Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sitting on a Gold Mine: The Origins of El Salvador’S De Facto Moratorium on Metals Mining (2004-2008)
by Nadelman, Rachel, Ph.D., American University, 2018, 324; 10843403
Abstract (Summary)

At the present time, El Salvador allows no industrial metals mining. In 2006, the Salvadoran government, under the leadership of the right-wing Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA) party, took the first of a series of steps to stall the country’s emerging metals mining industry. In 2007, citing the country’s extreme environmental challenges (including to water), the government suspended all industrial metals mining activity. Together these actions created a de-facto moratorium that blocked all corporate access to El Salvador’s domestic metals deposits. Two subsequent presidential administrations, led by the left-wing Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) party, sustained and strengthened the moratorium. In March 2017, the Salvadoran legislature unanimously passed a historic law banning metals mining.

Opposing metals mining was not always the majority stance in El Salvador. As recently as the early 2000s, the Salvadoran government and its international donors and creditors sought to attract foreign investment to make El Salvador another metals-exporting nation. Therefore, the country’s rejection of metals mining represents a drastic and largely unique policy shift.

This dissertation utilizes process tracing to analyze the origins of El Salvador’s de facto metals mining moratorium (2004-2008), based on evidence from fieldwork (2013, 2014, 2015) and archival research (including private and public sector documents not previously accessed and freedom of information requests). Based on the research findings, this dissertation argues that the determining factor influencing El Salvador to reverse its metals mining plans was the diversity of domestic sectors that came to oppose, or withhold support for, the industry. These sectors, including Salvadoran civil society as the driver, along with the institutional Catholic Church, domestic business, and executive branch government actors, largely followed parallel tracks rather than collaborating. Yet together they moved public opinion and influenced government decision-making, which ultimately halted El Salvador’s pursuit of short-term economic gain through metals mining.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Broad, Robin
Commitee: Fox, Jonathan, Gallaher, Carolyn
School: American University
Department: School of International Service
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 82/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: International Relations, Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies
Keywords: Civil society, El Salvador, Extractive industry, Gold mining, Metals mining, Water
Publication Number: 10843403
ISBN: 9798662483149
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