El Salvador

report 2017

Salvadoran Civil Society Organizations struggling to focus, participate and obtain financing to achieve the SDGs

BCI & GEI 2011
Demonstration against mining.
(Photo: Upside Down World)

El Salvador is the first country in Latin America and perhaps in the world to strictly prohibit all exploration and exploitation of underground metals, as well as open-pit mining. The Social Watch coalition of El Salvador welcomes this decision as “a triumph of the struggle carried out by different social organizations, which now have this legal tool to defend the environment and the lives affected”. However, they remind that “there has historically been a vacuum in the effective implementation of laws and agreements that guarantee the protection of the environment and vulnerable areas, mainly because of the lack of citizen participation in monitoring and implementing the laws”. They also demand with urgency a “comprehensive fiscal reform to effectively combat tax evasion and avoidance, thus guaranteeing needed revenues for implementing the SDGs”.

Tax evasion and environmental vulnerability have been identified by Salvadorean civil society as the major obstacles to achieving the SDGs in El Salvador. Tax evasion in 2013 was estimated at $1.5 billion, more than one fourth of total government revenue. At the same time, the annual average of losses due to extreme weather events in the XXI century so far is "equivalent to almost 60 percent of the annual average of its public investment". It is urgent to take a development path that protects Nature from further degradation and strengthens ecosystems to reduce environmental vulnerabilities that mostly affect the poorest sectors of the population.

Social Watch El Salvador has been executing a project called “Awareness and advocacy as tools for the financial education of the Salvadoran population and demanding a fair legislative framework for financial products.” The project has the objective of contributing to the generation of public opinion on abuses perpetrated by financial institutions that have an impact on the population generating negative impacts on poverty and human rights conditions.

A Salvadorean woman learns to
write and read. (Photo: MINED)

The first leftist government in El Salvador has been devoted, in the last three years, to support marginalized populations such as the elderly, women, children and the rural population, says the Salvadorean contribution to the Social Watch Report 2013. Improvements in health and education are apparent, but structural changes are needed to ensure the sustainability of the social programs, including a tax reform to finance them with the national budget without relying on external funds.

Demonstration against mining
in El Salvador.
(Photo: Upside Down World)

Hundreds of civil society organizations from all over the world are calling the World Bank and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), associate to the institution, to dismiss the demand of compensation initiated by Canadian company Pacific Rim against the Government of El Salvador, which forbade a cyanide-leach gold mining project presented by the firm.

In this edition of Spotlight On… we will travel to Central America, where the national Social Watch coalition in El Salvador has succeeded in monitoring economic, social and gender rights in the country from diverse perspectives.

Felipe Rivas Villatoro