Choosing water over gold: El Salvador bans metallic mining

Deep divisions mark El Salvador: between left and right, rich and poor, gangs and police. Yet last week, when the country’s Congress voted to prohibit metallic mining, those divides seemed to melt away.

From the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) to the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA), every party signed on to pass the bill unanimously, 69 to 0. San Salvador’s Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas called the decision an "act of love."

Johnny Wright Sol, a legislator from the ARENA party, explained that "water won out over gold." Mindful of the well-being of all the country’s people, El Salvador made this bold, largely unprecedented move by building bridges across party lines, organizations, and regions.

But El Salvador is no ordinary country.

Water is in increasingly short supply: The country is about the size of New Jersey, and gets all its water from just a few rivers and aquifers. El Salvador’s mountains are full of silver and gold, but mining uses a lot of water and is often linked to pollution. Most Salvadorans think the risks aren’t worth it: Four out of every five wanted a ban on metallic mining. But this public consensus didn’t […]

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Choosing water over gold: El Salvador bans metallic mining
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Choosing water over gold: El Salvador bans metallic mining
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El Salvador's mountains are full of silver & gold, but mining uses water and is often linked to pollution. Most Salvadorans think the risks aren't worth it.
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Ford Foundation
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