On Thursday, November 25, seven members of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas (CAC) will face charges filed by the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim in the local Sensuntepeque Court of the Peace in Cabañas. Currently, Pacific Rim is suing the government of El Salvador for $77 million dollars in alleged “lost profits” using the investor protections from chapter 10 of the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), after the Salvadoran government denied Pacific Rim permits to extract gold from Cabañas. The anti-mining activists were notified of these charges on Saturday, November 13, which accuse the activists of kidnapping, aggravated robbery, acts of terrorism and damages and destruction to private property. Francisco Pineda, president of the CAC and one of the activists to stand trial, responded to the charges declaring, “At no time did we kidnap, at no time did we commit robbery. Robbery and kidnapping is not what social organizations do. We know perfectly well who are the ones in charge of kidnapping and we know who the thieves are.” In 2009 soon after Pacific Rim filed its CAFTA lawsuit, three environmental defenders from Cabañas were murdered, including two leaders of the CAC, while other members of the local mining resistance have been kidnapped and received death threats. With the exception of the case of Marcelo Rivera, none of these acts of violence have been prosecuted.
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