Synopses & Reviews
The David and Goliath story of the Salvadorans who rallied together to prevent global corporation Pacific Rim from gold mining above the country's main river and contaminating their water source
In a time when countless communities are exploited by powerful corporations - from Flint, Michigan to the Standing Rock Reservation - The Water Defenders presents the inspirational story of a community that took on Big Gold at seemingly insurmountable odds and won.
Many Salvadorans were at first excited by the promise of jobs, progress, and prosperity that Pac Rim presented to them in the early 2000s. But Marcel and Miguel Rivera and Vidalina Morales were skeptical; after traveling to other mining sites, they noticed the surrounding water were poisoned by toxic chemicals. They realized that the Lempa, the river basin that covers 49% of El Salvador, was in danger of catastrophic contamination and decided to organize against Pac Rim and the destruction of their home.
What ensues next is a national battle with unlikely allies, corruption, lawsuits, violent threats, and lives lost and changed forever. After a seven year legal battle, the typically pro-corporate tribunal panel judging the case ruled unanimously against the mining company. In a final blow, Congress voted to ban all mining in El Salvador - making them the first country in the world to instate a comprehensive mining ban. The Water Defenders progresses the international conversation about the deceptive benefits of progress and prosperity, and the havoc it can wreak upon poor communities and the environment.
The David and Goliath story of ordinary people in El Salvador who rallied together with international allies to prevent a global mining corporation from poisoning the country's main water source
At a time when countless communities are resisting powerful corporations--from Flint, Michigan, to the Standing Rock Reservation, to Didipio in the Philippines, to the Gualcarque River in Honduras--The Water Defenders tells the inspirational story of a community that took on an international mining corporation at seemingly insurmountable odds and won not one but two historic victories.
In the early 2000s, many people in El Salvador were at first excited by the prospect of jobs, progress, and prosperity that the Pacific Rim mining company promised. However, farmer Vidalina Morales, brothers Marcelo and Miguel Rivera, and others soon discovered that the river system supplying water to the majority of Salvadorans was in danger of catastrophic contamination. With a group of unlikely allies, local and global, they committed to stop the corporation and the destruction of their home.
Based on over a decade of research and their own role as international allies of the community groups in El Salvador, Robin Broad and John Cavanagh unspool this untold story--a tale replete with corporate greed, a transnational lawsuit at a secretive World Bank tribunal in Washington, violent threats, murders, and--surprisingly--victory. The husband-and-wife duo immerses the reader in the lives of the Salvadoran villagers, the journeys of the local activists who sought the truth about the effects of gold mining on the environment, and the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of the corporate mining executives and their lawyers. The Water Defenders demands that we examine our assumptions about progress and prosperity, while providing valuable lessons for those fighting against destructive corporations in the United States and across the world.