the greed of transnationals. We have bottled water here, enormous transnationals and pure water does not exist in this country. The water in all parts of this country is heavily contaminated. The National University has done studies, UNES (Unidad Ecologica Salvadoreña) has done research, and our water contains faecal matter, contains parasites. I suggest that you investigate it, maybe you could follow this up with UNES. There is a study. Water quality in some parts of this country has caused kidney problems and some studies have indicated that this is precisely because of the quality of the water. Many water sources, where before water could be taken without problems, now the water is grossly contaminated, now it is not colourless, now it is not odourless, instead it has a greenish-blue colour, it has flavour and it is full of worms/maggots and faeces.

With the issue of mining in the world we know that this will cause further problems in the environment. It will poison us even more and right now there is a fight against mining, there is a specific movement against mining. In Cabañas, there have been deaths, there have been people ‘disappeared’, murders, because we are playing with money, very big money.

I believe that on the issue of water in El Salvador, we should point out the attempts at privatisation, water quality, and how natural disasters, the greed of big capital in construction, and the logging of trees have contributed to having water unfit for human consumption, and sometimes not even for washing in. For example, in the municipality of San Pedro Perulapán there is a place in which the children have many skin disorders (se llenan de muchas cosas en la piel) precisely because of the quality of the water. So here we have very serious problems with the threat of privatisation, how the quality is having an impact on health because of various diseases, how natural disasters have caused the closing-off of springs, and how the greed of big capital has contributed to the point where our climate is changing. The logging of trees has contributed to an increase in temperature, to climate change which sometimes people that are not experts on the subject fail to understand. And how some people have gone to prison in their fight to prevent such threats of privatisation. How the human rights of people fighting to defend their right to water are violated.

MM: Do you know about the case of Coca Cola in Nejapa, what is happening, has there been over-exploitation of water?

DV: There is overexploitation of water in Nejapa. Nejapa has a whole system set up to recycle water, to classify rubbish, there are landfills that are managed by an entity called MIDES. The information we have, but which has not yet been brought completely to the public light and is handled by secret voices, is that there is over exploitation of water and the non-proper management of solid waste.

MM: Regarding the current government, what is the position of this government with regards to the privatisation of water? Is it against it or under pressure from big capital to continue with privatisation in small parts? What do you think?

DV: Mauricio Funes’ government is a government of social inclusion. In his cabinet and in its autonomous institutions there are people from different parties, from different sectors, representatives from private business, there are ministers from the Left, there are people from the Right. We qualify as a very broad government, like the words say it, of social inclusion.

In his campaign, he made commitments that are slowly developing. One year of government is still very little time for actually seeing changes. There is a commitment from him for full respect for the political Constitution, and his main objective is to govern for the people most in need. In fact, in his first term, the most profitable thing that has come from Mauricio Funes’ government are the measures taken, for example, such that in the hospitals the people no longer have to pay, the people that used to buy their medicine now no longer have to buy it, they no longer pay for any service. So that is a measure that has naturally come to help the poor.

The other programme which he has implemented and that really benefits the vast majority is the measures taken by the Ministry of Education. The government now buys childrens’ uniforms and their shoes. There is food in the morning for the children who sometimes go to school without having eaten anything. These were the first measures he took.

There is a commitment against corruption, in fact already there have been legal actions taken against some representatives of the previous administration that had embezzled funds. There is one authority for government ethics, there are actions that I mentioned a moment ago, where already there are people who have been sued, to make sure that people answer for any embezzlement and abuse of administrative responsibility.

There is a commitment from him to deepen democracy through the promotion of measures which bring greater transparency and the modernisation of the electoral system. There is also another concept from the departmental governor, now he is not the governor but he was in the time of ARENA, who was one activist more. Today the governors have a prominent role in assisting with natural disasters for example. There is one authority which right now is doing a great job, the institution that coordinates with SNET to take preventative measures for natural disasters, called the General Directorate of Civil Protection, Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (Dirección General de Protección Civil, Prevención y Mitigación de Desastres), a body which is working really hard to prevent natural disasters.

Diplomatic relations with some countries have been opened, for example with Cuba, of course, now they are going to sign the agreement with Cuba to increase and strengthen programmes such as Operation Miracle (provides free eye surgery to those in need) which was to do with El Salvador sending contingents of people with cataract problems to be operated on in Cuba.

There is an effort by him for the integration of Central American.

MM: Does El Salvador have a Petrocaribe treaty with Venezuela?

DV: No, in the relationship with Venezuela, Mauricio Funes has been very cautious, very slow, he really has not wanted to resume a relationship with ALBA-oil.

MM: Maybe because of the problems in Honduras. Because the relationship with Hugo Chávez was an excuse for the rightists, for the coup?

DV: We can understand, we do not like being distanced from Venezuela, because we truly believe that Venezuela is a country with which to further strengthen relations and exchange would be very helpful for the Salvadoran population. However, the president is who he is, and we respect that. He has adopted a very cautious policy with the Chavez government, but we understand that the Executive heads foreign affairs and we respect that. But we are making progress, I am rescuing his efforts towards the integration of Central America, for reviving the Central American common market. It is important, because it would strengthen the textile industry, it would benefit the small businesses, medium-sized businesses and as a result facilitate other types of migratory relations. For example, it could strengthen and deepen ties with regards to citizen security, which is one of the biggest debts of the Mauricio Funes government, but that is not a problem caused by this government, it is inherited, although that does not justify the high statistics. El Salvador is one of the most violent countries of these times, but this is due to various factors, even if it has been inherited. Because for example, El Salvador lives on remittances, but what impact do remittances have? Yes, it brings millions of dollars, but it also causes the disintegration of families, because there is a father or mother living abroad, and here the children are living with the grandfather or grandmother, with the uncle, the aunt, the cousin, a friend. Therefore there is no paternal or maternal guidance, there is no guide for strengthening and shaping the character and the conduct of young people. This creates problems of identity, causes loneliness, there is not any guidance for the young people, there is no motivation to study, there is no motivation to succeed. Or be it that the remittances bring wealth by which the country lives, but the other side of the coin is family disintegration.

But that also creates another problem, a subculture, a transculture, because the young that are born in the United States adopt behaviours and absorb much of the U.S. culture. By bringing that culture here, and when I speak of culture I mean the music, the language, all those features that make up a culture, and when they come from a developed country like the United States, and are implanted in a developing country like this, that causes a collision and generates an emotional outburst and very dangerous attitudes. So, the phenomenon of violence here is caused mostly by gangs, but we cannot blame only the problem of gang violence, it is organised crime and we still have remnants from the war. There are many weapons in the hands of the population.

MM: Are there many facilities for getting hold of weapons in comparison with other Central American countries?

DV: Yes, although there are some measures to make sure that a weapon is not sold to anyone who does not meet the requirements, it needs to be regulated more, it is a very old law. Currently the sale of legal weapons occurs under a very old law which needs to be modernised and reformed so that there is greater control. What the government was promoting before was not to do with the possession of weapons, but the use. You can have a weapon in your house to defend yourself but what the Executive was promoting was a greater regulation of its use. We think that the law governing the sale and purchase of weapons in this country should be modernised and updated. If you compare it with the United States, this country has a law a little more open, there you can buy weapons of a different calibre. But, it is the problem of society, a society in crisis, a sick society, which only recently emerged from civil war and we entered a postwar period, with remnants of the people who ran away, of the social integration of all the people who rose up with weapons, the long-term effects continue, but also transculturización (transculturation?) as a result of the disintegration of families, intra-family violence.

MM: What is your view on the working conditions in the maquilas? Has this government managed to improve the conditions? Do you know of labour abuses in the maquilas?

DV: That is a debt that still exists – a law is currently being debated – because there is a claim in the maquilas for increasing the hours which people work in the maquilas. Already there is resistance to raising the issue, there are organisations that are already touching the subject, but then enters the part of the private business which has had a very prominent role in this government in the sense of coming out before the media and questioning any action that they believe threatens their interests. In this sense it is a fight which has hardly begun, although it is something that has been seen for years, the abuses, but on this issue we have made very little progress. I think it is a duty of the current government, it is something that will be addressed.


Brian Rude

Interviewee: Brian Rude
Interviewer: Martin Mowforth
Location: San Salvador, El Salvador
Date: 7th February 2014
Theme: An informal interview about drugs, gangs and crime in Central America
Keywords: TBC



Martin Mowforth (MM): I’ll just give an introduction; it is recording now. Brian, this is an interview for a website which is associated with a book. The book is called ‘Violence of Development’ and the website has the same title – the website will be live and the book published during March 2014. The reason there’s a website with it was that I wrote well over 200,000 words for this book, but in order to get it published, I had to bring it down into 100,000 words. So all the extra material is being absorbed into the website, but I’m hoping as well that just as absorbing old material, I’m hoping to keep the website active and updated.

I should have also explained that the subtitle of the book and website, is ‘Resource Depletion, Environmental Crises and Human Rights Abuses in Central America’. It’s based very much in Central America, and one of the 10 major chapters refers to the violence of Central American society, experienced by Central American societies, and in that I deal with the problem of drugs and gangs, discuss various policies, such as ‘La Mano Dura’ and ‘Super Mano Dura’, and so on. I look at the work of a number of human rights workers around the region – I’m thinking particularly of people like Iduvina Hernández in Guatemala, Bertha Oliva in Honduras, and various other organisations which are human rights protectors or defenders. So it’s in that context of that particular chapter, in which I want to interview you, or get a few words from you, about your thoughts and opinions on various policies associated with those policies, but also with the problems of drugs and gangs and so on. So first of all, I wonder if you could tell us who you are, how come you’re down here, how long you’ve been down here, and about the work that you do at the moment and have been doing for some years now.

Brian Rude (BR): Okay, well I’m Brian Rude; I am here in El Salvador.

[Change onto second recording]

BR: I’ve been here [El Salvador] for 25 years, I came as a pastor from the Lutheran church in Canada, I am still a Lutheran pastor representing not the national church, but the Alberta and the territories senate, one of five regions of national Lutheran church in Canada. For the first five years I was working directly with the Lutheran church in El Salvador, with Bishop Medardo Gómez. Since 1994, I have been a bit more independent and working primarily in prisons. We started as an HIV/AIDS awareness accompaniment advocacy group, at a time when that wasn’t happening, there wasn’t much available in that area, through ‘FundaSida’ and [0:52 require verification] AIDS team. Together, we launched a programme in prisons, starting at the end of 1994 and then in 1995 with a pilot project in ‘Mariona’ prison and ‘Ilopango’ prison, the main male and female prisons, and then from there have expanded around the country. So I’m still in prisons, although the focus, well it includes HIV/AIDS, but with the UN on for aids and malaria and polio is it? I don’t know. But anyway, a lot of money was available and a lot of people were interested in working in that area. So we shifted a bit to focus on violence reduction, always with a mental health perspective, whether it’s HIV/AIDS or violence, working with groups of inmates primarily, but also prison personnel, 20 to 30, sometimes 40 individuals in a group, facilitating self expression. So we have weekly sessions of two or three hours, and encourage them to explore their own experiences and communicate those with others in the group, through dialogue, tutorials, one-on-ones, or sometimes they write up their experiences, draw their experiences, or even act out their experiences, in pairs, or groups of three, four and five, or the whole group – it’s a very dynamic, interactive kind of methodologies we use to encourage them to tell their stories, which is a surprise to them, as nobody has been interested in their stories ever! So this is a new experience for them and they’re very eloquent and very artistic, very gifted, in terms of drawing and acting, and they have a lot to say; they have a lot of life in them.

MM: It presumably helps then quite a lot to express them?

BR: Yes – very much so, they’re very enthusiastic. They are there voluntarily for the most part, and always ask for longer sessions and more sessions, and modules are usually about two months on any theme, whether its masculinity or sexuality or addictions, or whatever, and they always want to extend those. Then we train some of them as co-facilitators so they can repeat the experience with other groups, or in other prisons in fact, as they move around from prison to prison and we meet up with them in other prisons, we’ve tried to cover most of the prisons in the country on a rotational basis, so a couple of years in each prison and move on, and then we’ll come back. Over the years, a lot of our focus has been on gang prisons, the last couple of years, three years, since the gang truce went on we’ve focused on the non-gang population or the non-main gangs, and some of the smaller gangs and former gang members are in these prisons, so we have contact with gang members still. But yeah, they’re so easy to work with; it’s very encouraging to be part of their world.

MM: Can I just ask you about, again, it’ll be opinion based – don’t worry, you can say exactly what you want – about the truce as you’ve just mentioned it, the truce between the two majors gangs, whether its holding and I would imagine you would be well placed to gauge whether it is holding or not, and whether it will hold, and whether the current propaganda in the newspapers against the truce is valid or not. So just your opinion on that, and the truce and all aspects of it.

BR: Well the truce, well March 9th actually, was just during election weekend two years ago actually, the municipal elections and legislative actions, when the truce surprised us all basically, and the murder rate dropped from 14 to five or six a day over election weekend, and we thought maybe that they were just so busy voting that they forgot to keep up the murder rate! That helped for days and days, and I think it was El Vado [verify 5:13] with some explanation that was denied by some, and acknowledged by others, and still today we’re not quite sure which version is correct and who’s behind it, and who’s supporting it, or whether it’s best for the country, or to our detriment, and so that’s being debated. That was part of the campaign for this election. From what I understand, I haven’t worked quite as directly with the gang members over the last couple of years, from what I understand they’re behind it still, they back it, and they make sure it’s in place. For them, it’s a truce between two rival gangs, major rival gangs, and they’ve made some promises to the population, for example to not recruit students in school spaces, so the population should be more at peace. From what I hear generally, is that extortion perhaps hasn’t been reduced in the way the population might have expected, so people still feel threatened by that, especially those in small business, medium business perhaps, large business I don’t think is affected by this, but that’s their survival, they say they need that to survive and I can understand that in a sense, in that Canada it’s the government that collects taxes from business and distributes that as the population needs it for education and job creation and so on, that doesn’t happen here. The illegal tax rates are very low, I understand in comparison to Latin American countries.

[Change onto third recording]

BR: Tax evasion is huge. I understand from [unverifiable 0:06] for example, that tax evasion is about 30 times more than the total extortion rate, and the government says, and the candidates claim that the government can never negotiate with criminals, but in fact they are because they negotiate tax rates, and working in prisons I’ve never seen a tax evader, evidently they have a different set of laws and standards. So the youth criminal element is worrisome, it’s not healthy for the country, but that’s their way of survival and the impunity. I mean they don’t enjoy the impunity that the business sector enjoys or even the military enjoys. I mean the military is protected from international occurence for what was done 20 to 30 years ago during the war, so impunity is alive and well for certain sectors, but not for the youth. The campaign stated that 50,000 gang members had been arrested and in prison, so you know, out of a total of 60,000 I think is the estimate, it’s hard to know how many there are.

MM: That’s a very high prison population for a relatively small country.

BR: Yes. There are I think 27 to 28,000 prison inmates in the main system, and the space is built for 8,000, and staff are 8,000 I mean there’s psychologists, health personnel, everybody attending to inmates would be able to attend adequately to 8,000, not 28,000 and 10,000 are gang members I understand, from both major gangs.

MM: Presumably a proportion of those – I don’t know whether it will be high – but presumably they would be in simply for having tattoos and without any other charge, is that right?

BR: Yes, illegal association is a justification for arrest and imprisonment, and so a lot are in for that, and that can be interpreted very vaguely. I mean, a group together could be charged with that, and in 2010 the gang prescription law was put into place, which makes it illegal to be a gang member in fact, and doubly illegal to be a leader of a gang, or to work with leaders and promote leadership, which is sort of what we were doing with gangs in prisons, and promoting healthy types of leadership, whilst that could be interpreted as criminal activity! And we didn’t want to jeopardise them. We could see one another and around that leaders had been sent to maximum security prisons such as Cojutepeque, which no-one wants to see happen, along with gangs or ourselves so we backed off of that. What the gang truce did enable was media contact – I had sensed a great change in the media approach to gangs, or inmates generally. So suddenly, they shifted from demonising all gang members and youth generally to actually interviewing them and documenting their lives, and that happened for a year until May 29th there was this interview that I guess went over the top, and the two main gang leaders were interviewed and documented in a church, [verify 3:41] Rialto Church, and there’s some question about who had allowed that to happen and what kind of security there was. So within the next couple of days, all of the prison authorities had been removed and replaced and the new ones blocked media from prison access. So what the gang members had experienced, well inmates generally because they joined in the evolving peace process the non-gang members as well, so became a change for prison life generally. The phrase that I heard frequently from them was they had been taken into account (tomar en cuenta), which is a new experience for them. For over a year from the March 9th truce until them joining in prison by prison over April and May 2012 and up until May 2013, and June with these changes in policies then they were no longer taken into account, and they were restricted from communicating with the general public and among themselves also. So that could be a factor in not being able to control their own [verify 4:52] Cupca’s or members, or neighbourhood groups losing control of the truce to some extent. I mean for the last month we’ve been told every day that the truce has fizzled and the murder rate has increased dramatically; but official statistics I think that it might have climbed up to 8 [deaths per day] perhaps, which is still significantly lower than 14 – it’s not healthy, but it’s not like it was. But in the general population in many places it still feels – it wasn’t increased to include municipalities also, which were called, well at one point sanctuaries which was a kind of misnomer because it wasn’t a place where they could escape to avoid arrest, but they were named municipalities pre-violence. So the mayors, the churches, the gangs, different elements within the community would come together and negotiate how to establish and ensure a municipality without violence. So that happened I think officially in 11 with projections to increase.

MM: What in 2011?

BR: Well no, in 11 municipalities in 2013. So the idea is to expand this to many municipalities.

MM: In reference to a question, another policy, when Funes first came into power there, or relatively soon afterwards, there was an introduction of community policing – I don’t know how widespread it was and how intense it was, but there was a policy about community policing which was different from the kind of policing which had taken place before that, but I think this came pretty much to a halt – I maybe wrong on this – two years later or something like that? When the director of police was changed it was really very much under the pressure of the US Embassy as I remember. Now has community policing, first of all started and has it come to an end? As far as you know.

BR: I understand that it is quite successful in Nicaragua, that’s often explained as the reason for much lower rate of violence and delinquency and crime in Nicaragua. I’m not sure that it really ever grabbed hold here; there was certainly a change with [Manuel] Melgar was removed as minister of justice, we think maybe from pressure from the US.

MM: That’s what I was thinking of. Sorry, I got that wrong, it wasn’t the Director of Police was it, it was –

BR: The Minister of Justice, Manuel Melgar. So yeah, there was some change in policy I suppose with him with the old [verify 7.53] … came in and maybe he did, maybe he didn’t have some role in promoting the peace process or the truce and the peace process which evolved; he had been head of the military before that, which was responsible for the security in the prisons and inspection of visitors and so on, which was a very unpopular mode of operating within the prisons. There was major reaction against the way the military were inspecting visitors, especially female visitors, yeah there was major discontent. So when the truce happened I mean eventually, the military were removed from that role, which was a major relief for the prisoners and their visitors. So Munguia Payes allowed for the facilitators and Señor Fabio Colindres, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Chaplain of the military, and Raúl Mijango a former MP [Minister of Parliament] of the legislative assembly and author, he is an [verify 9:00] … commander also, so the two of them can have facilitated this truce. And the displacing we’ve had over the years works with a network of organisations in prisons, coming from, you know, different experiences and angles working in prisons, well this network was kind of displaced and these two became the two figures of participation and consultation worked as [verify 9:28] inspirados we thought they might have been but they seemed to have contact with the right people in the right places and so –

MM: This was a reprioritisation of La Mano Dura policy.

BR: Yeah. Although the prescription law is still in place in fact, it was put in place before this in 2010, and apparently it’s never been enacted or used in any individual case, but it’s still there. I mean if certain judges were to interpret it in a certain way perhaps everybody involved in this truce and peace process should be in jail too, because we’ve all been enabling gang communication and so on, and dialogue, and so on.

MM: Do you see a future with this truce? Is it likely to last after the next elections, or the second round of elections on March 2nd regardless of who’s in?

BR: Well, no I think it, well judging by the campaigning, which can’t always say well, which will follow beyond the election, but the FMLN is committed to further dialogue, which was a swear word not so long ago and nobody could admit to dialogue versus the Quijaneros declared war on the gangs, and he’s promised the population the right to live without gangs. But I’m not sure where he supposes these gangs have come from because they’re part of the population with younger brothers, and even sisters, are eager to follow in their footsteps, and in their socialisation process, so eliminate gangs would involve a lot more than just putting those 60,000 in jail. I mean there’s no space for them anyway, but I’m not sure what. So the policy could be quite different depending on which party were to win on March 9th.

MM: Is that the estimated gang population, 60,000?

BR: 60,000 is the figure that’s batted around, so I don’t know on what basis really, but the claim is during the campaign that 57,000 have been arrested, so I don’t know if there was 57,000 different individuals or if those certain individuals have been rearrested numerous times, I don’t know exactly how those figures are interpreted. I think a lot of the future of the gang truce depends on financing opportunities.

MM: That presumably comes from the government?

BR: Well, they would have to be channelled through government. Some small business people are setting up workshops and so on, and then training and hiring gang members, so that’s a good start but it means it’s much larger than that. The European Union I understand has been offering money to promote this, but I don’t know if any of that money has been received or implemented – somebody might have it in banks, so we never know what happens to foreign assistance of it, but I think that would be an important part of it and fiscal reform I think would be an important part, like you mentioned the taxes would have to be collected from business and used for the population, which would be a major bonus, to enable all youth to have opportunities and education and jobs.

MM: Is it the lack of opportunities which is really one the sources of gang membership, isn’t it?

BR: Right – so survival is up to them, they have to look out for themselves and they’ve developed their own society, their own creative – or not so creative – ways, destructive ways of doing that and ensuring that, not only for the 60,000, that would be their families, so we could be talking about half a million people affected or supported by extortion.

MM: Okay, well many thanks for that. Would you like to say anything more on the topic of gangs? One thing I haven’t mentioned or asked about is the problem of drugs, and is that really, does it overlap closely with membership of gangs very much associated with drug dealing in El Salvador? It’s supposed to be in Honduras and Mexico, and would you say they are closely associated in El Salvador as well?

BR: It’s hard to say. It’s often assumed in the media that it is the case, or some politicians think that’s the case. There’s been a surprisingly low number of arrests or drugs found, I mean it’s one element in some arrests but prior to the truce, it was sort of common understanding that La Zeta the drugs cartels of Mexico and through Guatemala and Honduras were trying to control the gangs, and if that were the case I mean it was surprising to me that there was enough autonomy within El Salvador to declare a truce and enact the truce overnight. With influence from Los Angeles or Mexico or Guatemala, it just seemed to be a more national phenomenon. So I’m thinking that maybe the drugs aren’t as big a part of the picture as sometimes we’re led to believe, though I have no way of measuring that. In terms of drug usage I understand that the gangs are quite strict in term of controlling, well alcohol use, drug use and consumption around their own members, so they can be very firm and disciplinarian among their own members. So really I can’t say anything for sure.

MM: Okay, never mind. Would you like to add to any other comments?

BR: Well from my experience of working in prisons, with inmates generally and gang members particularly, I find that if you treat them as human beings, they respond as human beings every bit as warmly, as affectionately and as respectfully as anyone you could expect. I mean I’ve worked in churches all my life and I don’t hesitate to say that they’re as human as church people, so –

MM: If you brutalise people they will turn out to be brutal.

BR: Totally – if you demonise them then they will respond in that fashion, so if they’re taken into account, then they can persue positive ways in society, and so we’ve had nothing but 19 years of positive experiences from working with them. I guess I’m, you know, as a international working here, I’m not subject to having my business distorted, or my family threatened or my kids, you know, pressured into gang membership at the schools, so I’m a bit sheltered I suppose, but I’m not too naive!

MM: Saying you’re sheltered by working with gang members in prisons is very paradoxical somehow. Well anyway, thank you very much indeed. That’s been really helpful for me, in trying to build the website, and the book of course, in getting words, receiving words of people on the ground who are involved in whatever it is I happen to be asking about, whether its agriculture, power generation or prison service and so on. So it’s really useful just for your information, in 2009 and 2010 I was over on both years for 4 months conducting a whole load of interviews, and we must have about 70 or 80 interviews altogether, and although in the book I’ve been able to pick out a few words here, a few words there, and a quote on the odd occasion, all of those interviews, in both Spanish and English, will appear in full on the website – so this will appear in full on the website, so thank-you very much indeed.

BR: Well thank-you Martin for doing this and to your audience to, for the interest and support.

MM: Thanks a lot Brian that’s great.


Hector Garcia Berrios

Interviewee: Hector Garcia Berrios, lawyer and member of the National Roundtable Against Metal Mining
Interviewer: Martin Mowforth and Lucy Goodman
Location: San Salvador, El Salvador
Date: 22nd and 23rd July September 2010
Theme: TBC
Keywords: TBC
Notes: Translations of two interviews. Interview A was carried out at a demonstration outside the Canadian Embassy, San Salvador. Interview B in San Salvador, 23 July 2010.


A)  Demonstration outside the Canadian Embassy, San Salvador, 22 July 2010

Hector Garcia Berrios (HB): Right now we are protesting here outside the embassy and we want to deliver a letter asking the ambassador that she uses her good offices and withdraws companies of Canadian origin from our country and that she does not sign the free trade treaty with Canada because this opens up a legal space for them to sue. That’s what we’re trying to achieve this afternoon.

… a community of Cabañas. We’ve got up to the … but we met with security forces of the National Civil Police (PNC) and private security which protects the embassy. We’ve been there trying to deliver it. It’s been difficult. Even a PNC official offered himself as an intermediary and to take the letter. Seeing that we couldn’t get in on either side of the building to get to the embassy, we decided, with the people who are here below, to provide the letter to him. All the embassy did was to put their stamp on it and the one who went in was the chief of security to deliver the document to the PNC who were mediating. They didn’t receive us. If only we might do the same when they arrive with their machinery – not to receive them when they arrive in our community and environment. I think we’re going to leave here in a moment. They’ve just told us that we will be informed that the letter was delivered. The only thing that the embassy did was to put its stamp on it, and they didn’t receive us, despite which … But what we did was make sure it got there through a PNC intermediary. They say that they will communicate with … and when they are going to receive us. Many thanks.

They leave us hanging here. Our objective is to deliver it and to make a presence and at the international level today there are activities at other Canadian embassies. People from different countries are demanding that the ambassadors use the good offices of their government to withdraw these Canadian companies which are doing so much damage in Latin America and in my country. Many thanks.

There’s a US person who’s doing a doctorate in Social Sciences and is nearly finished. He’s writing something on the resistance movement in Central America. He brought me a page to see if I would approve it. I told him that in our culture you don’t agree to talk with someone because you have a written commitment, rather from whom it comes. One thing you tell me – I know Leslie, and I know Alma and Tirso – they’re friends of mine, and they’re friends of yours, so we can talk before the document.

Martin Mowforth (MM): It’s absolutely necessary to know who you’re talking with. I understand.

HB: I want to ask you something. Is it possible to have access to what you’re writing in your analysis of Central America? Do you have it in Spanish or just in English?

MM: Most of it is in English. I’ve got documents not written by me that are in Spanish, but I could send you some documents that I have written in English. Can you read English?

HB: We can get them translated.


B)  In San Salvador, 23 July 2010

Martin Mowforth (MM): Let’s begin with yesterday’s protest. Can you tell me the major points, the contents of the letter that you were trying to deliver to the Canadian embassy?

Hector Garcia Berrios (HB): Yesterday the Resistence was celebrating across Latin America the Day Against Open-Cast Mining. So we thought it was opportune, since across Latin America there were different actions at Canadian Embassies, that likewise we would get mobilised and present a letter to the ambassador asking that she uses the good offices of her government to withdraw from our country those companies of Canadian origin which are dedicated to mineral exploitation. So that is one of the objectives. The other was to ask her to intervene with her government to stop them signing the free trade treaty with Canada, since it creates a space for the different mining companies operating in the country to make claims against us if we do not grant them mining concessions here. So it violates the principles of sovereignty and self-determination of our native peoples. In that sense, we were looking for the ambassador, as you realise, but they didn’t let us enter, they kept it closed and placed a security detachment there.

The objective was this, to link together the different actions which were taking place at the Canadian Embassies. The Canadian ambassador did not want to receive us; in fact she takes a very hostile attitude towards us. Amongst us there were people who have wanted to go to Canada to talk on the issue and how it’s affecting us, and all of us in Latin America who are denied visas to travel to Canada. As if they have a register of all of us. A little while ago various colleagues from the National Roundtable Against Metal Mining, which is composed of several social organisations, amongst them ours which is called the Francisco Sánchez Unified Movement … 32, CEICOM (Research Centre on Investment and Commerce) as well, where David (Pereira) is; and all the people who came from Cabañas to apply for a visa for Canada – and none of them were granted. In the United States one of our colleagues managed to get one for three days. Maybe Canada has a more antagonistic attitude towards us, despite which they are getting very strong opposition in our country and we know that the ambassador has lobbied with high officials such as ministers and the president, to get approval for the authorisation of mining exploitation. So yesterday we also requested that she intercede so that they withdraw from here.

MM: What´s the current situation in the courts in the case of Pacific Rim against the government of El Salvador?

HB: When the current President Mauricio Funes publicly declared that he was not going to authorise any further concessions for mining exploitation, Pacific Rim changed its strategy. It took its claim to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID by its English initials), with its roots in the United States, for 77 million dollars plus legal costs, a total of 100 million dollars. Pacific Rim is a Canadian company. They weren’t able to make a claim against us because we weren’t contracted to them by a free trade treaty. So what they did is look for US financiers who opened a small office; they allied themselves with them and said: “Good, as the United States has a free trade treaty with El Salvador, we can make a claim against them because we have US associates. So they claimed against us, the tribunal was already set up and was made up of three referees and the ICSID: one from the World Bank, one from the company and one from the state of El Salvador. That was two to one, so that´s already a difference. But more than that, they have presented their grievance (that the state of El Salvador is supposedly doing by not granting them concessions) for the profits that they were supposedly going to make in return for their investments.

Despite what they’ve done, we believe that there are enough differences in their stances, because one thing according to Salvadoran law is that you can start the process of exploration, but that doesn’t necessarily oblige the state of El Salvador to grant a license for exploitation. In international law there exists the precautionary principle that can be used when the supposed development may cause damage to the ecosystem. So at the moment they are presenting the cases, and the state of El Salvador is making its own.

As a social movement we have brought over specialists to talk about the case, to raise awareness and to get more information, but also we are making ourselves available to the government of El Salvador , so that if they wish we also have various lawyers and we could collaborate with them.

MM: Are you expecting the verdict in September?

HB: No, it opens another stage. What happens is that the process of arbitration is a long process, it can last a year, a year and a half – it goes through various stages. They get to know the case, and then they pass judgement.

MM: Another thing very political and sad is the case of the assassinations which have happened during this year in Cabañas. I think there were three.

HB: There were five assassinations from June 2009 to December the same year.

MM: One of the criticisms of Pacific Rim is that they haven’t put out any statement about these assassinations. Have they said nothing about the assassinations?

HB: No. A little while ago the Canadian Senate sent out a call for Thomas Shrake, president of Pacific Rim, because Professor Steiner, who came here like you researching, he went to the Canadian Congress and presented a report on the damage which the company is doing. They sent out a call to the President of Pacific Rim and he came down and denied any link to the homicides and the acts of violence and held ADES responsible for these kinds of events. He [Shrake] said that officials of Pacific Rim had been trained to show a profile like that of Mahatma Ghandi and that it’s us who have generated the violence against the company, damaging and holding up the development of the country. He used very aggressive language in his speech, very violent; he directly accused one of the NGOs, ADES (Association for Economic and Social Development, Santa Marta), which has opposed the mining project and which has prepared and informed the people about it. ADES is one organisation which has worked for environmental protection and the unconditional respect for human rights.

I’ve been one of the lawyers who have been investigating the assassinations, not only that but also the profile and nature of how the environmentalists were assassinated. The department of Cabañas, where Pacific Rim works, was considered until 2008 the most peaceful of the Salvadoran departments. El Salvador has 14 departments. Morazán is the most peaceful department, and with fewest deaths, followed by Cabañas, in fact it only had 188 police and few or minimal resources to cover the whole department.

When Pacific Rim was publicly notified that they weren’t going to get the license for gold exploration, it changed its strategy from one of buying the good will of politicians, mayors, deputies, professors, local curates, to one of international claims against the state, but it ratcheted up the pressure against the social movement. A little while ago I was in Mexico with a group of scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), studying the mining process. I’ve had the opportunity to be in various countries studying this and you get to realise that there now exists a new modus operandi amongst the companies. They said delegates from Canada …. that for example there exist companies in Canada in which they create people who work in favour of mining to be able to …. First, they do a socio-anthropological study of where they are going to set up their installation, but more than that they have a designed structure for which they begin to contract, after the anthropological study, people from the community who are less scrupulous, like their employees, and they buy the will of people like mayors, deputies, businessmen, curates, pastors, professors – as has happened here – so that they manage to get into the community. And that is what they are doing here: they began to buy all the people. Why? Because they are damaging institutions – for instance, they pay for all the fiestas, the drinks are free, they finance the cars for the mayors, they pay for the police service’s end-of-year parties. So when they begin to generate pressure, our institutions begin to feel the pressure and they begin to criminalise social protest. They begin to persecute young people who are against them and we begin to see harassment.

In fact, there is no end of cases that I have. The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) has given me precautionary measures – they asked the Salvadoran state to guarantee my life because of the assault on my house. After that happened to me, they assassinated Marcelo. Later the level of violence began to rise.

At the moment, the Attorney General says that all the homicides which have been committed against environmentalists are the result of common delinquency – that’s the hypothesis they hold. Why do I not accept that? I don’t accept it because I’ve studied them case by case, and the hypothesis of the Attorney General of the Republic is deficient and contradictory.

In the specific case of Marcelo Rivera, there are contradictions in the way and the time that Marcelo was assassinated. The attorney told me, “Look, Marcelo was assassinated with some blows from a hammer, they beat him up, they hit him on the neck, they emptied a pistol into him, and they threw him away. Because of his sexual preference, he was going out with some young people, and then they got the idea to kill him, and so they killed him.” In our investigation we have verified that effectively Marcelo has two linear wounds, one of 10 cm and one of 7 cm and 1 cm wide. In the forensic medicine report it appears that these wounds were made post mortem, after death, or maybe when we were taking him out [of the well], because the fire brigade didn’t want to take him out, as they did with a stick. It’s that that caused these wounds, and it’s a lie that it was done with a hammer as the Attorney General said. It’s not a bruised blow. If it had been with an armament, the pressure would bruise and it would create a hole. So there is one contradiction.

Another is that they say that he died on the same day. When we took his body out – because we were the ones who took it out – he had been dead for a little more than 72 hours. Marcelo disappeared on the 18th [June 2009] and we took it out on the 30th which means that he spent around 11 days alive. So you begin to see the contradictions, not in how, but in depth. All the witnesses are going to attend an audience at the special court on Wednesday. The Attorney General’s hypothesis is based on a witness’s opinion because he wasn’t there at the time of death, only that he saw that Marcelo was there and that there were those youths there. So, with that they resolved it all. But people told us when we were investigating, because the police didn’t do any investigation, that they watched when they tied up the place and that when we got there, they [the police] moved off to the mountains or the woods or the canals, and when we got to the other place they moved again. We had witnesses who told us how much was paid for his assassination and the weapons which they used. We have all that information and we’ve given it to the police and the Attorney General’s office and they haven’t looked into any part of what we’ve given them. There are testimonies from someone who was with the people who assassinated Marcelo Rivera which tell of how they tortured him, how they pulled out the nails of his hands and of how he was sexually abused. He had a nylon tied here, on the finger, and they passed it through his mouth, his neck, they broke his windpipe and threw him down the well. When I say to the attorney how is it possible that you tell me that he wasn’t tortured and that what we are saying is a lie, how is it that you have the hand? They tell me: what happened is that the gang members wanted to tie him up and that he was already so rigid that they couldn’t tie him up, and so they tied only one hand. But it seems contradictory to me that if they tied one hand, why didn’t they tie the other? Marcelo was strong, very strong and big, so they only managed to tie one hand because he must have fought like mad. He was very strong, I know, with a very strong character, he wouldn’t let things like that happen easily. But it all happened. We knew where they had gone to throw the evidence of the rope, the shoes, the knapsack, and where he was. We’ve given it all to the police and they didn’t even go to collect it, or rather they weren’t interested in making any in-depth investigation.

But before this for almost three months, Marcelo had been on the receiving end of a campaign by the mayor of San Isidro, José Ignacio Bautista, because of his sexual preference. From the town hall came news sheets saying that Marcelo was a homosexual and about his sexual preference, and these went around all the population. In the government office here, in ConCultura, I had access to some records which monitored Marcelo Rivera and myself up until 2007. He was the director of the Casa de la Cultura and had a thick file in which the mayor had tracked us for years in different political activities and through our writings, on headed notepaper he was sending reports of our activities.

When I told the intelligence chief of the PNC, Howard Coto, about this type of situation and about the proof of the monitoring and intentions with regard to Marcelo Rivera, he told me that as mayor and as police chief, they could do those things. How could he tell me that? Marcelo had nothing to do with the mayor who is one of the greatest promoters of Pacific Rim and Marcelo was one of the people who had represented the resistance, and institutionally Marcelo did not depend on the mayor. But, more than that, we managed to get the mayor to withdraw the taxes that he had imposed on the town. We closed down a landfill site which mayors of right and left, the nine municipalities of the department, along with those of San Vicente, had managed to reach an agreement on so that it would make a 500 meter straight line from the Río Titihuapa, which provides all our people with bathing and food, because people don’t have access to water, they only have it in pipes. Marcelo and another group of people managed to stop that.

Marcelo was a very charismatic person. He celebrated Mother’s Day; he celebrated Children’s Day; he always dressed well; he was the first to get a library in the town, there was nothing there before; he was the first to create a NGO called ASIC, he was its director and he ran it. Marcelo didn’t harbour bad feelings towards anyone; so he was well settled. With him, we began green journeys. … We are in a department of ideology and law, and it’s from there that we began to form a strategy to resist the company. Whoever decided to assassinate him knew what he was doing. I think they not only wanted to assassinate him but also to send a message about what was going to happen. But after it had happened to Marcelo, they detained a few gang members and said that they were responsible for the murder.

When we present all the details of the assassinations, nobody takes notice, nobody considers them. What happens is that also lately a campaign has started against all the young people at Radio Victoria who are fighting to denounce this. They approach them in their houses, they leave anonymous threats, they say they are going to assassinate them. There’s a priest, Luis Alberto Quintanilla, who is also in the resistance, and they tried to kidnap him, young people with M16 weapons. He threw himself into a ravine at night and managed to flee after an anti-mining event.

They began to threaten us, to make telephone calls saying they were going to kill us, but nobody paid any attention to it here. Up to now, the Attorney General’s office hasn’t given any response to the threats. Who assaulted me? To know who fired on my house, to know who took away all the information that I had, I don’t know – I’ve never received a response.

In August, working on Marcelo Rivera’s case and having been denounced, a person close to the rightwing ARENA party called me from the town and told me – he called Miguel Rivera, Marcelo’s brother, and called me and said, “I’m going to give you a piece of advice. Get out of the town because it’s been agreed that you or Miguel are going to be assassinated during the holidays.” He told us who had been at the meeting where the agreement was made that they would assassinate us. Talking with Miguel Rivera I said to him, “look, first what they want to do is to scare us, they want to put the fear into us.” Anyway, effectively at the beginning of the August holidays I came here on the 6th August because my wife and daughter are here. On the 7th August they tried to assassinate Ramiro Rivera. Oscar Menjívar, a promoter of the mining company, put a shotgun to his back. He’s still at liberty because in the hearing where he would have been jailed the victim couldn’t attend because he was assassinated a few months after the first attempt. The judge said there was no evidence and so he remains at liberty. That’s the way things are here. Everybody knows who killed him, everybody knows who fired the shot and who works for the company. So, he remains at liberty.

Subsequently, on the 20th December 2009, Ramiro was killed. He had two special police with him from the witness protection squad, but on arriving at his house in Trinidad he was ambushed with shotguns and heavy weapons and they shot him. The police failed to react.

MM: What happened with the police?

HB: They had to defend themselves and fled because the firepower that they had wasn’t a match for what had been mounted. But also it was known that there had been threats against all of us and they took no protective measures. They gave me no security and that’s because I put it to the director of police that they leave me to choose my own security. They told me no, … If I had moved to 17 police from the police district of San Isidro, how am I going to be able to trust that you can give security? So no, the OAS resolution (through the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights) says that my security has to be agreed, but they haven’t wanted to agree. You can verify that in the Chancellery, you can talk with the lawyer David Morales who deals with international matters and you can see that it is the case that the PCN [National Civil Police] won’t allow us to choose our own security.

MM: Have you received many threats?

HB: We’ve received various. There are people who give you a call like I told you. He said to me, “go away because the decision has been taken that they are going to kill you.” The PNC chief in San Isidro, the new chief after transfer, called and told me, “I want to talk with you.” I knew him because I was a member of the police … as a member of the FMLN I entered the police force, so I know many policemen. He said to me, “I want to talk with you. I’ve been meeting with the mayor and a town councillor. It surprised me that the mayor has said, “the problem here in the department was you, and that if they neutralised you the problems here would be resolved.” So when they said your name I was shocked,” he told me. “Effectively it was the mayor who was asking that they neutralise you.” So the same institutions which informed me have made the call for me to be neutralised. I don’t know what a neutrality is, or how they can neutralise me, by cutting out my tongue, or by nothing less than eliminating me.

On the 26th December they killed Dora [Sorto], fifty metres from a police post. She was the wife of Santos who is part of the resistance against the mining in Trinidad, where it’s on another range of hills. When you begin to check all this in an holistic way, you realise that we are all environmentalists fighting against the mining company. Today they tell you, no, it was that this family and that family were hating each other, they’ve had problems and they killed amongst the family.That’s what the police say in the case of Trinidad. But they don’t tell you that they are working for a company, which is Pacific Rim, and that they oppose it. And that someone said, give them the money and give them the arms so that they can kill each other.

But this hasn’t only happened here. In Guatemala, more than 45 environmentalists opposed to mining have been assassinated, three attempted assassinations of the Minister of the Environment; in Mexico, at the same time as they killed Marcelo here, they killed the Mexican resistance leader, Mariano Abarca Roblero – hitmen on a motorbike that were working for the company assassinated him – the company was Canadian; a little while ago they killed Bety Cariño in an ambush similar to the one in which they killed Ramiro. So, there is a modus operandi of Canadian companies to intimidate and to generate violence and terror, in order to achieve their objectives. [Difficult sentence to translate.]

I was with US embassy representatives here – he was called …???… and was a human rights representative. He told me, “prove to me that the company knows about it, because it could be that the company doesn’t know about it and that maybe it’s their employees, that the company is clean, and the company has the right to take strategic measures with its officials.” That’s the stance of the US embassy. I said to him, “the company is an abstract form, they are legal forms. What you have to investigate is who is behind these things, who has so much power, and who has interests in carrying out this type of project.”

Who do we have behind it? Fidel Chávez Mena, ex-Chancellor of the Republic, his son, the President of the Pacific Rim company. Who else do we have? The brother-in-law of the ex-Vice President of the Republic, Ana Vilma Escobar, who represents the Poma Group, a very powerful business group at the Central American level. Or maybe, who has interests in carrying out the mining activity? That’s what you’ve got to investigate. Why don’t you open the files? And get to who is paying them so much money.

I have information about a man called … – let me remember – he works for Jim McGovern the US Congressman. He’s been working and monitoring the cases of impunity in Latin America, especially in Central America. Well, he called me and made contact with me. He told me, “from the sub-director of intelligence of the state we have information that the company is making large disbursements of money and it does it through various roundabout ways, through subtlety and by underhand means. I gave all that information to a PNC intelligence chief and I made sure that it got to the state intelligence chief. The only thing that they confirmed is that effectively there was a very strong link between public officials and the company, but that’s how it remains; they won’t let us see what more has been investigated.”

I think that there’s more, because these are structures that can function, that can only function, in corrupt institutions and in an atmosphere of impunity. That’s what’s happening in this country. Jim McGovern came here to investigate the case of Marcelo Rivera and one of the things that he said is that this is a fireproof case to demonstrate that President Mauricio Funes is fighting against impunity. But until Wednesday when we have the hearing, regretably the Attorney General has investigated nothing, and he has brought a legally very weak hypothesis. So what is that going to allow? That impunity continues or that the material authors of these crimes remain free …? We are faced with this – they try to say that they were isolated elements and that it’s just common violence. How strange is that? We all live in Cabañas and we’re all against the mining and we are all threatened and they tell us that they are going to kill us.

There’s a resolution from the Human Rights Attorney in which it is required that they investigate seriously and in an holistic way the context in which all this violence is occurring. Why have they not done it? Who are they protecting? Who has Pacific Rim given money to in the country? I could tell you who it’s been financing, it’s given funds to powerful politicians for their electoral campaigns – we have the names of who it has been promoting. Politicians, deputies, and mayors working more as promoters of the company than anything else.

MM: One thing I want to expose in the book is the culture of impunity. It’s a huge problem in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, and in El Salvador too. One last question: we’ve recently heard from the mining companies, and specifically Pacific Rim, about the concept of green mining. Could you comment on the use of this idea by the companies?

HB: To me it’s offensive that they try to cheat the people. Green mining does not exist. It was something that they created here in this country, trying to deceive and to say that in Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia there was green mining, so why couldn’t they do it here? And the big idea is that they contaminate and that they extract a large part of the soil and sub-soil and then they put it back. That’s the whole hypothesis that they put forward. Green mining is a fallacy – there’s only one type of mining. The chemicals that they are going to use, like mercury, cyanide, lead, cadmium, are going to contaminate the surface, the sub-soil and the water. The conflict in this is that it is a lie that there exists development through these companies. These companies respond to international interests in a context of megaprojects, where they develop dams, mining, the infrastructure from the north, which are large projects that belong to the government of the United States, via the World Bank and the IMF. They pressure the governments of Latin America so that they become a part of globalisation and market expansion in order to guarantee their own interests of the USA, Canada, England. These companies come to take our strategic resources. From 100 per cent of their profits they leave only 1 per cent in the local area and 1 per cent for the country – it’s offensive.

So, such mining doesn’t exist – it’s a lie. They have tried to take our people by surprise. As of today, I don’t know of a mine that does not contaminate.

MM: In San José, the capital of Costa Rica, there are advertisements on the screens in the buses from the company which is trying to extract the gold of Crucitas. They have publicity campaigns to present themselves with a clean image, which is an advertisement of about one minute and which says ‘Green Mining for Costa Rica’, ‘Mining, helping the people of Costa Rica’. It says it many times. I haven’t seen a mine that doesn’t pollute anywhere in the world. It’s incredible that they can use the term ‘green mining’, around which they’ve designed this campaign.

I sent Leslie nine files from this chapter on mining, a little before she left the country. I could send you the same files, but they’re in English.

HB: I could add that El Salvador is the only country in Latin America which has stopped a mining exploitation project. There’s no other country which has stopped and which has managed to politically intervene to bring about such a stoppage. That’s worth treasuring. The transnationals cannot continue to dominate the market and to prevail over the people. The people must unite and leave aside their divisions and different languages. The time has arrived for us to look after our environment or we are all going to die.

I can’t monitor the whole world looking for the things that others are doing; we are the same people who have to look after our little bit for present and future generations.

I recognise that part of the most important thing that we have managed to do is to have an influence in strategic sectors which can then influence other sectors, like the church and potential presidential candidates, and through the process of discussion and education with the communities. Thanks to that we have been able to stop this type of project. We’ve had costs and losses of life, yes, we’ve had them, but we’ve also seen international solidarity. The fact that you are here is because at the international level we’ve managed to make waves and to raise consciousness a little about what the European and US transnationals come and do to these people. They’ve been coming here since long before the present problems, wanting to exploit the natural resources of these communities for their own ends. And that can’t be allowed; we must join our own forces together and begin to work together, and thus we’ll have an opportunity to continue living, and our future generations too.

MM: Many thanks for your time and your words. The preparation of a book like this takes a long time, but I’ll use your words, but I’ll send them to you first to check them with you. After each interview, I get a friend to transcribe them, and of course I only use a few words from each interview; but I do want to use the words of Central Americans instead of just the words of academics from the north, so that is the motive for carrying out these interviews. I hope the book will be ready in two years.


COMUS members

Interviewees: Estela Anzora (Presidenta de COMUS), Juan Rodríguez, Jaime Coutts, Chico Peña and Ernesto
Interviewers: Martin Mowforth and Lucy Goodman
Location: San Francisco Javier, Usulután, El Salvador
Date: 26 July 2010
Theme: Many aspects of development in Usulután and in El Salvador as a whole, with special emphasis on agriculture and forestry.
Keywords: TBC



Martin Mowforth (MM): First, I know that you have organic agricultural production programmes. Could you describe some of those programmes?

Ernesto (E): My name is Erni, del CID [International Cooperation for Development] and I’m a promoter of the coffee project. We’re working in Berlín, and also in Tecapán and San Francisco Javier and the north of San Agustín. There are fifteen groups which we organise, and they’ve been helped with a finca plan. In the finca plan they tell us how many years they have had their cafetal. The cafetals generally last from 70 to 80 years – that’s their useful life span. So in the plan they specify the activities which they are going to carry out and those that they’ve already completed.

In the organised groups we are working to produce organic leaf mulches and organic fertilisers. Also we’re trying to work out the best ways to re-activate a finca, putting together the saplings from old bushes with those from young bushes.

We’ve got 150 producers organised. We’ve begun work with them and they are pleased with it, so much so that they are no longer applying chemicals.

MM: Are there still lands here which are contaminated with chemical residues from previous production?

Jaime Coutts (JC): In Berlín for example, there are producers who …???… Obviously if you have an organic finca below [on lower ground] and a finca that uses chemicals above [on higher ground] there is the possibility of the transfer of chemical residues. In this case, we can use physical barriers and run-off channels for the water along with a buffer strip of land. Heavy chemicals like DDT leave you with land that can’t be used for years; whereas with lighter chemicals you can still use the land. But, as Ernest says, of the 150 producers, there are 50 certified with 124 manzanas of land, 43 hectares of coffee certified by the German company BCS.

MM: As for organic fertilisers / compost, the producers make their own compost or do you have a centre for the production of compost here so that you can distribute it?

JC: No. We used to do it like that before. Today we’ve reached a productivity level where it’s done in groups. We’re certified under the GTO quality certification. The community organises itself … in Socorro Bautista there are 17 compañeros who with the help of one compañero from elsewhere make their own mulches and their own composts on their fincas. In other cases, they buy products like B80 and other foliars (mulches) which are produced in the US and other countries and are imported.

MM: But you have a coffee processing plant. You could use the waste material for the production of compost?

JC: We are working towards that with COMUS’s project. For example, when we have 300 quintals of processed coffee in the plant, it gives approximately five wagonloads of pulp. If we buy two wagonloads of turkey or chicken manure, we can apply a process known as bocache. We can use this at the rate of between 1 and 3 litres per plant. So our aim is to create our own centre of collection and processing. So as far as your question goes, we are processing it here and the producer receives his … of bocache. Some of them have just taken the pulp and nothing else, but that’s costly.

MM: On another issue, does COMUS involve itself in the delivery of potable water or in collection and storage systems of water for irrigation?

Juan Rodríguez (JR): My name is Juan Rodriguez. Before talking on the issue of water, it’s important to relate something about the production of the same organic coffee project. This is to the north … of the micro hydrographic basins in the area of our coverage. There’s an activity aimed at improving the soils with a kind of filleting to allow the accumulation of organic material but also the capture of water.

In this framework I think it’s important to mention that in the last three years we have been developing a series of efforts with this aim in mind and we have been selecting the producers, with 60 manzanas of cafetales, managing a production yield of 400 libretas per manzana. This implies that for each libreta we would need more or less a barrel of water during our winter [dry season] for each row. That implies that each manzana would need around 60 barrels in the rainy season. 400 barrels for 60 manzanas is a good quantity of water which can be captured and consequently it supplies the water tables which supply the national population. In that sense, there is a sector which is ready to have water.

On the other hand, there are zones and communities which don’t have a service of potable water. These communities, and there are quite a few of them to the north where the water is captured, don’t have access to potable water. So there we’ve been working on the construction of systems for capturing rainwater. In some communities it is for consumption, as in the case of La Concha which is where the coffee project is – there they have built water storage tanks.

Two types of systems for capturing rainwater have been built: some are full projects collecting 600 barrels of water, whilst others are individual reservoirs which take about 80 barrels of water. These are for families in communities …

And this year we’ve been working on the theme of training for the use of the cisterns which run the community water projects. We’ve also been doing training in the financial aspects, which implies ensuring the economic sustainability of the community water systems, but also with a medium term vision of not only the amount of water collected but also how to make good use of it and what works to do to ensure the recharging of the water table so that it feeds the wells which supply some of the families.

MM: Have the water tables been contaminated?

JR: Yes, although it wasn’t really COMUS who did this exercise; rather, almost four years ago there was an organisation here in San Francisco Javier which carried out various analyses and found contamination through agrochemicals.

Chico Peña (CP): My name is Chico Peña. Just to give a little support to what my colleague was saying, COMUS doesn’t supply water. What COMUS does is to accompany the communities so that they can resolve some of the problems associated with water supply when they arise. Still in 2010 a good part of the people that COMUS deals with don’t have a water supply. So their consumption is from artisanal wells, a hole from which they can get water with pitchers or tins.

MM: Has COMUS been involved in the drilling of wells?

CP: These wells were more family wells. The families drill them, take out the water and thus supply the community. It was a form of community water supply.

With our accompaniment which COMUS develops with the communities in the process of our work, we manage some water projects. Now 90 per cent of the communities covered by COMUS already have their own projects of potable water supply, administered by the community, and now there are wells which are not artisanal but which are a more family based potable water supply. There are some communities which still have not managed this and it’s going to be difficult for them because they are generally high zones where it’s very difficult to get a potable water system to them.

It’s more in the accompaniment which COMUS develops that we improve the use of the water resources and the water table that we have. Here in the area covered by COMUS there are five or six water administrators with a network of four or five communities where they manage those water projects.

We are clear that in the Greater San Salvador area, for example, the big companies, like Coca Cola and all those that have bottling plants are already exhausting supplies. Right now with the famous AdA, with the Association Agreement with the people of Europe, we think that the water crisis is going to get worse because I imagine that it will bring some interests here and one of those interests could be water. So that means that the problem of water is going to get worse every day.

COMUS’s work, through its accompaniment, is to strengthen the water tables which we still have.

MM: In all this business about water, where is ANDA (the National Administration of Aquaducts and Sewers)?

CP: The situation is that centrally, here in the urban area, as we say as good Salvadorans, it’s being administered by ANDA, but that’s the only place where it’s administered by ANDA.

In 2001, I think, the idea of decentralisation of water management was being put forward in all these municipalities. So this was one of the municipalities which was going to be decentralised and where management was going to be passed over to the community. But the earthquakes happened and so it was all left as it had been and ANDA continued to administer the water systems in the urban areas.

The situation now is that the systems approved by, for example Japan which has supported lots of these projects that we are developing, the financial and political body comes along and says “the project is now the community’s, the community administers it and it is yours.” Well, this project couldn’t be given to ANDA. On the one hand, ANDA isn’t interested in community projects; and on the other hand, there is the same conditioning of the project so that it can be administered by the community. Here, throughout the whole zone, the administration is being given to the community.

JC: To support what Chico says, we need to revive the political juncture that existed in the year 2001. There was a multimillion dollar robbery scandal [The Perla effect – see the book] – some multimillionaire officials took loads of money via an ANDA project. So the agencies, like the Japanese agency, don’t want to finance people who are taking advantage of the system, and they demanded that, if there were new community projects or new expansions, ANDA should be left out of the management of the funds.

So you have to get approval for the plans to be administered by the people. It’s a very easy way of saying …???… our water and when the people don’t control it – because that’s the problem we have in …???… right now the people are so poor that they don’t have to pay for the water, so they use great quantities of it. But who subsidises this? …???… To some extent, …???… the cost of all these operations, because it’s not an appropriate way. So it’s a double-edged sword.

MM: Do you have any renewable energy programmes in the communities?

Estela Anzora (EA): We’ve been investigating the alternatives that we can use. But the one mentioned most is solar panels. Although they could be a real alternative, at the moment we think they are too expensive, for which reason we have not yet got into these.

MM: Depends on the price of the panels. In your area of influence in this zone, do you have any problems caused by metal mining?

JR: Directly, no, not at the moment, but indirectly we are threatened because we can foresee that if the mine in Cabañas opens up, we’ll run the risk of contamination of …???…

MM: Is that the problem of Pacific Rim?

JR: Yes.

MM: Do they have plans to come into your zone?

JR: No, not here.

MM: So there’s no gold in your zone?

JR: No. [Laughter]

 MM: One issue on which I’m sure you can talk a lot is that of deforestation and reforestation. I know that you’ve got reforestation programmes going. Can you describe them?

EA: COMUS has been working since 1992 and onwards to ensure that there is no massive deforestation in the zone where we work, but yes, it has happened in other zones. So we’ve been making an effort to implement various alternatives, such as the organic coffee programme. Also there are other actions like the fincas integrated with fruit trees. In that way we’ve managed to stop large-scale deforestation as it happens in other places. When people have their own land, however, we can’t control what they do despite the fact that there are by-laws. In this municipality, for example, there’s an environmental by-law, although sadly it’s one of the things that are not applied.

As COMUS has been working on this, it has an awareness of how to improve the environment, but it’s a major work and we have challenges.

CP: The situation we live in in this zone which is not a zone given particularly to agriculture, but the population during and after the war became dependent on agriculture, on maize and beans to live; and that’s the reason why there is deforestation in the zone. The campesino has a unique way of life with farming and one in which you can’t live by trees; so you have to fell the trees in order to sow the maize. And if we return to the indiscriminate use of chemicals after the 1990s in this zone, in order to increase production, then unfortunately we’ve had to make use of those chemicals. As an agricultural zone, we have continued to use chemicals for the maize.

Since a while ago, COMUS has been trying to increase awareness about the need to reduce the use of chemicals. But deforestation is a result of agriculture. COMUS’s programme is more in the higher zone which is more vulnerable to lava flows and to erosion. We’ve made great efforts to maintain the coffee project because it’s through maintaining this project that we can prevent deforestation in the high zone.

There are particular efforts, as Estela was saying, in the certified plots, demonstration plots with vegetable production, and it’s in these that we are promoting fruit trees.

JC: It’s worth mentioning, as the others were saying, but there’s also a more global idea. If we remember how things were here before – I mean in the 1950s – from San Francisco Javier and three corontos further down, that’s where the coffee fincas began. The coffee fincas reach up to Alegría, 25 corontos higher up. There was plenty of vegetation and at that time there was a lot of work. What happened with the havoc of the war and the bombings and the 500 pound bombs and the scorched earth technique? Well, more than 2,000 manzanas of coffee were recovered in this zone. Then the Peace Accords came along. The struggle then was how to make these lands sustainable for the communities that lived in the area covered by COMUS. From that came everything which Chico and Estela have said. Five years ago there was a classification of coffee where they tried to maintain a standard quality of coffee, but today with climate change it’s necessary to take …???… the coffee, as I said before, 300 or 400 meters, to move up to 600 meters. So the most basic coffee now begins between 600 and 800 meters. What’s below that? It’s the inferior coffee. So in economic terms you do the numbers, and with the crash in the coffee price, and with what you pay the big exporters for your cup of coffee – well, at times, it’s not viable. But the producer carries on producing. So the challenge for COMUS is how to deal with this and how to ensure that they don’t fell their trees and that they make their plots profitable and provide food for the family.

MM: I was going to ask about global warming. Have you experienced any effects here?

CP: For the last three years here we’ve been feeling the effects, but we haven’t given it our major attention and it’s only in the last year that we’ve begun a process of training about global warming and climate change. In October or November of 2009, there was a huge tropical storm, Aída, which hit one place in particular, Verapaz, and left it really …???… So, we began to realise that these are climate change effects which can affect just one area and deal it a major blow. And this year our winter has been a little unusual, if we can say that, because it began with the rainy season from the 30th April / 1st May for fifteen days of rain when we had a lot of rain. Since the 24th May, it hasn’t stopped. There almost hasn’t been a day or night when there has been a downpour. This month [July] is the month that for us is normally a dry month in this zone, but now there hasn’t been a dry month. This is how we are feeling the effects of climate change, and that has significance for the farming, and particularly in the case of the bean. Most years the campesino sows the beans in May. Now we’re seeing truckloads of beans being put away, which is when they should be taking them out. As for maize and its fertilisation, as the fertilizers have no effect on it, the very small milpas find the effects are that it becomes yellow and scorched through the middle.

That means that a good part of the farmers are now going to feel the losses thanks to the climatic effects.

EA: Last year we could see it in the growth of the coffee. In November, when we had Tropical Storm Aída, the crops were grown and ready to cut. But we had so much rain in eight days that it ripped out the grain and that caused a huge loss. Particularly for the small producers, that is really difficult.

Like Francisco [Chico] said, with all the rain and throughout this winter with so many storms passing through – and we’ve only seen the tail-end of them – it’s almost irreversible. But even so, I think we have to make an effort to see what type of seeds we can work with, what type of plants and what other possibilities we have to be able to work with the producers to improve their food security.

JC: During last November’s storm, COMUS was making 20 quintals of coffee because we had seven flowerings …???… which means that this coffee dries itself …???…

MM: One last question about the land titling.

EA: For COMUS that’s a right for which we were formed and for us it’s an important axis of our work since our foundation, and it has been maintained. One of the people who we could mention has been important in shaping this problem is someone from here in the community, colleague Francisco Lemus (Chico), who has given a lot to the communities. It would be interesting for him to show it from his experience.

CP: Just to say a little about land titling, one of the problems which came out of the armed conflict in this country was the land ownership and the concentration of land in few hands. With the struggle there was a good group of families, 450 of them, only in this zone, managed to obtain property titles. From the time when they took over the lands, COMUS accompanied them right up to their becoming legal and with their title deeds in hand. It was in 1994 when that process was managed. But from 1995 for this zone we believed that the problem of the legality of the lands had been resolved and was finished. Eight or ten years passed and we didn’t give much emphasis to the land issue, but after the earthquakes [2001] we began to discover that in this zone the families had obtained their lands under the famous agrarian reform. With the agrarian reform, land was given to the campesinos, but at the same time they acquired a debt; so the cooperatives sold their land in order to pay off that debt. So the land was given to other campesinos and they got the debt with the land titles.

Since 2003, COMUS has re-adopted the problem of land titling and we’ve been faced with loads of families and cooperatives who now have the problems of the legality of their land with the ILPE. Because of the debts they have, these are big problems. They cannot pay the debt, so they can’t get their title deeds, and so now COMUS is running a process of accompaniment and doing socio-economic studies with the families so that they can demonstrate that they cannot pay for the land, and in this way to see how we can resolve the problems of legality. The accompaniment in this process of land titling is still continuing and we think that it’s not going to stop. We believe that with the change of government it’s going to be a bit more flexible and easier to resolve the legal situation of the families. But we keep on meeting these inherited traps which were left by former governments twenty years ago, and it’s not easy to resolve the problem.

So COMUS continues to deal with the land titling problem


Radio Victoria

Interviewees: (from left in photo) Oscar Beltrán, Cristina Starr, Manuel Navarrete and Elvis Zavala (all of Radio Victoria)
Interviewer: Conducted by members of the CIS election observer delegation
Location: Cabañas, El Salvador
Date: 29 January 2014
Theme: TBC
Keywords: TBC
Notes: Both Spanish and English versions are presented together as the Spanish conversation was translated by Cristina Starr during the meeting. In many cases, especially where the speaker talks at length, Cristina summarises rather than translates.

Comments are noted with [inaudible + time] for inaudible speech. It is noted that the translation done by Cristina Starr is in conversation with Oscar Beltrán, but some of the Spanish male voices during the first 3 minutes of the recording are unidentified. Times within the recording are occasionally given in brackets.


Cristina Starr (CS): Translating for Oscar Beltran: So my name is Oscar Beltrán and I’ve been working here for [inaudible 0:19]. I’m one of the founders of the radio and I do that full time, but I come here every week. I’m part of the four of us and a couple of other people who are part of the collective, that is kind of the leadership of the radio, so we don’t have to regularly have a group collective that runs the radio together.

Spanish Male Voice: Bienvenidos, buenas tardes, a la red de Santa Marta más de 17 años acá en este Proyecto y soy locutor y encantado de tenerle acá, gracias.

CS: Translating: So, welcome everyone. Good afternoon and welcome to Santa Marta. I work on the air team, we support [inaudible 1:21] and I have worked here for 17 years with this radio.

Spanish Male Voice (Jesus): Buenas tardes soy Jesús, vivo en Sansuntepeque y Brian me invitó para acompañar a la delegación de ustedes. Trabajo con él en cárceles y, éste me da gusto que hayan venido a conocer nuestro proyecto [inaudible].

CS: Translating: My name is Jesús and Brian invited me to join you all today. I work with him in prisons and I’m pleased that you’ve come here to get to know about our project [inaudible 1:56 – 2:02].

Elvis Zavala (EZ): Buenas tardes mi nombre es Elvis, eh, soy de Santa Marta, una comunidad como a 8 o 9 kilómetros de acá. Tengo ya 15 años recién trabajando en la radio y estoy en la parte de, coordinando la parte de educación y la parte de dirección de la radio también.

CS: Translating: Hi, my name is Elvis and I’m also from Santa Marta which is a community about 8 or 9 kilometres from here, and I have also been working here for 15 years at the radio station and I work on the educational production area.

Martin Mowforth (MM): [2:41] Y el perro?

CS: [inaudible 2:43 – 2:50] And she has a very interesting [inaudible 2:53 – 3:04]

Spanish Male Voice: Creo que vamos a dividir en algunos momentos, algunos momentos la charla, y uno tiene que ver con la parte de la historia, como nace el proyecto comunitario, la otra tiene que ver un poquito con la situación por la que ha pasado la radio a partir del trabajo que ha hecho. Y de nuevo plantear un poquito las proyecciones también que tenemos con el proyecto comunitario con la Radio Vitoria.

CS: Translating: So we’re going to divide our presentation into moments, so one will be, you know, how the radio started, what its origin is and then we’ll go on to talk about the more difficult time that we went through at the radio, and then what we are doing now.

Oscar Beltran (OB): Bueno, empiezo primero: la radio, Radio Victoria nace en Santa Marta en 1993, el dia que hace su primero transmisión al aire.

CS: Translating: So, the radio entered the community of Santa Marta in July 1992, that’s the first day we went on the air.

OB: Pero, ya el proyecto de la Radio Victoria venía desde mucho antes porque siempre estabamos discutiendo como tener un medio para comunicarnos. En ese momento solo se hablaba a Santa Marta, pero ya cuando se logra concretizar el proyecto, ya también se está visualizando como no ponernos solo al servicio de Santa Marta, sino de la mayoría de comunidades que, donde pudiese llegar la señal.

CS: Translating: So in the beginning we transmitted in Santa Marta and the idea was that we were going to be a radio for Santa Marta, but as the project really became a real project when we went on the air, we began to think that this is something of benefit to more communities, and so that’s when we thought about coming out here.

OB: Entonces fue una iniciativa de Santa Marta porque creíamos que ya estaba llegando el, la finalización de la guerra pero necesitamos también tener medio para comunicarnos internamente cualquier cosa que pasara en cualquier punto de la comunidad. Porque sabemos que los medios tradicionales no se iban a poner al servicio de la comunidad, entonces es como la primera razón en la que se piensa en el proyecto de Radio Victoria.

CS: Translating: And so the radio began in Santa Marta, with the idea that the war was ending and it was a way to communicate on a local level and that the big commercial media never really talked about what was going on in the rural communities and so that was the kind of idea. I would also add that it was a time of transformation from the civil war to peace and having a means of communication available to the community.

OB: Y, bueno la Radio Victoria ya hace su primera transmisión, ya después de haber un poquito más de un año de haberse firmado un acuerdo de paz en el Salvador, y decíamos bueno también es importante que los medios de comunicación jueguen un papel en este proceso de democratización en el que va a entrar el país, a partir de la firma de los acuerdos de paz.

CS: Translating: And so the radio started just a little, about a year after the peace accords were signed, and we thought that this was a really important moment in history to be participating in this transformation.

OB: Y eso se traducía para, para nuestra práctica comunitaria el hecho de abrir espacio dentro de la radio para que comunidades que casi ni se sabía que existían durante el tiempo de la guerra, incluso hubo gente que quizás pensó que desaparecieron esas comunidades, pero que seguían existiendo. Entonces el proceso de dar a conocer todas las condiciones en las que habían quedado, porque por un lado el Gobierno estaba planteando que el país ya estaba en paz, y nosotros estamos diciendo que era mentira. Acababa de firmarse el proceso pero era necesario atender las necesidades graves que había en las comunidades.

CS: Translating: And so there are a lot of communities that people didn’t know what had happened to them during the war, and thought they had maybe disappeared, and they began to participate with the radio and the radio opened its doors to them. A lot of people said well, you know now we have peace and the peace accords had been signed, but what it wasn’t was this kind of beginning of a process so conditions were still very difficult and the communities said the idea was a bit – oh, all of a sudden you’re [inaudible 8:20] – no, you’ve still got to address the difficult conditions that people were living in within the communities and that’s part of what the radio began to address.

OB: Gente que no tenía acceso a educación, gente que se moría porque no tenía atención médica y en todo que removía hasta un punto en el que podían atenderle se morían también porque no había acceso a las carreteras, entonces tenían que cargarle en hamacas y, y, todo eso por supuesto era difícil. De esto no se estaba hablando en los medios tradicionales, entonces era importante ponerlo porque era unas apuestas también que tenía que hacer el Gobierno a partir del proceso que se entraba.

CS: Translating: So there were communities where people didn’t have access to education, people died because they couldn’t get to healthcare, they couldn’t get to a road or a car, and then trying to find a way to get a ride and by that time many people had died; these were situations that were never reported in the regular media and so the radio began to talk about this.

OB: Ya hasta ese momento ya se había trasladado la radio para este punto, y el moverla a un punto como este que es más alto que Santa Marta, no solamente era por el tema de altura sino también porque consideramos que era un punto donde siempre pasa la gente que viene de las comunidades, entonces es estratégico poner la radio donde las comunidades podían pasar porque me sentía parte, como un medio de comunicación interna entre las comunidades. No había teléfonos para llamar, una comunidad tenía que mandar un aviso desde una comunidad a la otra, tenían que caminar horas. Entonces la radio facilitaba que esa forma de comunicarse porque pasaban dejaban una nota o alguien pasaba por la radio y, y tenían las puertas abiertas. Nosotros habíamos dicho: la gente no tiene que sentir que tiene barreras para accesar a la radio, a un micrófono de la radio. Entonces era, fueron están las razones por las que se consideró este como un punto estratégico para que la gente pudiese ir entrando a la radio.

CS: Translating: And so that’s when we moved from Santa Marta up to Victoria because Santa Marta was down in a valley and Victoria is the highest point in Cabañas. This was not only because of the altitude of Victoria, but also because it’s a place where people come from all different communities, and so here at the radio we’ve always had our doors open and always made it easy for people to come in and have access to the microphones. Before if somebody wanted to communicate for longer, they would have to go walking for hours and hours, but now they come here and they can [inaudible 11:13 – 11:18] opportunities.

OB: Y, bueno, creo que la radio, la población empezó a encontrarle sentido a la radio. Primero no estaban acostumbrados a, a hablar frente a un micrófono, entonces también el equipo de la radio tenía una tarea de ir enseñando poco a poco a la comunidad a aprender a hablar frente a la radio, porque uno normalmente no está acostumbrado a hacer esto. Y a parte los medios de comunicación, por lo general, tiramos la responsabilidad a la gente, decimos nosotros acudimos, los micrófonos, abrimos los espacios, pero la gente no quiere participar. Es mentira, la gente no está acostumbrada, entonces no lo va a hacer. Entonces hay que irle enseñando y diciendo como puedo aprovechar el medio de comunicación. Y era así como la gente comenzaba a encontrarle el sentido porque dejaban anuncios e iban moviendo rápido toda la información que ellos querían transmitir.

CS: Translating: So people began to find that they were here maybe on experience or work for them because they would come here and they would bring messages, but also we were beginning to show people, you know – come on in, you can sit, you can talk to us on the mic – people weren’t used to talking in front of a microphone, but you know we would encourage them and we would talk with them and we would say look, if your family hears your voice then you’ll feel more confident about what the message is, or your relatives or whatever, and so little by little, little words and the traditional commercial radio, you know it’s not that easy to get into the transition pattern and talk about words or quotes, but here we encourage that because that’s probably what the community radio is about, being open with people.

OB: Y, en ese momento cuando ya la gente comienza a ir dándole luz por la calle, y ya no, no era solo un espacio para escuchar, sino que podía venir participando, siendo parte del equipo de la radio. Eh, comienza a haber toda una interacción y por supuesto que las instancias del Gobierno empezaban a sentirse presionadas porque estaba saliendo información que ellos no consideraban importante pero que afectaba la, las apuestas que ellos estaban haciendo de cara al desarrollo del país. Porque traían organismos internacionales y eran San Salvador como las ciudades más importantes que les mostraban, pero no les venían a mostrar toda la situación de cada comunidad que había en el país otros lugares. En la medida que la radio lo estaba haciendo público, estaba afectando a los intereses del Gobierno.

CS: Translating: So the radio began to talk about the conditions that people were living in and what was going on. This wasn’t so convenient for the government because when international people were found with aid they were shutting down the big cities, but wouldn’t really go out and share the aid with the people who lived in the countryside, so the radio began to trivialise that; what the situation was, what peoples’ lives were like and what conditions they lived in; and that wasn’t convenient at the time.

OB: Estamos pues cuestionando incluso que como era posible que en la firma de los acuerdos de paz no se hubiese negociado la presión psicológica a toda la gente del país que participo en ese proceso directamente o que se vieron afectados por todo el, el proceso de la guerra. Porque la guerra en el Salvador se registra como una de las 10 guerras más violentas en el mundo. Entonces, ¿Qué impacto pudo haber generado la promulgación? Pero no sé, no sé, no se negociaron en la firma de los acuerdos de paz, es por eso que incluso a estas alturas toda la administración que tiene el país tiene que ver también con esa, esa mala negociación, esos malos procesos que se llevaron para finalizar la guerra del Salvador.

CS: Translating: So we all spoke and people began to question the peace accords and nothing was talked about in that about the psychological effects of this war, because it was a war that was heavily dressed as one of the ten most violent wars in history. How’s it possible that people didn’t take into consideration the effects that people had suffered through this war and who were affected by the war, travelled to gain [inaudible 15:54] and that’s part of why people are suffering right now because the psychological effects were not taken care of.

OB: Y, bueno, la verdad que no espero mucho de la reacción del Gobierno. El Gobierno empezó a hacer una campaña en la que estaba desacreditando a los medios comunitarios, tratándoles de, de radio guerrillera, radio comunista, y como en el proceso de la guerra todo eso se había tergiversado, estos los conceptos habían sido mal utilizados. Entonces, eran conceptos de terror, entonces decir la radio guerrillera era asustar a la población. Y bueno al lado de llegar a cerrar las radios comunitarias acá en el país.

CS: Translating: So the government began to react and began to call the community radio – it was Radio Victoria that existed at the time – all kinds of names like guerrilla radio. It got to the point where the government shut down the community radio stations that existed at that time.

OB: Y, bueno el Gobierno, la intención del Gobierno en ese momento fue, bueno si la gente, para votar la radio, para comprar equipo es tan caro, le pegamos un golpe como este, le quitamos los equipos, aquí se muere toda esa iniciativa de las radios comunitarias. Pero se equivocaron porque fue al contrario, fue como que le dieron más realce todavía al tema de, de la radio comunitaria, porque medios internacionales, incluso, se interesaron por el atropello que se estaba dando en este país a los medios comunitarios, sobre todo reventando un derecho tan fundamental como es la libertad de expresión.

CS: Translating: So the government thought that by coming in and taking our equipment that they would limit our resources to be able to continue on, but actually that plan backfired because that gained a lot of attention, and understand that we would put a demand into the Supreme Court that the constitutional side of it, because as Oscar said, it was a violation of freedom of expression, and so instead the disappearance gained more attention.

OB: Fue también un momento para darnos cuenta que la gente, se estaba apoderando ya de estos proyectos de radio comunitaria, porque la gente también salió a la calle a exigir que se devolvieran los equipos a las radios comunitarias. Eso también muy fuerte, el apoyo, porque dijimos bueno parece que no estamos haciendo nada en vano, la gente si está valorando nuestro esfuerzo y está saliendo a la calle para defendernos.

CS: Translating: People also showed what the radio meant to them, because people went out into the street in protest and that had even more of an impact because the government saw all these people in a protest march saying we want our equipment back, so our community radio can function.

OB: Y bueno, el tema incluso llego a otros países como Estados Unidos, al grupo progresista, muy progresista que enviaron cartas también presionando a la Corte Suprema de Justicia, que ¿Cómo era posible que después de haber firmado un acuerdo de paz, se estuviese violentando de tal manera la libertad de expresión? Y un derecho tan fundamental como es la comunicación. Entonces que se diera un fallo a favor de las radios comunitarias. Y se dio algo, pero la verdad es que no fue, que no fue nada significativo porque aunque hicieron una pequeña modificación de la ley, nunca se, esta, ni pusieron que existen las radios comunitarias legalmente en este país.

CS: Translating: And all these people from the United States were saying how is it possible that you have signed peace accords? You’re violating people’s right to expression and freedom of communication, and eventually there was a modification, and I would add that the Supreme Court ruled that our equipment should be returned and we went back on the air.

OB: Si, bueno, y aunque no se podía regresar como, como se los llevaron, y muchas veces tampoco se los entregaron, porque no usaron los métodos más adecuados para llevarse los equipos, ellos cargaban, tiraban los equipos. Entonces son equipos que no se pueden tratar de esa manera, y con un medio golpe se dañan, entonces el estado tampoco resolvió.

CS: Translating: [inaudible 21:05 – 21:12] Some of our equipment was returned damaged and it wasn’t a very well dealt with situation.

OB: Y, ¿Qué fue lo que logramos legalmente? Solamente que modificaron la ley donde decía que en el país existía un medio de comunicación de cobertura local, y solo cubre los municipios; de cobertura departamental, cubre un departamento; de cobertura regional, dos o tres departamentos; y de cobertura nacional. Entonces en el fondo no cambiaba nada, y las radios comunitarias tenían que seguir sobreviviendo y compitiendo con la lógica comercial cuando nuestro sentido comunitario no va con la lógica comercial de la comunicación. Entonces, no hubo nada significativo realmente para la radio comunitaria.

CS: Translating: So what have we really achieved? The law, where the deal was recommended that there was local radios for townships or departmental radio stations. The regions that we ended up covering always continued to compete with the traditional commercial radios in the country, and so have never been recognised as community radio.

OB: Pero en lo, peor lo que nos mostro que el Estado estaba buscando la forma de como quitarnos, cerrarnos las puertas a las radio comunitarias fue que, una vez ya que se logro ese acuerdo, lograron hacer esa pequeña modificación de la ley. Nosotros como asociación de radio comunitaria, que eramos un equipo mucho más grande, hicimos gestiones a nivel internacional para obtener los recursos, para poder comprar las frecuencias porque nos daba una, se nos decían que podíamos funcionar pero no se nos daba una frequencia para funcionar. Entonces, quedábamos igual. Y, y bueno lo sorprendente que cuando llegamos a obtener unos recursos, pero vamos ala radio nacional para que nos alquilen una frequencia, nos dicen que el aire está saturado y que no pueden vender una frequencia a la radio comunitaria.

CS: Translating: So in that time, after the radio returned to the air, we created a national community radio station, and after the radio we sat down and talked on the air as we had gotten a lot of attention, we were able to get funds from different aid organisations and where we had the resources to buy a frequency that we could use for community radio, because we were never authorised a frequency – we would just go from one frequency to another, and finally when we did have the resources to buy a frequency and we wanted to set up a community radio, they [national radio] said, oh sorry we have cut the frequencies for community radios.

OB: Y bueno, ocurrio también pensar en algunas personas de confianza de la asociación que fueran a presentarse como, como empresarios que estaban interesados, en poner, en tener su radio para su negocio. Y efectivamente lo hicieron, llegaron y dijeron: mire somos 3 empresarios que estamos interesados en una radio, tenemos el dinero para comprarla, cuesta tanto y aquí esta la frequencia disponible. Y se vendio la frequencia, asi es como hemos logrado tener esta frequencia la 92.1.

CS: Translating: So what we did is we found some people that we had a lot of trust in, and sent them in as if they were business people that wanted to start up a new radio and have a frequency. They were like well, here’s your frequency and some money towards it, and that’s how we were able to get a frequency on 92.1 and that’s the frequency that many community radios throughout the country are on.

OB: Y bueno, creo que ahí teníamos un reto grande tambien porque eramos mas de 10, de 10 proyectos, de radio en todo el país. Y era ¿qué vamos a hacer? Solo tenemos una frequencia y somos como 10 proyectos. Entonces, dijimos bueno, si hemos estado criticando la forma tan centralizada como funciona la comunicación, entonces con lo poco quehemos logrado conseguir hay que buscar una manera de centralizar la comunicación. Y asi fue como se empezó a distribuir la frequencia 92.1 en diferentes puntos del país, que ahora hay como 17 proyectos de radio en una sola frequencia en un país tan pequeño.

CS: Translating: So then we were faced with how we were going transmit on that point with ten different community radio stations, and how would we work it out so that we can all transmit on one frequency over the country, but we do have interference problems that we have with 17 different radio projects that use the same frequency.

OB: Y, bueno ahi, eh, nosotros consideramos este, que desde que nace la radio hasta el 98 que fue como una etapa en la que era una lucha tanto por sobrevivir y casi no nos preocupamos por ponerle tanto contenido a la radio, sino mas que la radio comunitaria no se quiere en el Salvador.

CS: Translating: And really from 1993 to 1998 we consider it our kind of ‘survival stage’ where we were struggling to keep our heads above the water, because we were being attacked by the government and the difficulties meant that we didn’t have the space or the chance really to put our concentration into the content of our programming.

OB: Y bueno creo que eso, es mas o menos un resumen de, de la historia y asi comenzamos a ponerle un poco mas de cabeza, como ir estructurando nuestra programación y como ir respondiendo también a las necesidades que tienen las comunidades de comunicarse.

CS: Translating: So that’s kind of the history of the radio and then we moved into another station where we really did start to put a lot of energy into the programming of the radio and the needs of the communities and how could this radio station really be of use to them.

OB: Bueno, quizás, voy a encontrar un poquito a mis compañeros sobre, mas sobre la parte que ha significado para la radio, asumir una carrera como esta de ponerse del lado de las comunidades y defender los derechos comunitarios.

CS: Translating: So now maybe we will talk about what it meant to the radio to see inside of the communities and to give them the rights, to see what we professionals value.

Manuel Navarrete (MN): Bueno, quizás empezar tambien diciendo lo importante que es Radio Victoria, ha sido una radio escuela, aca han pasado cientos de jóvenes, que deseo que hemos llegado aca, aca hemos aprendido a hacer radio, a ser locutores, a ser presentadores, a ser periodistas, que puedo poco le hemos enseñado al que no sabe nada y eso ha sido la tónica del proyecto.

CS: Translating: So something really important about Radio Victoria is that it has been a radio school; there have been hundreds of young people that have passed through here that started at zero and somebody who knows something about somebody else, and that’s the way the dynamic has been working here since we began.

MN: Ahora hay muchos jóvenes que han sacado sus carreras universitarias, viven y trabajan en otros proyectos pero siempre están ligados a la radio, Porque siempre el deber de colaborar con este proyecto, pues que les enseño mucho.

CS: Translating: So there are a lot of young people who now have degrees from universities and who are working on other projects, but they still feel a commitment and a love for the radio because this is where they began.

MN: Bueno, Oscar ha mencionado una parte importante y creo que tambien para nosotros después de obtener una frequencia, cuando eramos mas grandes ¿verdad? Que empezamos a poner un contenido a la radio y empezar tambien a acompañar a las comunidades mas de cerca, a visitar las comunidades, ahí nace un proyecto interesate de radio, radio, historia y camino a las comunidades que es ir a la comunidad a conocer su realidad y de esta manera tambien a través de la radio poder dar a conocer las cosas buenas que hay en las comunidades pero tambien hacer la denuncia publica de todos aquellos proyectos que durante décadas las comunidades nunca obtuvieron.

CS: Translating: I think Oscar said something really important which is when the radio began to concentrate on the content of what we were putting out and how we were involving the communities, and we began with a project also that involved Radio Victoria going to the communities and seeing the conditions that people live in and what their lives were like and what they had been able to achieve, but also the kind of promises that local authorities had made to them and then had never completed.

MN: Y algo que es importante, es que, la población del departamento de Cabañas, por tradición es gente muy conservadora, eh, muy tendente a la derecha digamos, y cuando empieza la radio de hacer un trabajo de llevar a la gente la buena noticia de Derechos Humanos, empezamos a llevar las noticas, y tambien programas que hablen de todos estos temas, empieza una serie de situaciones de parte de políticos de dentro del departamento, que no veian bien o no ven bien ese tipo de trabajos que realiza la radio.

CS: Translating: So Cabañas is a department that is known to have a very conservative population and people have traditionally been aligned with the right wing, but when the radio began to do this work of visiting communities and putting out local news and producing community programmes that talk about what the reality of what is going on locally, that the local government began to say ‘what are they doing, this isn’t good that this has happened’.

MN: Y muchos de ellos en lugar de ver a la radio como una aliada estratégica para poder desarrollar proyectos con las comunidades, le ven como una amenaza y empiezan a criticar nuestro proyecto y a descalificar el proyecto de Radio Victoria, tildándole de radio guerrillera, radio cuchillo y muchos diciendo que esta radio tiene que desaparecer de aca de Cabañas.

CS: Translating: And so they began to say what’s going on here, and they began to disqualify the radio stations and say that there radio stations shouldn’t exist.

MN: Y es ahí como empiezan a llegar amenazas al proyecto de la radio en el año 2006, si mal no recuerdo, pues, por medio del teléfono nos llaman y nos dicen callense, ustedes muchos hablan, debido a que tambien hay procesos electorales. Siempre educando, quizás no como educar a la gente, pero si como informar a la gente ¿verdad? sobre la importancia que tiene el votar, pero el votar de una manera consciente ¿verdad? Analizar bien las propuestas de cada candidato en este, para alcalde, para diputado o para presidente, que ya no vengan y nos engañen ¿verdad? con esa propaganda barata que siempre andan los políticos. En este momento fue una coyuntura electoral y nos llaman aca al departamento de prensa y nos dicen: callense, porque sino se callan vamos a matar a uno de ustedes. Fueron como las primeras amenazas que recibimos antes del proyecto, pero nosotros no los vimos tan serio.

CS: Translating: So it was around 2005 or 2006 when we first began to receive some threats, as the government saw us as a threat to them, and so people began to call the radio because we were doing campaigns, we were doing electoral campaigns and we would say it’s important to vote, but not ‘just to vote’, but to analyse what the proposals said, and to think about what is best for your situation – something that never really used to happen in this country – and because of that we began to get phone calls, and a phone came in where this woman said “shut up, shut up, you better shut up or we are going to do something to you, so you just better stop talking.”

MN: Bueno y una serie de situaciónes pero que a la larga nosotros eso no nos retuvo. Pues siempre el reto de que el proyecto, cada dia, cada año será mejor, y trabajar de la mejor manera para la gente, porque siempre hemos tenido claro que nuestro deber son las comunidades. Y todavia están pendiente en esos años aca en nuestro departamento pues había proyectos de minería a los cuales el Gobierno había dado permisos de explorar, de explorar el proyecto de la mina, la mina El Dorado, nosotros como radio siempre tocamos estos temas. Pero llego un momento en que nos detenemos y empezamos a explorar ¿Qué es la minería? ¿Cuáles son los beneficios que traen la explotación de mina? ¿Cuáles son las cosas, tambien, que nos afectarían en la explotación minera en nuestro departamento? Y empezamos a brindar información a la población, miren estos son beneficios de la minería y empezamos a ver ejemplos, de proyectos que se han explotado en South America, aquí cerca en Honduras, el valle de Siria, y a contra razón del mundo, realmente la minería lo que trae es muerte y destrucción.

CS: Translating: At first with these people, we didn’t really pay much attention and we continued our work and we continued to accompany communities with their struggles, and then the mining company began to explore in the area and began to talk about it and ask questions. So we wanted to find out about mining and about the profits, and what the consequences might be.

MN: Y de esa manera pues empezamos a informar, a informar a todos y a acompañar consenso que la misma comunidad estaba haciendo, y organizar y empezar a protestar en contra de esos proyectos en el Departamento de Cabañas. Y precisamente en el 2009 se da un hecho triste, lamentable, aca en el municipio de San Isidro en donde secuestran y luego asesinan a un, a un ambientalista, un amigo, compañero. No se si ustedes habran oído hablar de, valga la redundancia, de Marcelo Rivera. Era un hombre que se puso en contra de estos proyectos en el departamento, y denunció a políticos, alcaldes, ejecutivos de derecha que estaban aliados con la compañía Pacific Rim, para poder explotar esa minería.

Entonces fue un hecho que a nosotros nos lleno de tristeza, y también fue pues un reto, porque Radio Victoria acompañaba a la comunidad en ese momento critico, cuando desaparece Marcelo Rivera, Radio Victoria dispone de dos periodistas, tres periodistas perdón, que andaban acompañando a la comunidad en la búsqueda de Marcelo Rivera. Porque la policía no quería, no quería hacer el trabajo, no querían investigar esta situación.

CS: Translating: So the communities were all organised around the issue of gold mining and trying to say that this is what we want and what we think of the mining company. We continued to educate ourselves with the company communities and organising protests, and it came to the point in June 2009 a very tragic and sad event happened which was that Marcelo Rivera was kidnapped and disappeared and for two weeks people were searching for him, and really it was the community and this family – the police were not involved – and we had three community correspondents that were accompanying the search. Eventually, his body was found at the bottom of a well, there were signs of torture and he had a been a community activist and environmentalist. He worked in the Casa de Cultura as a teacher, and he was a friend of the radio and had been part of our cultural events, our anniversary, our popular arts festivals, so it was a really tragic and shocking thing for us when we found this guy.

MN: Despues de la búsqueda intensiva de la comunidad, la radio, las organizaciones que se unieron, después de una semana se encuentra en un pozo el cuerpo de Marcelo, todo morado, o sea una muerte horrible, terrible, que se le dio al ambientalista, a este compañero. Y como radio pues nuestro deber informar, acompañar e informar, y al mismo tiempo denunciar ¿verdad? El trabajo pasivo de las autoridades del departamento de Cabañas, de la polica nacional civil, y es asi como que empiezan las amenazas a llegar a estos compañeros que andaban acompañando a la comunidad de San Isidro en la búsqueda de Marcelo. Fueron además de anónimos a sus casas en donde le decían que dejaran de estar haciendo su trabajo, que se retiraran de la radio, que sino pues los iban a asesinar y contaban los lujos de barbarie de, asi como matamos a Marcelo, asi los vamos a asesinar a ustedes tambien, retírense, no les queremos ver que estén en la radio, que anden metiéndose en cosas que no les importan.

CS: Translating: So Marcelo’s body was found tortured at the bottom of a well and his job was to warn people about what was going on and to announce what was going on, and the people that began to receive death threats – they came to their doors and their houses, and on their cell phones saying you know, we’ve got lots of details about what they were going to do. So they should stop working at the radio, and they should stop giving out support otherwise they were going to end up like Marcelo.

MN: Y allí empieza una persecución a muchos lideres comunitarios, a organizaciones sociales, al personal de Radio Victoria, desde esa fecha, desde lo de Marcelo, empieza, seguido venían anónimos, cartas, correos electrónicos, aca a nosotros a radio. Y recordamos un dia, que es bien histórico para nosotros, que es un 29 de Julio, si mal no recuerdo, que ¿Por qué es histórico? Nosotros, la verdad, habíamos ido a Sensuntepeque, a un encuentro deportivo y la compañera que quedo aquí en la radio nos llama sobre las 5 de la tarde y nos dice. Miren, aquí me han llamado y me han dicho que van a venir a prender fuego a la radio y que me van a secuestrar. O sea que una guerra psicológica terrible. En ese momento nosotros no sabíamos que hacer. Lo primero que hicimos fue ir a la policía nacional civil, pedirles que, que nos acompañaran a nosotros a la radio y luego a Santa Marta y que también vinieran a ver que estaba pasando en la radio. Pero, igual, cada denuncia que se hacia, la policía no le ponía la importancia necesaria a la situación que estaba dando con nosotros. Hasta ese momento, muchos de los que trabajamos en ese proyecto, estábamos totalmente nerviosos, muchos decidieron de momento yo me voy, porque están amenazando a mí, están amenazando a mi familia, entonces ¿yo que hago aca? Y muchos pensamos en ese momento, bueno entonces yo también, porque es bien tremendo cuando uno llega a la casa y en la radio se esta programando un, uno de los anónimos que nos enviaron en donde dicen, miren: usted hijos de …. y por ahí van diciendo un montón de cosas, sino se salen de la radio les vamos a asesinar, vamos a asesinar a sus hijos. Una guerra psicológica tremenda.

CS: Translating: It got to the point where, one day, about a month after Marcelo was found, we started to receive – because our anniversary is on the 15th July and we dedicated our anniversary that year to Marcelo and then everybody [inaudible 44:54], and they [presumably pictures of the tortured body as a warning?] would come on cell phones, they would come through emails, they would come under your door, and mention lots of people, written grossly with lots of details and people were nervous and panicking to this day, when everybody is on the radio went to [somewhere??] except for Isabelle who stayed here to premiere the music, and she was in the studio and she was sending something to Ecuador, when somebody says to Isabelle, “oh hey Izzy, you’re all alone now, huh? I’ve been watching you right outside and I’m ready to get you and I’m going to burn down the radio and I’ve been following you all day; this morning you went to San Isidro, you’ve been to this place, that place, and we’re outside right now and we’re going to get you.” So she calls up the people at the radio and says I don’t know what to do, I’m freaked out – this is what they’ve been telling me and they’ve been following me – and what the radio does is says, look, we want some help because we’re receiving these threats.

MN: En muchos de los correos se nos decían, les vamos a dar y nos mencionaban cantidades enormes de dinero, que dejaramos de estar trabajando aca en la radio. Incluso al compañero Oscar le decían, vos sos el directo despedir a Pablo, despedir y empezaban a mencionar nombres, incluso a Cristina, esa gringa. Unas, eran unas, una serie de cosas que nos ponían, en que pensar, de verdad. Yo en es ese momento dije, yo me voy de la radio, yo ya no voy a seguir aca, ya no soporto, es una presión horrible, terrible. Pero ese dia, a mi me cambio, a mi me cambio ese dia 29 de Julio, porque cuando nosotros llegamos aca de Sensuntepeque, encontramos aquí a la comunidad, se habían movilizado, la comunidad y habían venido aquí a la radio, y encontramos a toda la gente aca en la calle. ¿y que es lo que está pasando? Hemos escuchado que quieren quemar la radio. Y nosotros estamos aca para defenderles a ustedes y si vienen a quemar pues que nos quemen a todos. O sea ver la comunidad con esa determinación y esa decisión de defender un proyecto de radio como este. En lo personal a mi me animo, y en ese momento yo dije bueno si, en esta lucha no estoy solo. Aparte de mi están los compañeros, compañeras, esta la comunidad. Al final uno se decide, y bueno si me asesinan haciendo algo que es un bien común, es un bien para todos y todas, pues yo me resigno y que me asesinen. Y desde allí para aca pues decidi seguir en el proyecto y fue terrible, porque fue hasta el 2000, si mal no recuerdo el 2012, que recibimos la última amenaza. Que fue terrible porque nos ordenaron un plazo, les dejamos una semana para que ustedes se vayan de la radio y se vayan …


MN: Y del departamento. Si ustedes no lo hacen vamos a empezar a asesinarlos, sino podemos a ustedes a su familia, o sea, algo horrible, horrible.

CS: Translating: So it was a very difficult time because communities were pressuring us and saying that she shouldn’t have stayed there alone, and why are you exposing yourselves to these dangers, what are you doing? Personally, when I heard about Isabelle I was like I’m out of here, I not going to continue with the radio, I can’t do this anymore because I’m too scared. What happened was that we came back and we came to the radio and went down to the community of Santa Marta, that the radio is under threat to be burned down and when we arrive here, there are always people out in the streets being there, waiting there to defend the radio, and they said if they come to burn down the radio, they are going to have to kill all of us first. And so I said, okay, I’m not alone in this – all of these people are with me, and if they’re going to assassinate me, they can assassinate me because I’m doing something that’s good for the community and I want to continue on. [Inaudible 1:25-1:32] That was the beginning of 2012, and I’m continuing with the project in [Santa Elena? 1:36], and we battled through really difficult things, for example, I will say that I was here and there is another place, Paulo who is part of a news team has been waiting for years here at the radio, we could not do it because people came and started walking round his door in the middle of the night, saying “Paulo, come out, we want to talk to you.” Oscar has had people outside of his house, Elvis had people outside manipulating their guns, and you know these are things that, well it’s one thing to receive a piece of paper or something on your cell phone or email, to actually have people outside your house in the middle of the night is so terrifying. So we’ve all been through that, and I’ve received phone calls overnight from Paulo saying, “They’re outside my door, they’re calling my name and I don’t know what to do” – these are situations that we’ve had to come round and figure out what to do, and also know that the most important thing is to keep the radio on the air [Cristina speaks Spanish 2:47-2:57]. Yo lo he arreglado un poco, he hablado de casos personales, algunos mensajes en la noche, todo lo que nos ha pasado.

MN: No, y otra cosa que es importante quizás que compartir con ustedes, que antes que llegara la empresa al Departamente de Cabañas, las comunidades vivian con armonía, con hermandad, y con esa, con esa cosa que nos une ¿verdad? A la gente que vivimos en cantones. Pero luego que llega la empresa, que empieza a dividir a la gente de las comunidades, empieza a ofrecer dinero a algunas personas lideres y luego empieza a crear división entre los que apoyaban la, a la empresa y la gente que estaba en contra de la minería de la explotación de minas en sus comunidades. Y empieza a haber esa rivalidad y luego ya no se ven como vecinos, e incluso familiares ya no se ven como familias sino como enemigos. Y en ese, en ese tema, luego surgen tambien pues asesinatos ¿verdad? Pues que, que van relacionados con la misma lucha ambiental en contra de la empresa minera aquí en el departamento. Y se dan asi, pues asesinatos como el de Dora Alicia, una madre pues que venia del rio con su niño y embarazada, le salen al camino y la asesinan y a ella, al feto y tambien le barrigan al niño que lleva en brazos. Antes tambien se daba el asesinato de Don Ramiro, casos pues tristes y lamentables. Todo por defender la vida, por defender los recursos naturales, por defender que no se contramine la única fuente de, de algo que tenemos aca en el Departamento.

CS: Translating: So why the things would happen, is that before the Pacific Mining Company came into Cabañas, people lived pretty harmoniously and people were comfortable, but when the mining company came they began to do things like, offer some people money to work with them or to co-operate with them, but somebody else would say, whoa wait, that’s not your land, that’s my land and there was difference within the communities and [inaudible 5:13] was created, and then there was – so Marcelo was found at the beginning of July and at the beginning of August, Ramiro Rivera was shot in the back eight times, and somehow survived, but four months later in December he was ambushed with people holding machine guns and he had two motorbikes with him, but they only had pistols, so he and one other civilian were both killed. A week later Dora was coming back from Washington because she was eight months pregnant and she had her two year old son in her arms, and she was shot in the back killing her and her baby, and her two year old son was wounded and bled. So these are the kind of situations that are happening to environmental activists, these are people that have spoken out against the mining company, and every time we have denounced these assassinations or assassination attempts, we get raining down of threats again.

MN: Yo creo que lo más triste y lo más lamentable de toda esta situación es que, las autoridades no han hecho su trabajo. La fiscalía general que es la encargada de investigar de oficio todas las amenazas. Nosotros de todo pusimos denuncia, porque siempre nos decían es que ustedes tienen que denunciarlo pero tienen que hacerlo formalmente. Pues íbamos a la Fiscalia, formalmente cada quien a poner su denuncia, pero ahora hoy que es 29 de Enero del 2014, no tenemos una respuesta de quien nos está amenazando. Y con los casos de los asesinatos, en el caso de Marcelo dijo que era por cuestiones pasionales; en el caso de los ambientalistas Doña Alicia y de Don Ramiro que eran problemas entre vecinos, y hasta ahí llegaron las investigacions. Capturaron a hechores materiales, pero no han capturado a ningún hechor intelectual en los asesinatos. Nosotros siempre hemos exigido a las autoridades y a la misma Fiscalia, que queremos que no nos corresponda pues, que nos diga, porque en su momento hasta se nos quiso acusar que nosotros mismos nos estábamos autoamenazando. Y esa era triste y por un momento de zozobra que nos estuviesen diciendo los investigadores ¿no será alguno de ustedes que esta haciendo eso? Yo se lo dije a un investigador: si ustedes creen que eso es asi, son nosotros nos sometemos todos a que nos investiguen uno por uno, a ver si es asi. De verdad no dijo nada.

CS: Translating: So the sad thing is that now it generates 2014 and we went through all of the processes [inaudible 8:32-8:39] and even though they announced everything, people would come here and interview us over and over and over, and there has never been a response – no-one has ever come and said, you know, this is what we investigated, this is what we found – nothing! In fact, it got to the point where they said well maybe there was nothing. Until, we said fine come and investigate us [inaudible 9:08-9:17] it’s something, so you know, after all this time we never had any response to our process.

MN: Y el Estado reaccionó a esta situación gracias a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos quien hizo presión, y gracias tambien a una alerta que se hizo también a nivel Internacional. Y había siempre de organizaciones amigos y amigas de Radio Victoria y otras organizaciones que empezaron a presionar al Fiscal y al mismo Presidente de la Republica, enviando muchas cartas. En las cuales exigían a la Fiscalia, al Presidente, que actuarán, que investigará esta situación y es asi como ciertas medidas cautelares a algunas personas de la radio. Y hasta ahora podía tenemos algunos que andamos ahí con un policía, con un protector, y es algo bien difícil adaptarse uno, que está acostumbrado a andar libremente sin que nadie lo ande viendo que es lo que hacer ¿verdad? Y luego dejar que andase de esa manera y tener que andar con un policía siempre, donde quiera que uno va, es su sombra. Horrible, terrible pero que en su momento lo vimos importante hacerlo para poder salvarguardar nuestras vidas, aunque eso hay mucho entre dicho ¿verdad?

CS: Translating: So basically, we continued in that situation without receiving any response and we got a lot of international support from a lot of letters, embassy and national campaigns, saying people have sent letters to the attorney general and they sent us copies of the letter, but we’d get around ten to fifteen letters every day for a while and they were from all over the world, and we did a campaign on the radio and we asked people from all over the world to send messages and say you know, we’re here and we’re listening and we’re watching what happens to Radio Victoria, and you know, with all this pressure the human rights offence office also responded to us. We received some protection that we couldn’t possibly receive some of the people that had protectors and bodyguards since 2009, which is also a very difficult situation because that someone will be with you 24 hours a day and they will be stuck to you, and it stops you from doing what you want, anytime and all the time, and they’ll be writing everything down and you don’t even really know who they are, you don’t know what they’re writing down. It’s very, very difficult. Yet, at the same time, if we denounce these protectors, it’s like saying “forget it, everything’s fine,” and we’re not willing to let this case just disappear without ever having this kind of response; it’s a very complicated situation.

MN: Bueno quizás decirle dos cosas. Una es que la empresa Pacific Rim, en su momento vino, aca a la radio, a querer poner publicidad que nos ofrecia, si mal no recuerdo 8,000 dolares mensual por poner publicidad en la radio a favor de la minería. Y también nos ofrecieron, este edificio estábamos empezando a construir, nos ofrecieron hacer este edificio de dos o tres plantas, y que la empresa lo hacia. Yo creo que ahí fuimos contundentes de responderles de que ni por todo el oro que sacaran de aquí de la mina El Dorado nosotros le íbamos a pasar una sola cuña a favor de la empresa. Porque en ese momento andaban confundiendo a la población con esto de la minería verde que, que ayuda, que el medio ambiente, o sea una total farsa ¿verdad? Y el otro caso, es que hay una compañera nuestra, que debido al acoso, la seguian todos los días de personas que llegaban a su casa y le metían terror, ella pues al final, pues no soporto, era madre soltera tiene un niño y lo mismo la obligación de buscar, la seguridad que ella saliera del país, y ahora se encuentra en Alemania, debido a toda esta situación tan terrible que estamos pasando nosotros el personal. Y creo que esa posibilidad ha existido para todos, porque vinieron de la Unión Europea, bueno si ustedes quieren, quédense exilados a un país empecemos los tramites, empecemos. Pero el objetivo no es ese, yo creo que el objetivo nuestro siempre ha sido claro y es el de estar aca en Radio Victoria, y estar aca sirviéndole a nuestra gente, sirviéndole a la comunidad y no irnos, ni dejar el proyecto que se muera. Yo creo que ahí estamos bien claro el personal ahora.

CS: Translating: Just to remind you as well that the Pacific Rim Mining Company came to the radio whilst we were filming a project, and offered us US$8,000 a month to put advertising on the radio, and we said that we were not going to do that and they were doing these campaigns and confusing people, telling them that they were ‘green’ and very ecological, and we all know that El Salvador is a country full of volcanoes and earthquakes, and we’re talking about using cyanide to take the gold out of the ore, and also to divert all these other toxic metals going into the atmosphere. Well, how are we going to store all this cyanide in a country where we have earthquakes and tremors all the time? So we said you could take all of the gold out of the ground in Cabañas, but we will never put any of your advertising on our radio because it is environmentally bad for the country, and for the health of the people; and we’ve also had people from all over the world giving international support and found out about an organisation in Germany that offered asylum for a while to politically persecuted people, and they took her in and since she’s been part of that programme. Then the European Economic Community came to the radio and said that if you want asylum in this country, we can sign you up right now and facilitate that, but that’s not what our objective is – our objective is to be here; accompanying the communities and helping the communities, to help the transformation of this country to better their conditions and better their lives, so we have to be here, we’re not looking to go and live somewhere else.

MN: De haberse explotado la mina, 1% del oro explotado era para el municipio, 1% para el Estado Salvadoreño y el 98% se iba para Canada.

CS: Translating: So the mining company were able to move their mine here. The deal was that 1% of their products would go to the municipality, 1% would go to the national government, and 98% would leave the country and go to their pockets. So a good deal for that company, and a bad deal for the people here.

MN: Un negocio para le empresa, no para el pueblo.

Y por eso que es que el 2014, hoy el 2 de Febrero [fecha de la elección] está en juego mucho. El Gobierno que le dio el permiso de exploración a la empresa fue el partido ARENA. Entonces, quiere decir que si la derecha vuelve al poder, y en sus posibilidades puede, darle el permiso de explotación a la empresa, lo puede llegar a hacer.

CS: Translating: So that’s why February 2nd [election date] is really important because the party that gave declaration to the mining company to come and do exploration, was the ARENA party, and if they come back into power it is very possible that they will bring the mining companies back and begin the actual mining.

MN: Porque gracias a esa lucha se paro, se paro ese proyecto, pero no hay una ley en el país, y esa ha sido la exigencia de las organizaciones sociales y ambientales, que los diputados y diputadas aprueben una ley que prohíba de una vez por todas cualquier tipo de explotación de minas aca en el Salvador, pero eso no existe.

CS: Translating: Because the organisations that people were organising once the mining arrived, the committee have been able to stop the mining here at the moment, but what we all want is a law that puts mining in a country so tiny where the water is so vulnerable here, there should be a law that they cannot deal with.

MN: Somos un país chiquito, y explotar minas en nuestro país significa muerte y destrucción para sus habitantes que somos la mayoría, que somos pobres.

CS: Translating: So we’re a very small country and carrying out metallic mining in this country would mean destruction and death for the majority of people who have themselves to support.

[Applause – mixture of voices]

MN: Ah bueno, si, no se quedaron asi, fue a …, como nosotros pertenecemos a una Asociacion que se llama: La Asociacion de Radios y Programas Participativos de El Salvador, ellos fueron a la dirección ejecutiva a San Salvador, llegaron con el mismo paquete. Mire nosotros le vamos a dar mucho dinero, y allí ofrecieron mucho mas, yo no recuerdo la cantidad, pero queremos que ustedes le digan a Radio Victoria, a Radio Victoria y a todas las radios comunitarias que pongan nuestros anuncios, nuestro comerciales en todas las radios. Nosotros supimos, hicimos una carta, elaboramos una carta asi de reacción inmediata y la enviamos a la dirección ejecutiva explicando porque habíamos rechazado ese tipo de propuestas, porque va en contra de nuestros principios como radio, y que la rechazamos y que tambien le pedíamos a la Asociacion que no diese permiso a ninguna radio de poner esa publicidad. Y gracias a Dios lo hicieron asi, y no se pacto anuncio de Pacific Rim en ninguna radio comunitaria.

CS: Translating: So they moved into our national community radio association in San Salvador, and they offered even more money to them and they also turned them away. Importantly, everybody [inaudible 21:59] that money all the time, but we reacted and wrote a letter to our associations and said, you know, these people are advertising destruction and we cannot be part of this – do not allow them to put advertising on any of our radios; and we were able to stop them.

CIS delegate: I have two questions. When we were at MUFRAS, we heard about Rodrigo and Ramiro as well and what we heard was that apparently when he was shot for the first time that he recognised one of the employees was from Pacific Rim. What sort of – and after he was shot the second time it was the same person, but that person left the country?

CS: It wasn’t the same person.

MM: No, it didn’t say that.

CIS delegate: Oh we didn’t know who shot him? Oh, okay.

CS: He was killed the second time, so there would be no way of knowing.

CIS delegate: But there is no way that the person from the first time was there?

CS: I think he was in jail that time.

CIS delegate: He was in jail? He was found?

CS: Yes, but not for – I mean he was really [inaudible 23:20] that time. If you want to be part of – I’m not going to answer you – but if you want to be part of the [inaudible 23:33] club, we have relationships with our friendships and send out information sometimes and if you would like to be on our emailing list, just put your name very clearly please [laughter] because sometimes we can’t target people. [Starts speaking quiet Spanish]. La pregunta es que cuando Ramiro, le dispararon, me dice que el reconoció al que disparo y que era un empleado de Pacific Rim, porque Ramiro lo reconoció ….. no sabe que estaba en la cárcel …… [Ininteligible]

MN: Si, este cuando el compañero Ramiro, cuando él, bueno a él le asesinaron le pusieron una emboscada en un lugar estratégico, en el cual pues no, no conocieron a nadie de los, de las personas que en su momento hicieron el hecho. Pero luego cuando les capturaron si se supo que fueron jóvenes, pandilleros que habían sido contratados para llevar a cabo, sicarios ¿verdad? Contratados para hacer el asesinato. Hasta ahí se sabe, no se sabe quien los mandó porque creo que es lo triste aca, de que siempre los hechores materiales de todos estos asesinatos pues quedan impunes ¿verdad?, los intelectuales que son las personas quienes mandan hacer los asesinatos, y claro. Y la primera vez que atacaron al compañero pues si reconoció al muchacho, que era un empleado de la empresa y luego cuando se dio el asesinato el estaba preso.

CS: Translating: So the first time Ramiro was shot in the back of the legs, so he did recognise who it was and it was a person who was working for Pacific Rim and he was in jail for four months, but when Ramiro was ambushed and killed it wasn’t a very strategic spot where these guys came out all of a sudden and they had machine guns and they just shot him, and eventually they were charged, they were like gang members, hired killers, and this is what we have. It’s the material actors are also arrested and put in jail, but we never hear about who had ordered it, so it never goes beyond just the material actors, it’s never been investigated further.

CIS delegate: But from the first time, was there not a much clearer link between –

CS: Because he recognised the killers.

MM: ¿Todavia tiene sus guardaespaldas, sus protectores? Y ¿estan, agentes locales de la polica o no? Do you still have your bodyguards, your protectors? And are they local police agents or not?

MN: No, nosotros pedimos eso en un principio que queríamos que anduvieran con nosotros personas de confianza, pero no fue posible. Además que las personas que andan con nosotros, hay un contingente dentro de la policía nacional civil que son PPI, ¿no es cierto? Nosotros pedíamos ese tipo de policía, porque hay mucha gente conocida que incluso es de la zona, pero se negaron. Lo que ahora hoy pues son policía que normalmente se utilizan para cuidar a personas con militariados o testigos militariados o que andan cuidando pandilleros que son testigos claves de hecho pues. Ese es el régimen que nos están aplicando a nosotros, o sea que al final las personas que andan con nosotros ellos hacen actas. Cada vez que hacemos cambios ellos ponen en esa acta desde cuando uno llega aca, todos los movimientos que uno hace. A donde va, con quien va, con quien se reúne, a que hora come, o sea.

CS: Translating: The question was that we saw this [inaudible 28:35-28:39] we had to get the local police and though they’re not up to the same as a special unit, which is actually used for key like – what do you call it when you have a – witness, it has to be under protection because they have special information and I don’t know what you call it?

CIS delegate: A witness protection or something like that.

CS: Yeah like a witness protection come round, instead they really had to pay attention to sources and stuff, and we had Oscar’s with a part of the police that’s called protection for important people and if you are one of those important people you can say who you want to be your protector, and that’s what we wanted to be when we’re not important people, but we wanted to have people that we knew and that we trusted to be our bodyguards, and not complete strangers that we would have problems with them.

CIS delegate (Lenora Yarkie): How about three more questions and then we do have to get on our way to the ADEC office.

CS: OK, I just want to give a very brief explanation of some of the really positive things that the radio has done [inaudible 30:00-30:07]. Si por las amenazas, han continuado en la radio.

MN: Yo creo que eso es lo, algo interesante, nosotros no nos hemos tenido, como les dije al principio siempre vamos tratando de ser mejores y mejorar los contenidos e incrementar la denuncia pública, pues al final creo que las mismas comunidades son quienes lo hacen. Y algo que es bien curioso pero interesante a la vez, que a pesar de que la radio desde 2009 hasta 2012 hubieron amenazas continuas, había jóvenes también que venían con solicitudes, yo quiero formar parte de la radio. Y claro nosotros les preguntábamos pero y en toda esta situación de, de amenazas ustedes … Si, si, si vengo es porque siento el compromiso de querer estar en un proyecto como la radio. O sea que, hay mucho joven ahí también valiente que tiene ganas, y asi han ingresado muchos jóvenes a pesar de este período triste de verdad, de guerra psicológica, que no ha tenido miedo, y han llegado al proyecto de radio.

CS: Translating: So, I think that we haven’t changed our pamphlet and we have continued and increased our announcing of situations of really where we receive the announcements in the communities and we put their voices on the air in order to do that and really I think people have more ….


Jesús López

Interviewee: Jesús López, Administrator of CESTA (Salvadoran Centre for Appropriate Technology)
Interviewer: Martin Mowforth
Location: San Marcos, El Salvador
Date: 7th February 2014
Theme: An informal interview about drugs, gangs and crime in Central America
Keywords: TBC
Notes: Interview conducted as part of a tour of CESTA’s Eco-Bici Centre. Also present were Eric, one of CESTA’s mechanics and Fátima Haugstveit, a Salvadoran/Norwegian international observer at Salvadoran elections.

Jesús López (JL): We are working with young people here in San Marcos. Here in San Marcos we have a project – we are working with all the science networks.

Fátima Haugstveit (FH): aha.

JL: This means the science networks each have a teaching centre with a science teacher and this science teacher comes here to CESTA. In the last year they came, we had twelve sessions and we gave them support in all areas of the environment. Really like a course in reinforcement for them. The idea is that they transfer their knowledge to their students. But also we work with seventh, eighth and ninth grade students. And, in the formation of groups we form ecological groups and they develop many activities with the young people from awareness raising to parades, marches, demonstrations etc.

FH: mmm.

JL: So this is what we are doing in the communities. We have different types of projects: health, nutrition, eh.. solid waste, water …. and organisation. Because the idea is that the different communities, eh.. they might take them on. Now, apart from all this, we have what we call political communication and publicity, where the communities who have conflicts or various situations in their locality come and they are supported, firstly in the process of knowing what the problem is, secondly in making a complaint. They provide practices for them that they can use in different instances, eh … and to make any complaint or a request for support either to the mayor, the legislative assembly. So they use many means of communication.

FH: yeh.

JL: Almost every, every one or two weeks at the press conference presenting an issue.

Martin Mowforth (MM): mmm.

JL: Some, depending on the occasion, have more, as it were, more importance. For example, mining is one thing that took the focus like … (XXXXX). idea. And since June last year, it focussed on toxicity. The poisons here in San Listal (?), right? While others are still driving the other issues. So they use them in the teaching workshop. Shall we go?

MM: yes.

JL: The teaching workshop is a component within the whole project of CESTA here, in the area of promoting the bicycle as an alternative. As an alternative means of transport.

FH: aha.

JL: So here we enable young people.

FH: aha.

MM: aha.

JL: Young poor people. We have been doing this for five years, with young people from poor backgrounds.

FH: aha.

JL: For the past five years, because of the violent situation in which young people live, we started to accept young students who study in the morning and come to the school in the afternoon, or vice versa, they study, they come, come to CESTA in the afternoon because they study in the morning.

FH: si.

JL: Currently we have just finished school in December, that is (why) we don’t have any young people (at the moment).

FH: aha.

JL: There aren’t any young people.

FH: Yes, they haven’t started classes.

JL: We start from February and yes, until March.

[A lot of traffic noise and machines]

JL: Here we start to repair bicycles, new bicycles.

FH: Aha.

JL: We received support for a project to be able to bring new bicycles, but in doing this we realised, eh …, we had this … offer from some partners from the United States and Canada to send us used bicycles.

FH: Aha.

MM: Yes.

JL: And it’s that which, eh … and it’s that which we are ….basically we pay the freight. (very windy)

MM: Ah? Yes.

FH: And are you interested in this?

JL: Yes, this is what we do.

FH: No, but are they interested in receiving used bicycles?

JL: Of course, of course. (The projects) receive ….  Because in Norway there are many.

FH: Yes, yes. Do they receive containers? Yes? How many each month?

JL: A very curious thing happened to us, since 2008, 9, 10, we had a problem not receiving any, we were not receiving (them) because in the United States something happened, something happened in the United States, you see. The crisis was coming to the United States and they could not send bicycles, only one container per year.

MM: Yes

JL: And we had been receiving seven, eight containers per year. So then we didn’t receive any. So from then, really, we were looking for other options, because the partner who we had was very, was very sensitive, was asking for exclusivity, that is to say, “I’ll send them but you won’t receive any more”. We talked to him and we said, look, if you cannot send us more bicycles, eh.., eh.., we’re going to look for other options and we will find other options. And last year we received nine containers.

MM: Nine

JL: Nine containers, yes.

FH: But were they interested in receiving more? Or was that sufficient?

JL: Yes, yes, yes. No. We are interested because eh.., precisely for this reason that folks are running around Canada right now, you see. A good one [a cockerel crowing about in the background] is a Canadian and a French woman, who lives in Canada. They have come to make a documentary about how to use the bicycle which has been discarded in the North, as it were.

FH: Aha.

JL: Here in the South, regarding the bicycle, they travel around making a documentary about the bicycle project. Just now. for example, they are working in El Puerto, known as El Triunfo.

FH: Aha

JL: They are operating in El Puerto, El Triunfo, making a documentary because they want to see the area where the bicycle is used a lot, the principal means of transport. (noise of animals in the background)

FH: Yes, yes.

MM: But also, you know, we know their uses. I remember on my last visit the eco-bike taxi, the eco-bike, the eco-bike …recycler.

JL: Yes, we have them.

FH: Can I take a photo?

JL: Yes, yes, of course, of course. So, here, eh ..we were surprised last year. We were not expecting a big quantity of bicycles. So, suddenly, they offered us two containers and we thought: do we say yes or do we say no? Because that would overload us with bicycles. Because we had our options: to say no, with a risk that we would not be given future possibilities, as one doesn’t know how things are going to be the following year. So we decided to say yes, even though we were already overloaded with bikes.

FH: Yes, yes.

JL: Yes, really.

FH: But are there many bicycles for children?

JL: Yes. What happened is that, in the case of children, we provided bicycles from a recreational standpoint, really. And as you will learn, for example, the night cyclists were working with a group who were making night runs, three hundred going out every Thursday, three hundred people including men, women and children, every Thursday to cycle. So we are moving many of these bicycles into rural areas.

FH: Ahum.

JL: In the rural areas, we have, for example, different options. There are people who come to buy bicycles here (XXXX) and bicycle parts, so it pays, (XXXX) the bicycle project pays well. But there are communities who don’t have the means to pay and we give them the chance to, it means some subsidise the cost of the others, so to speak. He who pays more subsidizes he who cannot pay much, you see.

FH: Yes, yes, certainly.

JL: So the bicycles which came to us in November and December overloaded us a little, right.

MM: Yes, and is the disabled caretaker still here?

JL: Carlos Montes. You haven’t seen him? You haven’t seen Carlos Montes?

MM: Yes

JL: Carlos Montes is a disabled person. He’s specifically working for the promotion of rights of disabled people.

MM: Ah. Aha.

JL: We had a project where we wanted to make wheel chairs.

MM: Aha.

JL: We were supported well, supported by ‘Motivation of England’

MM: Ah, yes, yes.

JL: ‘Motivation of England’, helped us with a project to make and distribute about three hundred wheel chairs. And, through them, we saw for ourselves that it was important not only to give the wheel chairs but to change the way people thought about disabled people. And also that people with disability should reclaim their rights. So today we are at the position of being supported by SCIAF of Scotland.

MM: SCIAF, yes.

JL: They help us, they help us in this, in this project where we enable people with disabilities to ask and, and, and … achieve their rights. We are at this stage, for example, there are some laws which have been approved in El Salvador but don’t work for disabled people. That is to say, for every 25 people there are one or two disabled people that the law doesn’t work for. So, this is a part of the work that we do. We have a workshop here, which just now, as I want to explain, isn’t functioning because the school stops in December until the end of February. In March we start with a new group, right.

MM: Yes.

JL: So, that’s that. Let’s go. Here we have, good, well all the bicycles that have come to us, and the oldest and rarest bicycles, that we are collecting and we have called the bicycle museum.

MM: Yes, yes.

JL: This we have called the bicycle museum, the oldest bicycle we have is this one. Some Canadian friends came and helped us to go through all the bicycles. And this one was found to be from 1940.

MM: Ah, yes. Cousand Flyer. He, he. Tremendous!

JL: And this tricycle is from 1950, this one.

MM: This one?

JL: Yes. This one. Yes, no this tricycle.

MM: Yes, yes, but I am reading.

FH: And what is it?

JL: Ah, it’s a bicycle which has just arrived, which is, which has a motor.

MM: Ah, yes.

JL: With a motor incorporated.

MM: I have seen one of those in San Salvador.

JL: Oh yes?

MM: Yes, but with a very small motor.

JL: If you would like to come here to the (XXXX). Some guys are still staying here, after the school has finished, they have stayed preparing some bikes.
[Music and sound of motors]

MM: Good. I’d love to.

JL: This is the school that we have. [Louder music and noise of motors]

FH: And are these for sale?

JL: Yes, yes. Are you coming? Some bicycles are supplied like this, without repair. Others come into the production process (XXXX) [a lot of noise from motors] Some projects, because we have the idea that we subsidize some of CESTA projects which do not have resources.
[Voices, people talking and motors working, a constant background noise]

MM: Impressive. Greetings

Voices: Greetings.

MM: Greetings.

MM: A smile please. Ha, ha. Perfect! Thank you.

FH: (XXXX) I didn’t think much, but …. (XXXX) (unintelligible)

JL: Yes, no, no, alright, when the people come and see all this, all the groups who come from wherever.

FH: Can I take a photo?

JL: Come, and, and, and … yes (noise of motors) places and see, so.. see the work being done. For example, if you had more time, we could have gone to the different communities where other work is being done, natural resources, eh, of every type that is done. In some conservation things, for example in Batinana (?) we help the conservation of Manlio. We help with community organisation. In other places, in other places with erosion, in other places with toxicity, in other places with mining. Here, for example is the bicycle focus.

MM: Yes, yes. And I remember a visit a long time ago, probably ten years ago, to your Eco-Cojute.

JL: Cojute?

MM: With different young people and technical production, cultivation, yes.

JL: We have Cojute, there it is working well. Today it has been used a little more, because we visited there, last year, not in 2012, we had a bi-annual conference here of the ‘Friends of the Earth International’.

MM: Ah, yes, yes.

JL: We had about 150 people from different places, from 72 different countries beyond Cogutepe, you see. Where the bi-annual assembly was celebrated. And so, the centre remodelled itself a little to have capacity for 110 people, to sleep 110 people in this place.

MM: Eh, a year ago, more or less, I heard of a state of emergency in Pajilla de Iquilisto (?) of the Pecicillos eh.

JL: That was last year.

MM: Yes.

JL: That was all in the Bajo Lempa sector (?) including San Luis del Talgo, San Luis Talgo, all this was in a state of emergency because of the toxicity situation – poisons.

MM: Yes, and what is happening now?

JL: Eh, different organizations, including CESTA, addressed the government and some parliamentary groups, GANA, well all the groups except ARENA, approved a reform to ban 53 or 55 poisons, right.

MM: Yes.

JL: They approved it but President Fumes stopped it.

MM: Ah.

JL: And until it happens, we are still, waiting. We believe, the FMLN was pushing and then stopped a bit, we are hoping that after the elections start again, it will continue again in a better manner.

MM: So, after the elections.

JL: Yes, and we hope that it will be about prohibiting those toxins which are the most damaging. But some states, well the Mayor of Iquilico (?) I have been talking a lot about, about that, this is causing a lot of damage.

MM: Yes, yes.

JL: And much is attributed to kidney disease in the area.

MM: Right, yes.

JL: We, the associates are working very hard on this front.

MM: Um, yes, good, good. Good work. They have the same problem around Chichigalpa in Nicaragua. Because of the sugar cane plantations.

JL: Yes.

MM: And also. kidneys, cancer of the kidneys.

JL: We have, there is a problem there, there is a boy in Iquilico (?) who has this problem right now. Eh, we help and

MM: And the majority are young men, yes.

JL: So this is how it is, the young guys who have stayed here are those who have come to stay from the different schools, you see, yes.

JL: For example, the newest is him, is him and him, the newest, they have already spent a little time here, and they are doing well.

FH: Yes.

JL: Eric, he has been here about three years with us but he is the one who does the quality control.

MM: Aha, three years or thirteen?

JL: Three, three years here with us. How many years have you been here, Eric? Three years?

Eric (E): Three or four.

JL: Three, three years. So, eh, if you have the chance come back to see how the operation of the school and everything is going. Or another year, or if you can send us bikes, as I was talking to you before about wanting to send us bikes.

FH: We could, we could, hopefully it would be possible.

JL: Yes, I went to a German co-operative who told me the same, gave me dates and told me that they were sending bicycles to Africa. But they said they had a problem, that sometimes Africa could not pay the freight at any time and we have a container here and we have to do something, send it to another place. This happened to us last year that some counterparts wanted to send to Africa and I don’t know which part of America and I cannot remember at the moment. So they asked us Can you do this? Can you do this? And we … we’ve worked out it, so that we won’t be left without bikes. without bikes.

FH: Can I take a photo of them?

JL: Certainly.

FH: Can I take a photo of them?

JL: Eric, can they take photos? Yes,…. yes, he,he.

FH: Look. And, didn’t they make you a prosthesis?

E: No

JL: He doesn’t like prostheses.

Another man: I had a wooden one which snapped and a metal one which they made for me, it fitted me well but I haven’t used it ever.

JL: And the other one which you didn’t like, you said.

E: No, I used it.

FH: But, notice that it stays beneficial, then. If I, yes, ok, it is a good exercise but it’s necessary to have a good leg as well.

E: No, not if it’s catching on my waist.

FH: It’s very …. Yes, of course. [Noise of motors]

FH: But, doesn’t it help you? Eric, the prosthesis?

E: Eh, it was smaller and the socket was too big, so it didn’t fit me well and I left the stump. So now I’ve thrown it away [motor noise] and the (XXXX) [A lot of motor noise and voices]

FH: Good.

MM: Perfect, thank you.

JL: I, I know about some things, sometimes not much, because it is on the administrative side but all other CESTA projects I read about in the reports that we prepare for everything. But this, eh if sometimes you have the chance to come for longer and could visit the communities where we are working, agricultural, farm workers (XXXX).

MM: Yes, the next time I come, I, I would like to arrange an appointment.

JL: An appointment? Certainly, certainly. in advance.

MM: And a visit sometime to the Cojute Centre, but the next time. I represent ENCA, E.N.C.A.. In English it is the Environmental Network for Central America, an environmental network for Central America, which sends our bulletin to CESTA every four months, it’s a network of organisations, relatively small, and a base which is not only environmental but socio-environmental therefore. And, in the past, in 2001 we sent a group to study environmental problems in El Salvador and we visited here and talked to Ricardo Navarro. He gave us a workshop (XXXX), a workshop, a seminar. Ah, so, yes, but because, it was many years ago, so the next time, yes, the next time. We are simply only here this time.

JL: Visiting?

MM: No, for the elections as observers, us two, so, at the end of the process, we have only, in my case, only two days before we have to go to Managua, tomorrow. And I didn’t realise, ah, I didn’t realise that I had, I would have time to visit, therefore, that explains my slowness and delay.

JL: That’s fine, that’s fine. It doesn’t matter.

MM: And, look, what is your name?

JL: Jesús, Jesús López.

MM: Jesús. And your position here?

JL: I am the administrator of CESTA.

MM: Pardon?

JL: Administrator.

MM: Administrator. OK, perfect. Thank you, Jesús, perfect.

Recording Two

JL: Ah, there are 7 sets so that they can share between two, two young men at the same time. But most of them, then, are already quite obsolete. We have some Canadian compatriots who are going to buy some more for us for the disabled men, a set for in, either the ruined arm or the one they grab (with). So we are going to buy one set for each, one for each one, one for each one.. And some tools, all the tools they are wearing (using), so they are going to be renewed, but it’s either too … (noise of motors). And so we have 15 young men, to each one we give transport and groceries. When they live far away we give transport and groceries, when they live nearby just groceries.

FH & MM: (Nodding along with the conversation) Yes, yes, aha.

JL: Here we have a place, for example, for some time we have had people from various communities who come to stay here. We have here a space where they can sleep as well. Or when some cooperative comes, they can also sleep here. So we give this to each young man.

MM: Bigger. (more)

JL: And to others we give, we give, for example, those who have already finished school and have stayed, we pay them for, for, for repairing the bicycles, you see. So, that’s it, eh.

FH: And those who are going, who are leaving (the school), are going to do the repairing, do they have another place?

JL: Ah, Yes, we have the sales room, what happens is ..

FH: Do they sell them?

JL: Yes, of course. The compatriot who is (normally) here in the sales room is right now with the Canadian compatriots, who are going to make the documentary, it’s, making it for El Puesto el Triunfo. That’s why he isn’t here.

MM: Ah

JL: But here we have the sales room. That’s to say, we, for example we each have, eh, for each bicycle that comes here we have a, we have an inventory process. We make an inventory and we have this shop… for spare parts.

FH: Aha.

MM: Really

JL: This shop for spare parts (run by) one of the young men who is here, and here is the sales room.
MM: Aha.

JL: This is the sales room.

Recording Three

JL: But look, because, here we have bought tools which can be used for all sorts of things, and used for keys and these things. You can buy these here but tools like chain extractors, rod pullers which are specifically for the bicycle, it is difficult to find these here. Or buy them but it’s not happening.

FH: Aha.

JL: Well, it’s happens but it takes three months, two months.

FH: Yes.

JL: Really. (loud music) So the the specific tools to repair bicycles is what costs us money because we sent off to buy some pieces for extractors three years ago.

FH: Umm, aha.

JL: Which is what we have been using but they are already worn.


Hector Berríos with CIS

Interviewee: Hector Berríos of MUFRAS-32
Interviewer: Conducted by members of the CIS election observer delegation
Location: Cabañas, El Salvador
Date: 29th January 2014
Theme: The operations of Pacific Rim / Oceana Gold in El Salvador and the consequential human rights and environmental abuses.
Keywords: TBC
Notes: Translated in real time by Brian Rude


Hector Berríos (HB): Y ese es nuestro conflicto.

Brian Rude (BR): And that’s our conflict.

HB: Aquí mismo donde ustedes están sentados en el subsuelo hay mucho oro.

BR: So here where you are seated, the subsoil has a lot of oil, earth and gold. [Laughing]

HB: Esta región de San Isidro, es parte de la zona norte de nuestro país.

BR: Here in San Isidro we are part of the northern part of our country.

HB: En la zona norte de nuestro país está la reserva acuífera.

BR: So here in the northern part, we have the water table, the water reserves.

HB: O sea que tenemos, la poquita agua que tenemos, la tenemos concentrada en la zona Norte.

BR: So the little water that we have is concentrated in the northern part of the country.

HB: Pero tambien tenemos que donde está el agua este el oro.

BR: So the situation is that where we have the gold, we also have the water, or the reverse, where we have the water we have the gold.

HB: Entonces la crisis económica mundial nos generó crisis local a nosotros.

BR: So the general global crisis has generated local crisis for us.

HB: Los Gobiernos de Derecha de este país invitaron a las empresas mineras venir a invertir para sacar el oro.

BR: So the right wing governments invited the mining companies to come and explore and search for gold.

HB: Pero esto tenía venia aparejado de muchas reformas legales.

BR: So along with this came a lot of legal reforms.

HB: Y de muchos convenios internacionales.

BR: And a lot of international agreements.

HB: Que nosotros no entendíamos para que eran.

BR: But we didn’t understand what those were all about.

HB: Estados Unidos promovió mucho el tratado de libre comercio con Centro America.

BR: The United States promoted the free trade agreement with Central America a great deal.

HB: Al ir informarnos un poco nosotros vimos que eso atentaba contra la soberanía de nuestro país.

BR: So analysing that, we realised that this was a threat against our sovereignty as a nation.

HB: De manera inconsulta los Diputados de Derecha lo aprobaron.

BR: So the congress people on the right approved it without consulting the population.

HB: Hoy tenemos el resultado de eso.

BR: And now we’re seeing the results of that.

HB: Demandas millonarias a nivel internacional acogida al tratado de libre comercio.

BR: So now we have law suits worth millions of dollars based on these free trade agreements.

HB: Lo bueno de la globalización es que las luchas trascienden de lo local a lo nacional a lo regional y a lo internacional.

BR: So the good part about the globalisation is that the struggles also start with the local and they go to the regional, then the national and the international levels.

HB: Y de repente cualquiera se puede sorprender que una lucha de mujeres y jóvenes de un pueblo de San Isidro, ¿Qué está haciendo esa lucha, discutiéndose en Washington?

BR: So we have a struggle that’s being fought by the local youth or women, it expands and then it’s being thought about and discussed in Washington.

HB: Como no tenemos agua (voces y ruido de sillas). Como no tenemos suficiente agua, nosotros cuidamos nuestros ríos.

BR: So since we don’t have enough water, we look after our rivers and care for them.

HB: Y en el año 2004, alcaldes de Derecha e Izquierda, quisieron hacer un botadero industrial de basura en línea recta a 500m de un rio.

BR: ¿De Dercha e Izquierda?

HB: De Derecha e Izquierda, juntos querían hacer el proyecto.

BR: So the mayors both left and right wing wanted to work together to create a garbage disposal centre within 500 metres of the river.

HB: Nosotros nos opusimos porque iba a contaminar un rio donde mucha gente va a pescar para su alimentación, va a lavar, va a recoger agua y también tiene riegos para sus cultivos.

BR: So we opposed this because this is the river that people go to, to use water for consumption, to wash, to irrigate their fields and for fishing.

HB: En esas discusiones un alcalde nos dijo: ustedes se quejan tanto de la basura y no hacen nada cuando les van a explotar el oro.

BR: And so one mayor said well you fight against what we’re doing with the garbage, but you don’t say anything about the gold mining.

HB: Nosotros no sabíamos nada de los proyectos mineros.

BR: We didn’t know anything about the mining projects.

Lorena: ¿en qué año fue eso?

HB: Eso fue en el 2004, 2005. Finalizando el 2004 e iniciando el 2005.

BR: It was at the end of 2004, the beginning of 2005.

HB: Y es así que organizaciones locales comenzaron a investigar que era la minería.

BR: So local organisations began to investigate what this was about mining.

HB: Y todos escuchábamos las bendiciones de la minería.

BR: And we all heard about the blessings of mining.

HB: Trabajo, desarrollo, progreso, industria.

BR: Work, development, progress, industry.

HB: Organizaciones locales como SIC, ALES y MUFRAS comenzaron a investigar de que se trataba.

BR: So local organisations (SIC, ALES and MUFRAS) started to investigate.

HB: Hablamos con otras organizaciones a nivel nacional.

BR: We talked with other organisations at the national level.

HB: Y comenzamos a conformar un espacio que hoy llamamos Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica.

BR: So we organised what we call a National Roundtable (La Mesa) Against Metallic Mining.

HB: Y solicitamos al Medio Ambiente que nos dieran información sobre la minería, proyectos mineros.

BR: So we researched and asked the environmental groups to do some research and inform us about the effects of metallic mining.

HB: Ahí nos encontramos con un estudio de impacto ambiental de la empresa.

BR: So we found a study about the effects and business of mining.

HB: Un estudio de 1800 paginas en inglés.

BR: A study of 1,800 pages in English.

HB: Diseñado para que lo entienda un especialista.

BR: Designed for a specialist to understand.

HB: Nosotros nos sorprendimos porque ni sabemos inglés ni somos especialistas.

BR: So we were surprised because we don’t know English and we’re not specialists.

HB: Entonces lo que hicimos prestar.

BR: So we had to borrow.

HB: Nos dijeron que no los podíamos llevar.

BR: And they said we couldn’t take it.

HB: Le dijimos que queríamos sacar copias a todo el estudio para que alguien (Voces interrumpiendo y preguntando donde fue esto).

English Female: So where, from who? So where did –

BR: This was from –

HB: Era el, ya esta, era el Pacific Rim pero en el Ministerio.

BR: Yeah, the business of the Pacific Rim had made the study and it was in the ministry.

English Female: Oh the mining company’s study.

BR: Of the environment, yes. And they couldn’t borrow it or take it, or copy it, make copies.

English Female: Was it an environmental assessment or impact assessment?

BR: From the business, yes.

HB: Solicitamos autorización para fotocopiarlo.

BR: We asked for authorisation to photocopy it.

HB: Nos dijeron que no podiamos

BR: They told us we couldn’t.

HB: Entonces, dijimos que íbamos a fotografiar página por página.

BR: So we said we were going to take photographs of it, page by page.

HB: Nos dijeron que era prohibido.

BR: Prohibited, they said.

HB: Entonces nosotros dijimos aquí pasa algo, eso era obvio.

BR: Something is going on here – that was obvious.

HB: ALES una organización hermana local

BR: So ALES, our local sister organisation.

HB: Hace contacto en Guatemala con un especialista minero.

BR: Contacted a mining specialist in Guatemala.

HB: Con el doctor Robert Morales

BR: Doctor Robert Morales.

HB: El ha trabajado mucha de su vida para las empresas mineras.

BR: He’s worked a lot of his life with mining companies.

HB: Hoy es consultor independiente.

BR: Now he’s an independent consultant.

HB: Y hace estudios sobre la, los estudios de impacto ambiental de las empresas mineras.

BR: So he does studies on the environmental impact studies of the mining companies.

HB: Entonces los compañeros nuestros fueron a visitarlo a Guatemala.

BR: So our colleagues went to Guatemala to talk to him.

HB: Para que él pudiera venir a leernos el estudio y que nos dijera que es lo que estaba

BR: So he could come and read these studies and tell us what was going on.

HB: El determina dos cosas importantes.

BR: He determined two important things.

HB: Uno es que el estudio de la empresa Pacific Rim no determina el impacto de la actividad minera en el agua superficial ni el agua subterránea.

BR: So he discovered that the Pacific Rim study didn’t really come to any determination about the impact on either the surface water or the water underground.

English Female: So was he able to have access to the report?

BR: Yes, that’s what he discovered.

HB: Y lo otro que determina que es que no le ha consultado a las comunidades de Cabañas al realizar el proyecto

BR: And the people of Cabañas had not been consulted about carrying out this project.

HB: Ese es el origen de nuestras luchas.

BR: So that was the origin of our struggles.

HB: Comenzar a informarnos de que se trataba.

BR: So to begin to inform ourselves what it was about.

HB: Paralelo a eso la empresa minera estaba agarrando agua de nuestros ríos de forma directa.

BR: So alongside that the mining companies were taking water directly out of the rivers.

HB: Entonces, en el proceso de exploración que es para determinar donde está el oro, se consume mucha agua.

BR: So during the process of exploration, which was to discover where the gold was, they were consuming a lot of water.

HB: El agua es un lubricante para que los taladros no calienten demasiado.

BR: So the water is a lubricant so the drills don’t overheat.

HB: Pero el agua se estaba escaseando en algunas comunidades.

BR: So the water was becoming scarce in a lot of communities.

HB: Y la gente salía y buscaba quejarse con la Alcaldia, con la policía, con Media Ambiente y nadie le hacía caso a nada.

BR: So the people would complain to the mayor’s office, the police and environmental groups, but no-one would pay attention to them.

HB: Eso fue lo que fue dando las condiciones de nuestra resistencia.

BR: And so that set the conditions for our resistance.

HB: Las empresas mineras estaban avanzando y nadie nos escuchaba.

BR: The mining companies were moving ahead and nobody was listening to us.

HB: Y lo primero que se hizo es comenzar a visitar pueblos mineros.

BR: So we began to visit the mining people and communities.

HB: Por parte de una organización hermana nuestra se sacaban delegaciones para Honduras, para Valle de Siria.

BR: So through our organisations we began to visit other communities being affected by mining in Honduras, in the Valley of Siria.

HB: Llegabamos a ver los impactos de la minería como eran.

BR: So we could see the impact of mining and what was happening there.

HB: Y fuimos descubriendo lo peligroso para la vida que es esa actividad.

BR: So we began to discover how dangerous this was for life and the base of mining.

HB: Y fuimos, fuimos buscando más información o que alguien nos capacitará sobre el tema.

BR: So we went looking for more information and tried to educate ourselves about mining.

HB: Antes en nuestras comunidades las empresas mineras andaban como andar por su casa.

BR: Before this, the mining companies went round our communities as if they were right in our own homes.

HB: Eran los que tenían el poder, eran quienes tenían la plata y andaban con buenos carros por todos lados.

BR: They got the power, the money, they drove around in nice cars.

HB: Las mejores fiestas de nuestro pueblo fueron cuando las empresas las pagaban.

BR: So the best parties and festivals in our towns were when the mining companies paid for them.

HB: Pagaban bebida de gratis, comida de gratis y mucha música.

BR: They provided free drinks, free food, free music – a lot of music.

HB: Claro, la gran mayoría de nuestra gente desconocía totalmente que era la minería.

BR: So, clearly most our people didn’t know a thing about mining.

HB: Pero además de eso reparaban los techos de la Iglesia.

BR: Besides that, they repaired the church roof.

HB: Pintaban las escuelas.

BR: They painted the schools.

HB: Regalaban anteojos para toda la gente.

BR: They gave glasses to everybody.

HB: Hacian fiestas infantiles.

BR: They had children’s festivals and parties.

HB: La Comunidad los adoraba, los quería.

BR: The communities adored them.

HB: Entonces hablar en contra de ellos era muy delicado.

BR: So to speak against them was rather delicate.

HB: Pero nosotros a la par tambien íbamos estudiando que es la minería.

BR: So alongside that we were still studying what the mining was about.

HB: Y ahí aprendimos que las empresas mineras cuando llegan a las comunidades hacen estudios socio-antropológicos que les permiten ver todas las debilidades de nuestras comunidades.

BR: So we discovered that these mining companies also do socio-anthropological studies to discover all the weaknesses of our communities.

HB: Entonces ellos llegan y comienzan a promover fiestas, regalos, para nuestras comunidades.

BR: So they come and they offered parties and gifts to our communities.

HB: Pero eso tiene una intención.

BR: So that comes with an intention.

HB: Es dividir la comunidad.

BR: To divide the community.

HB: Antes ellos debatían con nosotros abiertamente.

BR: Before that, they debated with us openly.

HB: Y nos llamaban ignorantes.

BR: And they called us ignorant.

HB: Que no tenemos estudios para decir si es bueno o malo.

BR: And we don’t have the studies or basis to say whether it’s good or bad.

HB: Todavía nos lo siguen diciendo solo que más elegante.

BR: So they keep saying that but now in a more elegant way.

HB: Pero hoy mucho tenemos ya conocimiento.

BR: So now we do have knowledge.

HB: Y sabemos que tipo de desarrollo es él que queremos.

BR: And we know what kind of development we want.

HB: Para el 2009, estaban las elecciones.

BR: In 2009, we had elections.

HB: Era el cambio de Gobierno.

BR: There was a change of government.

HB: Las empresas mineras han sido promovidas por el Gobierno de Arena.

BR: So the mining companies stepped in, promoted by the Arena government.

HB: Los Alcaldes nuestros eran promotores de Arena. De Arena y de la empresa Pacific Rim.

BR: Our Mayors were promoters serving Arena and also Pacific Rim.

HB: Promovían las actividades de la empresa.

BR: They promoted the activities and vision of the company.

HB: Los Alcaldes hablaban a favor de este desarrollo.

BR: So the mayors spoke in favour of this kind of development.

HB: Los sacerdotes locales de la Iglesia Católica también.

BR: The priests of the Roman Catholic Church, the local ones, also spoke in favour.

English Female: So when he is saying the mayor spoke, does he mean before the election or after the election?

BR: El Alcalde ¿antes o después de las elecciones?

HB: El actual es el mismo, no se ha logrado.

Recording Two

HB: El Dia del Niño, él se viste de payaso, de Cipitio de celebrar el Dia de los Niños.

BR: So on the Day of the Children, he would celebrate and dress as a clown or ‘de Cipitio’ a legendary figure, and celebrate with the children.

HB: La gente que tiene una necesidad va y lo busca.

BR: Anybody who had some need would look for him.

HB: Esas cualidades de él, lo habían llevado a ser el referente del FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation) a nivel departamental.

BR: So these qualities had led the FMLN to seek him out as the figure to go to at the departmental level.

HB: El es un líder natural.

BR: He’s a natural leader.

HB: Pues el desaparece de una reunión, no sabemos más nada de él.

BR: So he disappears for a meeting and we didn’t know anything more of what had happened to him.

HB: Lo buscamos la misma comunidad.

BR: So our own community searched for him.

HB: Hablamos con la policía, con el Ministro de Justicia y Seguridad de ese entonces Manuel Melgar.

BR: We spoke with the police, with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, Manuel Melgar.

HB: Que nos ayudará a buscar.

BR: And that they would help us search for him.

HB: Nadie nos hizo caso.

BR: No-one would take us seriously.

HB: Era la misma comunidad que salía a buscarlo.

BR: So our own community had to go out and looked for him.

HB: Todas las mañanas, todas las noches.

BR: Every day, morning and night.

HB: Efectivamente lo encontramos.

BR: Indeed we found him.

HB: Lo encontramos en un pozo de agua.

BR: They found him in a water well.

HB: Lo habían asesinado.

BR: They had assassinated him.

HB: Y lo habían asesinado de una forma que impactara a la comunidad.

BR: And they’d assassinated him in a way that would impact the community.

HB: Él estaba amarrado con nylon sus manos.

BR: He was tied up with nylon rope round his hands.

HB: Le habían quebrado su quijada y le habían metido la mano en la boca.

BR: So they broke his hand and thrust his hand in his mouth.

HB: Le habían arrancado las uñas de sus pies y las uñas de sus manos.

BR: So they had ripped off his toenails and fingernails.

HB: Mantenía las uñas de sus pies.

BR: Oh, he still had his toenails.

HB: Y había sido ultrajado.

BR: He’d been whipped very hard.

HB: Torturado, o sea.

BR: He’d been tortured.

HB: Fueron los hermanos de él, con otros amigos de la comunidad, en los que me incluyo.

BR: So his brothers and others from the community, including me.

HB: Quienes encontramos el cuerpo.

BR: Who found his body.

HB: La policía no quería sacar ese cuerpo.

BR: The police didn’t want to remove his body.

HB: Cuando ellos bajaron al pozo, dijeron que ahí no había nada.

BR: When they went into the well they said there was nothing there.

HB: Pero, una señora nos había confesado que ella vio que ahí estaba metido un cuerpo.

BR: But a woman had witnessed that there was a body there.

HB: La presión nuestra hizo que fueran a traer bomberos.

BR: Based on our pressure, they went to bring the fireman in.

HB: Y el bombero confirmo que allí había un cuerpo.

BR: And the firemen confirmed that yes, there was a body there.

HB: Al sacar el cuerpo, era el cuerpo de Marcelo.

BR: So when they pulled it out, they discovered that it was the body of Marcelo.

HB: Su hermano Miguel, quien me acompañaba.

BR: His brother Miguel who was accompanying me.

HB: Me decía que ese no era el cuerpo de su hermano, entro en una negación.

BR: So said that it wasn’t his brother’s body and he was denying it.

HB: Eso nos llevó a que hiciéramos el ADN del cuerpo.

BR: O sea a él le dijeron eso.

HB: Si, al hermano, el no Miguel me decía que no era el hermano. Lo que hice es, bueno yo quizás para explicarle un poco, he sido, soy abogado. He trabajado en la Corte Suprema de Justica por casi 9 años, y también fui investigado de delitos de cuello blanco en la policía.

BR: So Miguel himself was denying –

English Female: Miguel is the brother?

BR: Yes, and Hector is a lawyer who was working in the Supreme Court, investigating white collar crimes.

HB: Eh, fui cuota del FMLN para la policía nacional civil.

BR: So he was part of the FMLN component of civil national police.

HB: Entonces, por eso, Miguel, el hermano de Marcelo, me pedia que le ayudara a resolver eso que estaba pasando.

BR: So Miguel had asked me to help him in resolving this case.

HB: Entonces, gestionamos el ADN.

BR: So we went to investigate his DNA.

HB: Y cuando, hicimos el trámite en la ciudad de San Vicente, para hacerle el ADN, nosotros vimos el cuerpo de Marcelo.

BR: So when we went to do this test in San Vicente, we saw Marcelo’s body.

HB: Yo lo saque de la cámara fría que estaba.

BR: So I took him from the cold bed that he was in.

HB: El médico que hizo la autopsia me permitió verlo.

BR: So the physician who did the autopsy let me see him.

HB: Yo le pregunté en ese momento la causa de la muerte.

BR: So at that moment, I asked him what the cause of death was.

HB: Y él me dijo que era por asfixia.

BR: So he said it was for asphyxiation.

HB: Le habían quebrado la tráquea.

BR: They had broken the trachea.

HB: Y luego nos fuimos para San Salvador a pedir el ADN.

BR: So then we went to San Salvador for the results of the DNA test.

HB: A medicina legal.

BR: For forensic medicine.

HB: Y el Doctor Miguel Roso, amigo nuestro era jefe de esa unidad.

BR: So our friend Doctor Miguel Roso was head of that unit.

HB: El se comprometio en ayudarnos.

BR: He committed himself to helping us.

HB: Y inició el proceso de ADN.

BR: He initiated a DNA test process.

HB: Yo lo fui a visitar un día después.

BR: So I went to see him a day later.

HB: Y le pedia de favor que acelerara el proceso de la investigación.

BR: And asked him to accelerate the process of investigation.

HB: Y él me dijo, el me respondió, con gusto lo hiciera, pero el cuerpo de Marcelo ya no está en medicina legal.

BR: He said he would be glad to do that, but Marcelo’s body was no longer there for him.

HB: Hablé con el fiscal encargado del caso.

BR: So I spoke with the attorney responsible for the case.

HB: El fiscal me dijo que el cuerpo estaba todavia en la cámara fría.

BR: So he said the body was still in the cold chamber.

HB: El medico de medicina legal, me dijo desaparecieron el cuerpo.

BR: And the doctor from forensic medicine said they had disappeared with the body.

HB: Entonces no nos daban una respuesta.

BR: So we didn’t get a clear response.

HB: Hablé con algunos magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, que investigarán.

BR: So I spoke with some magistrates from the Supreme Court of Justice to investigate this.

HB: Ya que, como trabaja con alguno de ellos tenía ese contacto.

BR: So since I worked for some of them I had that contact.

HB: Con la doctora Mirla Perla.

BR: With Doctor Mirla Perla.

HB: Y ella confirmó la versión del médico, el cuerpo ya no estaba.

BR: And she confirmed the version of the doctor that the body was no longer there.

HB: El único que podía ordenar llevarse el cuerpo era el fiscal.

BR: The only one who could order the removal of the body was the attorney.

HB: Y el fiscal decía que no sabía.

BR: The prosecuting attorney I should say, and he said he didn’t know anything about it.

HB: Y no se sabe en ese momento quien ordenó, pero lo fueron a enterrar a una fosa común.

BR: So we don’t know who was responsible for this, but the body was found in a common grave.

HB: Ese día en la tarde me reuni con el fiscal y con el jefe de policía.

BR: So that afternoon I met with the prosecuting attorney and the police cheif.

HB: Me acompañan los dos hermanos de Marcelo Rivera.

BR: And both of Marcelo’s brothers accompanied me.

HB: Y ellos nos explican la muerte de Marcelo.

BR: So they explained Marcelo’s death to us.

HB: Y dicen que Marcelo fue muerto porque era homosexual.

BR: So they said that he was killed because he was homosexual.

HB: Que buscando sexo, es que se arriesgo y pasó lo que sucedió.

BR: So he was out looking for sex and he took a risk and that was what happened.

English Female: This was what the brothers were saying?

BR: This was the explanation that was given by the police chief and the prosecuting attorney to the brothers.

HB: Y nos dicen que le habían disparado con una arma de fuego.

BR: And that they had shot him with a weapon, a gun.

HB: Que Marcelo se había luchado con los jóvenes.

BR: That Marcelo had struggled with the youths.

HB: Entonces cuando sacamos el cuerpo de Marcelo, Marcelo tiene unas heridas en su cabeza.

BR: So when they took the body out, he had some wounds on his hands.

HB: Entonces yo le pregunto sobre las heridas al fiscal.

BR: So he asked the prosecuting attorney about the wounds.

HB: Me dice el fiscal, Santiago Hernández.

BR: So the prosecuting attorney, Santiago Hernández.

HB: Hay que como él era muy fuerte le pegaron con un martillo.

BR: So because he was very strong, they hit him with a hammer.

HB: Pero yo se, tengo ese conocimiento, que el martillo genera un golpe contuso.

BR: The hammer would produce a different type of wound.

HB: Es más a más fuerza es para abajo, es un hoyo.

BR: So it would form a hole, and the impact would be downward.

HB: Y esas eran unas líneas.

BR: And these were lines.

HB: Le sigo preguntando, digo

BR: So they keep asking him.

HB: Entonces, ¿como es que muere Marcelo?

BR: How did Marcelo die?

HB: Y me dice que Marcelo se va herido huyendo y va a morir lejos.

BR: So he was trying to escape wounded and he made it quite a distance.

HB: Que luego los jóvenes lo encuentran y por eso es que lo atan y lo tiran.

BR: So that’s why they grabbed him and tied him up, and threw him in the well.

HB: Yo le digo a él que tiene muchas contradicciones.

BR: So they said this is full of contradictions.

HB: Primero que la escena del crimen no se ve improvisada.

BR: First of all, we see that the scene of the crime has been improvised.

HB: Cuando sacamos a Marcelo sacamos guantes de látex que usan los médicos con los que estuvieron trabajando quienes le metieron ahí.

BR: So we found latex gloves that the physicians used and those were there at the scene when they put him in the well.

HB: Le digo que las uñas de Marcelo de sus manos, no las tiene.

BR: So he didn’t have his fingernails.

HB: Me dice el fiscal que por la humedad del pozo las boto.

BR: So the prosecuting attorney said that it was because of the humidity of the well that he lost his nails.

HB: Le digo yo que las de los pies las tiene.

BR: But he said, well his toenails are still there?

HB: Cuando uno comienza a descomponerse lo hace en círculo y comienza por el estómago de manera circular que es uniforme.

BR: So when a body starts to decompose it happens in circles starting with the stomach and happens uniformly in concentric circles.

HB: Le planteo que no, su hipótesis no es creíble.

BR: So his hypothesis was not believable.

HB: Sin embargo, le digo que nos de unos días antes de que el haga publico esto.

BR: So they asked that they give us a few days before making this public.

HB: Porque queremos recuperar el cuerpo de Marcelo.

BR: We wanted to recover Marcelo’s body.

HB: Y la mama está muy enferma sufriendo por la perdida.

BR: And his mother very ill, suffering from her loss.

HB: Eso fue en San Salvador a las 4 de la tarde.

BR: That was in San Salvador at 4pm.

HB: Nos veníamos trasladando en vehículo luego de San Salvador para acá.

BR: So then we brought him from San Salvador to here.

HB: Y me llaman por teléfono y me dicen que en las noticas de las 6 de la tarde hay conferencia de prensa de la Fiscalia y la policía diciendo las causas de la muerte de Marcelo.

BR: So they are saying that in the 6 o’clock news, there was a press conference, where the police chief and the prosecuting attorney are explaining the death of Marcelo.

HB: Lo que el Fiscal no sabe que, en mis manos yo ya tengo el borrador de la autopsia del médico.

BR: So the prosecuting attorney didn’t realise that I already had the rough draft of the physician who had done the autopsy.

HB: Que establece las causas de la muerte.

BR: That explained the cause of death.

HB: Y dice que es por asfixia.

BR: And that was because of asphyxiation.

HB: Y dice que las cortaduras en su cabeza son post-mortem

BR: And the wounds in his head are post-mortem.

HB: Las hizo el bombero cuando comenzó a buscar el cuerpo.

BR: So those were caused by the firemen searching for the body.

HB: Y no tiene ningún impacto de bala.

BR: And he has no bullet wound.

HB: Y eso lo digo publico, nos lleva a una confrontación.

BR: So that was all made public, so we were having this confrontation.

HB: Pero además nosotros hemos investigado, en el caso concreto yo investigue él caso de Marcelo por nuestra via.

BR: So we had also investigated concretely the case of Marcelo through our own means.

HB: Y tengo testigos que estuvieron en la cárcel donde estuvieron los autores materiales del asesinato de Marcelo.

BR: So we have witnesses in la cárcel?

HB: En la cárcel, en la cárcel.

BR: In the prison where the material authors of the murder of Marcelo was also present.

HB: Donde estos confesaron la cantidad de dinero y las armas que les dieron por asesinar a Marcelo.

BR: Where they explained how much money they were paid and the weapons they were given to assassinate Marcelo.

HB: Encontré un lugar donde se hayo la evidencia donde lo estuvieron torturando a Marcelo.

BR: So I found the place and the weapons they were using to torture Marcelo.

HB: Eso se lo informe al Director de Inteligencia de la Policía Nacional Civil, a nivel nacional.

BR: So I explained this to the head of the investigating department of the Civil National Police at the national level.

HB: Al comisionado Howard Cotton.

BR: To the commissioner Howard Cotton.

HB: Y él me dijo que dejara de estar entorpeciendo la investigación.

BR: And he told me to stop interfering with the investigation.

HB: A la fecha no hay capturados por la autoría intelectual del asesinato de Marcelo.

BR: So to date, there have been no arrests made in terms of the intellectual author of the death of Marcelo.

HB: Solo se capturo a un grupo de jóvenes que fueron quienes lo asesinaron.

BR: Only the youths have been arrested who were sent to assassinate Marcelo.

HB: Coincidencia en el 2009 entran a mi casa en la madrugada estando mi esposa y mi hija en la segunda planta.

BR: So a coincidence in 2009, they enter my house where my wife and children are present on the second story.

HB: Nos ponen un, nos ponen un químico que nos, nos durmió, a mí me durmió pero estaba consciente, o sea sentía lo que estaba pasando.

BR: So they planted a chemical there that put me to sleep, but I was still aware of what was happening.

HB: El tipo que entra a la habitación nuestra orina en el baño que tenemos ahí.

BR: So they guy who headed the room, urinated in the bathroom that we have there.

HB: Amordazan a mi esposa y a mí.

BR: He gagged my wife and myself.

HB: Nos dejan en la parte de arriba.

BR: He left us above.

HB: Y se roban los celulares, las USB, las dos cámaras de video, una cámara fotográfica, el CPU, toda la documentación, una caja donde tenía la vinculación de los alcaldes y la empresa.

BR: So they stole my cell phone, two video cameras, another camera, USB memory sticks and my files that had the evidence and connections between the mining company and the local politicians.

HB: Nos destruyen toda la parte de la parte baja de nuestra casa, la destruyen.

BR: They destroyed the whole lower floor of our house.

HB: Y nos dejan señales, como fotografías de mi hija con una caricutara de Bob Esponja, y me ponen con tiza para lustrar zapatos, en medio de la foto ‘que Dios te Bendiga’.

BR: So they left photos of my daughters with SpongeBob –

HB: Que Dios te Bendiga, con betún con lo que se lustra, me pusieron en el piso, la foto de mi hija, una caricatura y en medio me pusieron ‘Que Dios te Bendiga’ y abajo una de Monseñor Romero.

BR: And then below that a photo of Monseñor Romero and God bless you, with pictures on the floor – it was a sinister threat.

HB: Para nosotros fue algo muy fuerte.

BR: For us this was something very strong.

HB: Para la guerra, quizás por mi edad, muy pocas veces tuve miedo.

BR: Because of the war and my age, I seldom felt fear.

HB: Porque no comprendía realmente el mismo hecho, que yo era un niño adentro una guerra.

BR: Because as a child I didn’t feel the reality of war.

HB: Pero esa noche, esa noche si tuve mucho miedo.

BR: But that night I really experienced real fear.

HB: Por mi esposa y por mi hija.

BR: For my wife and my daughter.

HB: Mi hija tenía meses de nacida.

BR: So my daughter was just a few months old.

HB: Al trabajar en la Corte y trabajar para un Magistrado de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, me mandaron seguridad en cuestión rápido, un vecino me auxilio con un teléfono.

BR: So because of having worked for the Supreme Court and working for a magistrate of the Supreme Court, they sent security right away and a neighbour assisted me with the phone.

HB: Llegó la policía, la seguridad de la Corte, y no encontraron nada.

BR: So the police came and the Court magistrate didn’t find anything.

HB: En esa colonia donde yo vivía era privado, había seguridad por las entradas.

BR: So in that area of the neighbourhood where I lived there were security at both ends of the street.

HB: La seguridad dice que no vio entrar ni salir nada.

BR: And they said that they hadn’t seen anyone enter or leave.

HB: Efectivamente los tipos entraron con una llave a la casa.

BR: So evidently the people had a key to enter the house.

HB: A la fecha no sabemos quién fue.

BR: To date, we don’t know who it was.

HB: El laboratorio científico de la PNC dice que ellos habían usado guantes de latex para no dejar huellas.

BR: So the police investigation said that they used latex gloves so as not to leave fingerprints.

HB: Alli comencé a comprender que, en el problema que me había metido.

BR: So then I began to understand the problem that I had got myself into.

HB: De ese hecho a la fecha, como familia tenemos, como alrededor de tres atentados.

BR: From that day to the present, we’ve had three attacks against our family.

HB: Tenemos medidas cautelares de la omisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos.

BR: So we have protective measures provided for us by the Inter American Court for Human Rights.

HB: Tenemos seguridad permanente en nuestra casa.

BR: We have permanent security at the house.

HB: El año pasado, antes de llegar a la casa mi esposa es interceptada en un carro de último modelo y le es robado todo su caso, sus documentos, todo.

BR: So last year my wife was intercepted coming home and all of her belongings were stolen.

HB: Todo lo que nos ha pasado lo hemos denunciado en la Fiscalía General de la República.

BR: Everything that has happened to us we have denounced to the attorney general.

HB: En este último caso un vecino nuestro tiene cámaras de video.

BR: With this latest case, the neighbour has a video.

HB: Allí quedo grabado el hecho de que le robaron los documentos, tarjetas del banco y un expediente que ella llevaba.

BR: So it’s all there on video, what they stole; her documents, all the files that she was carrying with her.

HB: Al dia siguiente encontramos, nosotros, las tarjetas del banco.

BR: The bank cards we found.

HB: Cerquita de nuestra casa.

BR: Close to the house.

HB: Pero no encontramos ni el expediente, ni sus documentos.

BR: But we couldn’t find her personal documents or the files.

HB: Ni a la fecha la Fiscalía no nos toma una declaración.

BR: And to date the attorney general or the prosecutor hasn’t taken a declaration from us.

HB: El muro de la impunidad en este país es muy grueso.

BR: The wall of impunity here in this country is very thick.

HB: Hay mucho porque luchar.

BR: We have a lot to fight for.

HB: En el 2009, igual un empleado de la empresa Pacific Rim, le dispara a un activista contra la minería en la zona de Maraña.

BR: In 2009 one of the employees of Pacific Rim –

HB: Un empleado de la empresa Pacific Rim a Ramiro Rivera.

BR: shot Ramiro Rivera

HB: Él es de la colonia Maraña, de la comunidad Maraña. Si, aquí en este departamento.

Matin Mowforth (MM): ¿No es el hermano de Marcelo?

HB: No, no es un hermano. Tienen el mismo apellido pero no son hermanos.

BR: He’s not Marcelo’s brother, he has the same last name, but he’s not related.

HB: A este señor le asigna dos guardaespaldas, dos policías.

BR: So they assigned two police bodyguards to this guy.

English Female: In what context was he shot?

BR: ¿Y en qué contexto le dispararon?

HB: En el 2009 después de las elecciones todo lo que estoy contando pasa después de las elecciones que gana el FMLN.

BR: So after the 2009 elections.

HB: Se dan una serie de ataques a activistas.

BR: Won by the FMLN there was a whole series of attacks against activists.

HB: A el, le asignan dos policías.

BR: So two policemen were assigned to him as bodyguards.

HB: Es el 20 de Diciembre. Molinar ¿Qué fecha fue 20 o, si 20 de Diciembre que lo asesinan? ¿A Ramiro?

Spanish Male (Molinar): 22.

HB: 22. El 22 de Diciembre él va en su vehículo con un amigo y los dos guardaespaldas.

BR: So the 22nd of December he was in his car with a friend and the two bodyguards.

English Male: So is he the Pacific Rim employee?

BR: No, he was shot by the Pacific Rim employee.

English Male: And who is he, sorry?

MM: He’s an anti-mining activist.

HB: El se recupera del primer disparo.

BR: He recovers from the first shot.

HB: Y luego le asignan guardaespaldas, policías.

BR: And then the assigned bodyguards, two policemen.

HB: Ya andando con ellos, en el mes de Diciembre del 2009, antes de llegar a su casa, es ametrallado con fusiles 5.56 que son de uso privativo de las fuerzas armadas.

BR: So he was shot travelling with his friend on the 22nd December 2009, he was shot by a machine gun 5.56, which is used by the military.

HB: Asesinan a Ramiro en esa fecha.

BR: So they assassinated him on this occasion.

English Female: With the bodyguards in the car?

BR: Con los guardaespaldas dentro del carro?

HB: O sea la capacidad de fuego de fusiles superan a la capacidad de las pistolas de los guardaespaldas.

BR: So the power of the weapon that was used to kill Ramiro, was greater than the power in the pistols used by the bodyguards, the firepower.

HB: El 26 de Diciembre del 2009, asesinan a Dora Alicia Sorto.

BR: And on the 26th December, Dora Alicia Sorto is assassinated.

HB: En la zona de Maraña.

BR: In the Maraña area.

HB: Ella es una activista también contra la empresa minera.

BR: She’s an activist too against the mining company.

HB: Y ella tiene 8 meses de embarazo.

BR: She’s 8 months pregnant.

HB: Por lo que le paso a Ramiro había mucha policía en la zona.

BR: Because of what had happened to Ramiro there were a lot of police in the zone.

HB: Ella viene del rio, de lavar.

BR: She came from washing clothes at the river.

HB: Trae a su niño de dos años en brazos.

BR: She was carrying her two year old child in her arms.

HB: Y su guacal de ropa.

BR: And her bag of clothes.

HB: Hubo alguien que paso en medio de la policía.

BR: So she walked in front of the police

HB: Y le asesto alrededor 4 disparos en su estómago y uno en el pecho.

BR: And they shot her with four shots in her stomach and one in her chest.

MM: ¿La policía?

HB: No, la policía no se fijó quien era.

BR: The police didn’t notice who it was.

English Female: Just going back to the first guy, what happened to the Pacific Rim, was this the security guard, or the guy who was initially shot by the Pacific Rim employee. That’s the context I want to understand; was there like a protest or did somebody just walk up and shoot him?

BR: ¿Y que, que paso con el empleado de Pacific Rim? ¿Disparo y porque?

HB: Él le hace un disparo a Ramiro por la espalda, y se va a huir.

BR: So he shot him in the back and then fled.

HB: No lo capturaron, no, él se fue, pero Ramiro lo identifico dijo quien era.

BR: Ramiro identified him and knew who he was. ¿Por nombre?

HB: Si por nombre lo dijo, o sea que el al primer atentado sobrevive.

BR: So he survived the first attack and knew who it was by name, yes.

HB: En el segundo es que ya no.

BR: And the second he didn’t survive.

English Female: And what happened to the Pacific Rim employee?

BR: ¿no le paso nada el empleado?

HB: No, sabemos que esta por el país.

BR: We know he’s out the country.

HB: Pero paralelo a esto, a todos los periodistas de Radio Victoria los han amenazado que los van a matar.

BR: Besides this, all the journalists from the Radio Victoria have been threatened and that they will be killed as well.

HB: Llegan a sus casas y dejan los anónimos o les mandan cartas a los padres de los jóvenes diciéndoles lo que les va a pasar.

BR: So they send anonymous notes to their homes or to their parents telling them what will happen to them.

Spanish Female: Vamos a pasar por allí estos días.

HB: Jajaja, ahí les van a contar.

BR: So we’re going to Radio Victoria after lunch.

HB: Entonces ellos también sufren esa campaña de terror.

BR: So they suffer this terror campaign as well.

HB: Todo eso pasa en el 2009.

BR: That was all in 2009.

HB: Es una presión muy fuerte hacia nosotros.

BR: There was very big pressure against us.

HB: Se rompe la paz que vivíamos en esta comunidad.

BR: So that broke the peace that we were used to living with within this community.

HB: La grande coincidencia que todos somos activistas en contra de la empresa Pacific Rim.

BR: So it leaves the impression that we are all activists against the Pacific Rim company.

HB: Después de ser un pueblo, que casi no tenía violencia, se generaron hechos de violencia muy fuerte.

BR: From being a community that hardly ever experienced violence, we became a community that began to suffer a lot of violent incidents.

Spanish Male: No sé si le podría explicar un poco de las elecciones.

HB: Ah si, si, si.

Spanish Female: Explicar un poco también de, de las cosas con la policía.

HB: Si, hay mucho que hablar y muy poco tiempo.

Spanish Male: Porque ellos vienen como observadores, sabe.

HB: Si, para otro hecho que se da en el 2009 aca.

BR: So another thing that happened, this is something I’m asking him to explain that happened with the elections in 2009.

HB: Es que se celebrar las elecciones. Y acá, se paran todas las elecciones a nivel local, por municipio.

BR: So in 2009 we were celebrating the elections, and here locally the elections were stopped.

HB: Nosotros eramos parte de la estructura del FMLN.

BR: We were part of the FMLN structure.

HB: Defendiendo el voto.

BR: Defending the vote.

HB: Yo era el jefe de centro del FMLN.

BR: So I was the FMLN chief at the voting centre.

HB: Y siempre nos gana ARENA.

BR: And ARENA always wins here.

HB: Pero nadie quiere al Alcalde.

BR: But nobody wants the mayor.

HB: ¿Y entonces como lo gana?

BR: So how does he win?

HB: Y descubrimos que trae camiones y picas de hondureños.

BR: So we realised that he was bringing truckloads and pick-up trucks full of Hondurans to come and vote here.

HB: Y las cajas que les digo de documentos que me robaron, era esa caja con esos documentos.

BR: And the box of documents that they stole from me was precisely that box of documents.

HB: Nosotros llegábamos con la cámara de video cuando la gente estaba votando.

BR: We came with the videocamera when the people were voting.

HB: Y le decíamos ¿tu dónde vives?

BR: And asked them where did they live?

HB: Y no sabían responder.

BR: And they didn’t know what to say.

HB: ¿Quién es tu familia?

BR: Where is your family? They didn’t know how to answer.

HB: No sabían responder. Pero esto era una fila de hombres y mujeres con camisas del partido de ellos.

BR: There was a long line up of people in ARENA t-shirts.

HB: Y le decíamos muéstreme su identificación y nos sacaban las tarjetas de Honduras.

BR: So they asked for their ID and they would pull out ID from Honduras.

HB: Eso lo documentamos.

BR: So we documented all of that.

HB: Y entonces los que están aquí, todos los compañeros que están, como otros que faltan, decidimos tomarnos el pueblo y suspender las elecciones.

BR: So we decided to take the town and to suspend the election process here.

HB: Quizás no era el acto más correcto.

BR: Perhaps it wasn’t the most correct act or action.

HB: Pero quizás para nuestra dignidad era necesario denunciar y evidenciar lo que estaba pasando.

BR: But for our own dignity it was necessary to take evidence and make it clear what was going on.

HB: Y lo paramos, paramos las elecciones, fue noticia a nivel nacional.

BR: So we stopped the election and that was national news on the national level.

HB: Y mostrábamos las pruebas.

BR: And we showed the evidence.

HB: Entonces lo que volvieron a hacer es a repetir las elecciones.

BR: So they repeated the elections here.

HB: Pero eso ya fue en otras condiciones.

BR: In other conditions.

HB: Metieron miles de policías en este pueblo.

BR: Thousands of police came to this town.

HB: Y varios de los lideres locales andábamos como policías a cargo para que no fueran a hacer nada.

BR: So a lot of us locally too, as if we were police to make sure that nothing would happen.

HB: Y aunque nosotros denunciamos a los hondureños de venir a votar aca.

BR: And even though we denounced the Hondurans who came to vote here.

HB: El Tribunal Supremo Electoral jamás los saco de la lista.

BR: The Supreme Electoral Tribunal never removed them from the voters list.

HB: El padrón. Entonces, había muchos observadores como ustedes ese día acá.

BR: And a lot of observers like you were here that day.

HB: Y la cúpula de ARENA, aquí estaba ese dia.

BR: And also all the heads of the ARENA party.

HB: La cúpula a nivel nacional.

BR: And the national leaders of the ARENA party.

HB: A ellos les interesa mucho este municipio.

BR: They were very interested in this municipality.

HB: No por los 11,000 habitantes.

BR: Not for the 11,000 inhabitants.

HB: Porque no alcanzan ni para un diputado.

BR: We don’t even have enough people for one congress person.

HB: Pero si por el negocio que puede haber.

BR: But because of the business that could happen here.

HB: Ese dia ganaron nuevamente ellos.

BR: So that day they won again.

HB: No podíamos hacer nada.

BR: We couldn’t do anything.

HB: Y todos los que estaban en el padrón podían votar.

BR: And everything was in the voters lists.

HB: Votar, ejercer el sufragio.

BR: Oh, they could all vote.

English Female: Was the ruling because they were born in Salvador and living in Honduras like it’s been allowed in this election?

BR: ¿Se lo permitieron porque habían nacido aquí?

HB: No.

Spanish Female: No, no habían nacido aqui.

HB: No, o sea lo que se hace, o hacían, hoy no sé, pero hacia el 2009, lo que ellos hacían, como somos país, departamento fronterizo con Honduras, ellos tienen comunidades aliadas.

BR: So what would happen is that because we are a neighbouring department to Honduras they have allied communities.

HB: La gente nos decían que les pagaban a algunos 50, a otros 25 dólares por venir a votar.

BR: They were paid 25-50 dollars to come and vote.

HB: Más la comida.

English Woman: So, on what basis did this new electoral tribunal say that they were allowed to vote, make a ruling before the next election?

BR: Porque el Tribunal dice que si pueden votar ¿Por qué permiten eso?

HB: Ah, es porque el padrón es preparado por las Juntas receptoras locales.

BR: So the voting list is prepared by the local voting committee.

HB: Y acá, como el Alcalde ha gobernado eso, el con mucha anticipación se prepara y prepara estas comunidades.

BR: The mayor with a lot of event time worked with these committees to prepare the lists.

HB: Y lo que hace es agregar estos nombres, los agrega como si son de este pueblo.

BR: So they had them as if they were from this town.

HB: Y les otorga el DUI.

BR: And he gives them a document.

HB: El documento único de identidad.

BR: A unique identity document as if they were from this town and could vote here.

HB: Y la ley dice que si apareces en el padrón electoral, y si tienes DUI, pues puedes votar.

BR: So the law says that if they appear on the voters list and they have the corresponding ID, then they can vote.

HB: Aunque no seas Salvadoreño, pero si tu apareces en el padrón y tienes DUI, puedes votar.

BR: Even though you’re not Salvadoran, but if your document matches up with the voters list, then you can vote.

HB: Aquí ha habido un esfuerzo por limpiar ese padrón.

BR: It was in an effort to clean up that voters list.

HB: Yo ya no, nosotros ya no nos metemos en eso.

BR: We don’t get involved with that any more.

HB: Hemos luchado mucho, pero creo que los partidos políticos muchas veces no les interesa eso.

BR: We struggle a lot, but the parties aren’t so interested in that.

Male English Voice: Can you ask him if the international observers here saw any of this going on, or was there a report about it or was it just something that he and other people noticed that the observers just didn’t have enough knowledge to know about it?

BR: Pregunta si los observadores internacionales se fijaron en eso también para no, ¿existe un informe?

HB: Existe un informe.

[Many voices talking over each other]

Spanish Female: De los observadores aquí, en este tiempo.

HB: Si que con Leslie, tenemos años ya trabajando.

BR: We have worked with Leslie for years so they have a report.

HB: Y con el actual procurador de Derechos Humanos.

BR: And what the current ombudsman –

HB: El vino aquí a visitarnos.

BR: He has come and visited us.

HB: Es amigo personal

BR: He is a personal friend of mine

HB: Y él era como Delegado de las organizaciones de Derecho Humanos, para ver los centros de votación.

BR: He was the one responsible for looking at the Human Rights aspect of the voters.

HB: Nosotros ya sabíamos a lo que íbamos.

BR: We knew what we were doing.

HB: Y con Marcelo Rivera, y otros compañeros, tomamos el acuerdo que si nuevamente mirábamos llegar a todos los hondureños, donde llegaban ellos íbamos a pitar y íbamos a comenzar a denunciar. De repente en todas las mesas receptoras de voto estábamos pitando, estaban en todos lados.

BR: So with Marcelo Rivera and other people, we decided what to do. If we noticed that foreign Honduran voters were coming to vote then we would blow the whistle, so that’s what we did; we went around blowing the whistle.

HB: Nos amenazó la policía para que habilitaremos el centro de votación.

BR: The police threatened us so that we would reopen the voting centre.

HB: Nosotros corríamos el riesgo.

BR: We were running a risk.

HB: Lo que queríamos era denunciar lo que sucede en este pueblo.

BR: We wanted to denounce what was happening in this town.

HB: Es un pueblo aparentemente muy pacifico.

BR: It appears to be a very tranquil community

HB: Pero con intereses muy fuertes.

BR: But with very strong interests

HB: Ustedes van a estar de observadores.

BR: You’re going to be oberservers.

HB: Para nosotros es muy importante estas elecciones.

BR: For us, these elections are very important.

HB: El FMLN, es la esperanza de mucha gente de aquí.

BR: The FMLN is the hope of many people here.

HB: Pero este FMLN, no ha querido comprometerse con prohibir la minería.

BR: But this FMLN has not wanted to commit itself to prohibiting mining.

HB: Maricio Funes se comprometió.

BR: Maricio Funes committed himself.

HB: Hoy el FMLN no nos quiere defender.

BR: So now the FMLN doesn’t want to tend to this issue.

HB: Y el problema es que la industria minera está en todo el continente.

BR: So the problem is that the mining industry is in the whole continent.

HB: Gobiernos de Derecha e Izquierda le apuestan al desarrollo del extractivismo.

BR: So the governments of the left and the right have gotten involved in this activism for mining promotion.

HB: Nosotros fuimos a buscar, personalmente, a los candidatos que tienen mayores posibilidades.

BR: So we personally went to look for the candidates who have greater possibilities.

HB: Conseguimos 20,000 dólares para un foro que ellos discutieran y fijaran la posición frente al pueblo en el tema.

BR: So we raised 20,000 dollars to set up a forum where they could pursue what the results might be in terms of local mining.

HB: Ni ARENA, ni Unidad, ni el FMLN quiso discutir públicamente el tema.

BR: So ARENA, nor FMLN, nor Unidad wanted to publicly discuss the mining issue.

HB: No se quieren comprometer con temas estratégicos.

BR: They don’t want to commit themselves to strategic themes.

HB: Eso es muy grave.

BR: This is very serious.

HB: Países como Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras tienen la apuesta del Desarrollo Económico sobre explotaciones minerales.

BR: Countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras have strategic plans in terms of mining development.

HB: Y los ambientalistas son perseguidos en esos países.

BR: And environmentalists are persecuted in those countries.

HB: Yo soy una persona de Izquierda.

BR: I am a person of the left.

HB: Nací, y crecí dentro de la Izquierda.

BR: I was born and raised in the left.

HB: Ayer en una entrevista de radio les decía, a quienes me entrevistaban, el FMLN debe de firmar una ley que prohíba la minería.

BR: So I said on a radio interview yesterday to the person interviewing me, that the FMLN should sign a law preventing metallic mining.

HB: Porque? Porque de seguro las comunidades nos vamos a seguir organizando y luchando en la calle, independientemente quien llegue a la presidencia.

BR: Because certainly we as local communities will continue to organise and protest in the streets, it doesn’t matter who wins the election, we will continue to protest mining.

HB: El derecho a un futuro trasciende cualquier ideología.

BR: So our future transcends whatever ideology.

HB: En este país no existe condiciones para seguir viviendo.

BR: In this country, we don’t have conditions which guarantee our continuing life.

HB: Pero los Gobiernos y los Diputados le siguen la plana a Estados Unidos.

BR: But the governments and legislators continue with the plans of the United States.

HB: Aquí se aprobó el Asocio para el Crecimiento.

BR: Here it was approved the agreement ofGrowth.

HB: El Asocio público-privado.

BR: The agreement of private-public enterprise.

HB: Se incrementan las políticas del tratado de libre comercio.

BR: The free trade agreements are enlarged or expanded.

HB: Se firma el convenio con la Comunidad Europea.

BR: The agreement with the European Union was signed.

HB: Pero han sido incapaces de firmar una ley que garantice el derecho humano al agua.

BR: But they haven’t signed a law that would guarantee a right to water for the population.

HB: Este país no tiene ley que regule el derecho humano al agua.

BR: This country has no law that regulates water usage and supply.

HB: No tiene ley que asegure la alimentación adecuada de nuestro pueblo.

BR: We don’t have a law that assures the population of an adequate food supply.

English Woman: But doesn’t that come under human rights? That’s not in the constitution, is that the issue?

BR: ¿Si no se incluye eso como parte de los Derechos Humanos? ¿Pero no está en la constitución?

HB: No es, hemos planteado nosotros el movimiento social con el procurador de Derechos Humanos, planteamos estas propuestas de ley y la reforma constitucional.

BR: So we’ve proposed these changes to the law as constitutional reform.

HB: Y no la quieren discutir.

BR: And they don’t want to discuss it.

HB: Eso nos da señal a nosotros que tenemos que seguir resistiendo.

BR: So that’s the signal to us that we have to continue resisting.

HB: Independientemente quien este en el Gobierno.

BR: Independently of who is in government.

HB: Pareciera que tener cierta ideología es todo bueno o es todo malo.

BR: It would seem that having a certain ideology is all good or all bad.

HB: Pero aquí estamos interesados en sobrevivencia.

BR: But here we’re more interested in survival.

HB: Pero no solo nosotros: Guatemala resiste, Honduras resiste.

BR: But not only us: Guatemala resists, Honduras resists.

HB: Pero ustedes también, tengo amigos de ustedes que resisten contra la Texaco, contra la Chevron que contamina sus lagos.

BR: So I have friends amongst you too that resist against Texaco, against Chevron, that pollute your lakes.

HB: Estamos en un momento que debemos de unirnos.

BR: We are at a moment where we should unite.

HB: Debe de prevalecer la solidaridad de los pueblos que garantice la vida de las presentes y futuras generaciones.

BR: So solidarity should prevail that would guarantee the life of future generations.

HB: O sean las transnacionales que succionan tu sangre o son tus hijos y tus nietos.

BR: Or it may be the transnationals who suck the blood of our children and grandchildren.

HB: Uno puede pensar que solo aquí sucede esto.

BR: One can’t believe that only happens here.

HB: En el mismo 2009 en México las empresas mineras asesinaron a Mariano Abarca Robledo después de presentar una denuncia formal.

BR: In Mexico in 2009, they assassinated this activist after presenting a lawsuit.

HB: En Chicomoxuelo en Diciembre del 2009, asesinan a la líder Betty Cariño quien anda, en lugar de guardaespaldas, anda dos extranjeros que son quienes la acompañan para su protección.

BR: In December 2009 too, they assassinated Betty who didn’t have two armed bodyguards, but two international accomplices to protect her.

HB: El modus operandi de las empresas es lo mismo.

BR: The modus operandi of the companies is the same.

HB: No les interesa la vida de los seres humanos.

BR: They are not interested in human rights.

HB: No existe tal responsabilidad social.

BR: The social responsibility does not exist.

HB: Por eso es necesario que prevalezca el amor, mostrado en la solidaridad de los pueblos.

BR: So that’s why the love of solidarity needs to prevail among the people.

HB: Es necesario definir en este momento a que prevalezca el derecho al futuro de las niñas y niños de nuestros pueblos.

BR: It’s important to ensure that the right to life for our children prevails.

HB: Hoy ya no te demanda un estado a otro estado a nivel internacional.

BR: Now they don’t send you from one state to another at the international level.

HB: Acá en este país las empresas transnacionales nos han demanda en el CIADI, empresas al estado.

BR: So now its here, in this country the company has a lawsuit against the state.

HB: Uno puede creer que la empresa Pacific Rim se esta debilitando.

BR: One should think that the Pacific Rim company is weakening.

HB: Pero ellos también creen en la solidaridad.

BR: They too believe in solidarity.

HB: Y llaman a una empresa mas grande.

BR: And they call in a bigger company.

HB: Y traen a Oceana Gold que viene a oxigenar económicamente, especialista en conflictos sociales.

BR: So they call in Oceana Gold to help them to energise them, a specialist in social conflict, so they invite them to come and support the struggle.

HB: En otras palabras, tenemos mucho porque seguir luchando.

BR: So in other words, we have a lot of reason to continue struggling.

English Woman: So I just have a question here – you say there is no law here prohibiting mining, but I thought there was some sort of moratorium that was passed and that was the reason for the lawsuit.

BR: Dice que no hay una ley en contra de la minería, pero ella tenía la idea de que si hubo un moratorio, algo previniendo la explotación y por eso está la demanda.

HB: No, hay una ley que permite la minería en este país.

BR: No, there is a law that permits mining in this country.

HB: Lo que hizo el presidente Funes es, exigir los requisitos administrativos a las empresas.

BR: What I said was that the administrative requirements be completed by these companies.

HB: Para seguir haciendo los procesos de exploración.

BR: In order to be able to continue with the exploration processes.

HB: Según el Ministro de Economía, Armando Flores, ninguna ha presentado los requisitos necesarios para hacerlo.

BR: So according to the environment minister Armando Flores, none of them have completed those requirements.

HB: Lo que la empresa Pacific Rim y la Commerce Group utilizó para demandarnos a nivel Internacional es que Funes ha dejado, no permite a ellos pasar a la otra etapa que es la de explotación.

BR: So what the Pacific Rim and Commerce Group are basing their case on is that Funes had not allowed them to move onto the exploitation phase.

HB: Y se apean al tratado de libre comercio.

BR: And they base their claim on the free trade agreements.

HB: El cual en el capítulo 10 sobre inversiones, permite demandarnos por lo que ellos dejaron de ganar.

BR: So it allows them on the basis of clause 10 that they can launch a lawsuit on their lost profits.

HB: Ellos han distribuido las ganancias del 100%, el 2% es para el Estado del Salvador.

BR: So according to their arrangements, of their profits 2% would be for El Salvador.

HB: O sea que de un dólar, un centavo es para este Municipio y un centavo es para el Gobierno.

BR: So for one dollar, one cent would be for this municipality and one cent would be for the Federal Government.

HB: Pero aclarar que a nosotros no nos interesa esa ganancia.

BR: But just to clarify, we are not interested in that earning.

HB: A nosotros nos interesa cuidar el rio y la poquita agua que está, que no se vaya a contaminar.

BR: So we’re concerned about protecting the river and the little water we have and not contaminating it.

HB: Para sacar, para sacar el oro del subsuelo necesitan hacer ciudades aquí abajo donde estamos sentados.

BR: So not only to draw the water out of the subsoil, they would need to make cities from where we are sitting.

HB: Sacar toneladas de roca.

BR: Withdrawing thousands of tonnes of rock.

HB: Luego esta roca la hacen como arena.

BR: And they make it like sand.

HB: La bañan con cianuro.

BR: And they wash it away with cyanide.

HB: Y el cianuro se despega de la roca, hace que el oro se depegue de la roca.

BR: And that causes the gold to dislodge from the rock.

HB: Pero para eso es necesario utilizar mucha agua.

BR: But that process requires a lot of water.

HB: Lo que una familia consume en un año, ellos lo consumen en un día.

BR: What a family would consume in one year, they would use in one day.

HB: Pero además nos dejan todo eso contaminado.

BR: But besides, they leave us contaminated water.

HB: El cianuro es un químico altamente toxico.

BR: Cyanide is an extremely toxic chemical.

HB: Utilizado en países industriales bajo estrictas condiciones de seguridad.

BR: So in industrialised countries it is used under very strict conditions and rigorous rules.

HB: Según algunos estudios un grano del tamaño de arroz de cianuro es capaz de matar a un caballo.

BR: So according to studies, cyanide equivalent to the size of a grain of rice could kill a horse.

HB: Aquí se van a utilizar toneladas de toneladas de cianuro para disolver la roca.

BR: Here they would use tonnes and tonnes of cyanide to decompose the rock.

HB: Ese es el escenario que tenemos nosotros, en esta comunidad.

BR: So that’s the scenario that we have in this community.

HB: Sé que andan con un tiempo corto.

BR: They have a very short time.

HB: Tienen otras visitas

BR: We have a short time.

HB: Así que si tienen preguntas o comentarios antes de irnos a almorzar.

BR: Si en el folleto que nos dieron da la impresión que tenemos que visitar 32 organizaciones esta tarde. Vamos a estar corriendo.

HB: Si tienen algunas preguntas o comentarios.

BR: Do you have any questions or comments?

[Background comments begin rather than the informal discussion]

English Female: So the dispute is really about completing these administrative procedures or not.

MM: Yes, that’s right. Basically it’s an unofficial moratorium. I think after this election it’s unlikely to change, he’s kind of hinting that none of them [electoral parties] are interested in a law which will prohibit.
[Language transition] ¿y podemos comprar camisetas?

HB: De estas no tenemos porque las hemos dado todas.

Martin Mowforth – OK, gracias.

Recording Two

[Conversation begins with discussion on Oceana Gold]

HB: Australia. Nueva Zelanda.

BR: In Australia, New Zealand.

HB: Entonces a nivel de informes de Derechos Humanos ha sido señalada por violentar los derechos humanos de las comunidades en los países donde ellos han estado.

BR: So they’ve been pointed out as abusing human rights in the communities where they have worked.

HB: En la página de ellos una virtud que ellos dan, destacan de ellos es capacidad de resolver conflictos sociales.

BR: So in their webpage, they promote themselves as having capacity to resolve social problems.

HB: La pregunta es ¿Cómo lo resolverán?

BR: The question is, how would they resolve them?

HB: Las empresas mineras Canadienses, Estadounidenses, Chinas, son de las más violentas que hay.

BR: The mining companies, whether they are from the United States, Canada or China, are the most violent that exist.

HB: Se aprovechan de la necesidad de los pueblos.

BR: They take advantage of the necessities of the communities.

HB: Trabajan mucho con el sicariado.

BR: They work a lot with paid assassins.

HB: Un delegado de la Embajada de los Estados Unidos me pidió a mi que le comprobara eso.

BR: One of the delegates from the United States embassy asked me to prove that.

HB: Le dije que no es mi responsabilidad.

BR: I said it wasn’t my responsibility.

HB: Es del Estado.

BR: It’s the state’s.

HB: Mi compromiso es con la comunidad.

BR: My commitment is with the community.

HB: Cuando iba para Washington a denunciar a la empresa, la embajada de los Estados Unidos del Salvador me canceló la visa.

BR: When I went to Washington to denounce this, the US embassy here cancelled my visa.

HB: Tenía visa para 10 años

BR: I had a ten year visa.

HB: Solo fui a presentarme a la Embajada porque CIEL, que es una organización de abogados, me mando a dejar unos documentos de tramite, que tenia que llevar para Washington.

BR: So I went to the embassy because a member of being in an association of lawyers, I had some documents that I was going to take to Washinton, so I went to the embassy.

HB: En estas cartas que CIEL mandaba iba detallado a que iba yo a la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en Washington.

BR: So in those documents it detailed what my purpose was in going to the American court in Washington.

HB: Y decía presentar caso en contra de la empresa Pacific Rim versus las comunidades de Cabañas.

BR: So it was to present this case, Pacific Rim versus the communities in Cabañas.

HB: La joven de la embajada de Estados Unidos leyó.

BR: A young woman from the United States embassy read this.

HB: Me dijo permítame pasaporte

BR: She said give me your passport.

HB: Le presenté el pasaporte y se fue.

BR: So I gave her my passport and she left.

HB: Regreso como a los 30 minutos.

BR: She came back in half an hour.

HB: Yo muy contento que viajaba pronto.

BR: And I was very content that I would travel soon.

HB: Solo saco algo y me lo sello.

BR: And she took a seal and stamped the passport.

HB: Y mi visa dice, en, pues, en ingles cancelada.

BR: And my visa says cancelled in English.

HB: Le pregunte yo a ella porque me la cancelaba.

BR: I asked her why it was cancelled.

HB: Me dijo que no tiene porque dar explicaciones.

BR: She said there was no need to give an explanation.

HB: Entonces, me di cuenta del poder de las empresas mineras.

BR: So then I realised what power the mining companies have.

HB: Pero es mas fuerte el poder de la solidaridad.

BR: But the power of solidarity is stronger.

HB: Ustedes pueden hacer mucho en sus países.

BR: You can do a lot in your countries.

HB: En sus universidades.

BR: In your universities.

HB: Ustedes son la esperanza de nosotros para poder seguir luchando.

BR: You are powerful to continue struggling.

HB: Con una gestión de ustedes a nosotros nos da mucho ánimo de continuar.

BR: So the pressure that you can exert can give us a lot of hope.

HB: Con visitas de ustedes.

BR: With your visits.

HB: Con cartas de ustedes a los congresistas.

BR: With your letters to your political reps.

HB: Patrocinando una investigación.

BR: Sponsoring an investigation.

HB: Acompañando este esfuerzo.

BR: Accompanying this effort.

HB: Vamos a demostrar que los pueblos son más fuertes que las empresas transnacionales.

BR: So we’re going to demonstrate that the people are stronger than the transnational companies.

HB: Ya lo hemos hecho.

BR: We’ve already done it.

HB: Lo seguimos haciendo.

BR: We continue doing it.

HB: Y debemos de trascender de esta lucha en diferentes países a detener las transnacionales.

BR: Then we should transcend through the struggle to block the transnational companies.

HB: El agua, la tierra, los recursos naturales son para nosotros, para los seres humanos.

BR: The land, the water, the natural resources, for us for human beings, for the people.

HB: Para los hijos de ustedes.

BR: For your children.

HB: Para los nietos de ustedes.

BR: For your grandchildren.

HB: No podemos dejar que las empresas transnacionales ocupen esos recursos para financiarse perversamente.

BR: We can’t let transnational companies use those resources to get ahead perversely.

HB: Jamas había visto yo las cataratas del Niagara congeladas.

BR: I’ve never seen Niagra falls frozen before.

HB: Nueva York sufriendo estos grandes frios.

BR: New York is suffering from this great cold.

HB: Los lagos más hermosos de Estados Unidos contaminados.

BR: The lakes, the most beautiful lakes in the United States are contaminated.

HB: El calentamiento global no lo sufren las empresas.

BR: The global warming isn’t suffered by the businesses.

HB: Son figuras abstractas jurídicas.

BR: They are abstract judicial figures.

HB: El calentamiento global lo sufrimos nosotros.

BR: Global warming is what we suffer.

HB: Por eso es necesario hacer un alto.

BR: That’s why it’s necessary to put a stop to it.

HB: Y tomar una decision

BR: And make a decision.

HB: Buscarle sentido al sinsentido de la vida.

BR: To look for the meaning of life.

HB: No podemos seguir en el consumismo de nuestras sociedades.

BR: We can’t continue with the consumerism of our societies.

HB: Nos estamos acabando el planeta.

BR: We are using up our planet.

HB: Es necesario comenzar a rescatarlo.

BR: It’s necessary to start to rescue it.

HB: Solo es muy difícil.

BR: Alone it’s very difficult.

HB: Pero que seguro que con ustedes vamos a ganar.

BR: But we’re sure that with you, we’ll win.

HB: Muchas gracias.

[Round of Applause]

HB: He sido puntual.

English Woman: Muchas, muchisimas gracias Hector, muchísimas gracias.