Sad and sobering news out of El Salvador today. Juan Francisco Duran Ayala a student activist involved in anti-mining campaigns in his community was found dead, having been shot twice execution style in the head. Ayala had been missing since June 3. Friends and neighbors said the last time he was seen was while he was posting up anti-mining posters in opposition of Vancouver-based Pacific Rim Mining Corporation's El Dorado gold mine in Caba as.
Pacific Rim has been embattled in a legal fight with the El Salvadorian government over the necessary environmental permits to continue their El Dorado mining operations. In fact, Pacific Rim has sued the country for $77 million dollars, claiming their rights under CAFTA have been broken. It’s no wonder Pacific Rim is putting up such a fight with local communities and the federal government. Pacific Rim stands to make over $191 million in just 6 years.
Unfortunately Duran's murder is an all too common occurrence in El Salvador. In the last 2 years at least 10 people active in the anti-mining movement have been killed in El Salvador. In April of this year the lives of 5 employees at Victoria Radio, a media outlet highly critical on Pacific Rim’s operations (video), received death threats because of their continued criticism or Pacific Rim.
Voices from El Salvador points out that in the string of killings, perceived to be politically motivated, of Ramiro Rivera, Fel cita Echevarria, Dora Alicia Sortos Recenos and her unborn child, Horacio Menj var, or Esperanza Velasco and others remain open and unsolved. These unsolved crimes, all sharing a common thread of anti-mining advocates, paint a disturbing precedent. The unsolved homicides illustrate a climate in the El Salvadorian justice system that threatens to sweep aside or deprioritize Juan Francisco Duran Ayala’s and other activist’s murders.
“Two years after the kidnapping and murder of anti-mining activist Marcelo Rivera, those responsible for his death continue to do as they please while prosecutors and the police continue with false assumptions and inadequate investigations.
Communiqu from the Environmental Committee of Caba as for the Defense of Water and Culture (CAC) via Cispes.org
Groups in El Salvador as well as international NGOs are already calling for a through investigation into the murder of Juan Francisco Duran Ayala, and a fuller investigation into the continued human rights violations against anti-mining activist in El Salvador.
You can add your voice to the 1,000’s calling for a local and federal investigation into Ayala's murder by sending a message to Attorney General Romeo Barahona and Minister of Justice and Security Manuel Melgar.
Juan Francisco Duran Ayala’s family and community, as they are with all communities that continue to fight against unjust mining operations.