El Salvador Puts People and Environment First, Challenging Trade Rules

The citizens and government of El Salvador have inspired many by demonstrating the possibility of resistance against large corporations and the unfavorable trade regulations they have created by protecting the interests of the country’s own farmers, food, and environment.

Last summer news broke that the US was threatening to pull aid from El Salvador if the Central American country would not accept stipulations that would have required them to buy GMO seeds from companies such as Monsanto.

This spring, the Ministry of Agriculture released a new round of contracts to supply seeds to farmers through its Family Agriculture Program. This year almost half of all seeds will be produced by cooperatives within the country. This, despite protests in recent years by the US Trade Representative and large multinational seed companies that claim El Salvador is violating CAFTA—the Central American Free Trade Agreement—by favoring local farmers and denying business opportunities to large corporations.

Now El Salvador is under threat again. This time the country is being sued for $301 million by an Australian mining company that was denied a permit to mine gold in the country. The case has been brought to the International Center for Investment Disputes where the mining company is claiming that its right to mine gold has been violated. El Salvador denied the permit in an attempt to protect the surrounding environment and in particular safeguard the country’s limited sources of safe water.

So far El Salvador has been successful in protecting its local seed economy and farmers. No decision has yet been made in the mining case.

photo credit Luis Parada

Posted on April 20th 2015

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