Blog Entry

Book Launch! The Water Defenders: A Celebration and Reflections on International Solidarity in El Salvador's Victory over Mining

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

[Update: video recordings of the event are available in English and Spanish!] 

On the 12th anniversary of the assassination of Salvadoran water defender Marcelo Rivera, join activists from Canada, the United States, and El Salvador in a webinar discussion on lessons from North American activists and organizations’ decade-long solidarity relationship with Salvadoran water defenders for international solidarity work going forward. The conversation will draw on the rich history of Canadian solidarity with social movements in El Salvador.

Robin Broad and John Cavanagh, authors of the just-published book: The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed (Beacon Press, 2021) will kick off the discussion with observations from the book, which covers the Salvadoran people’s struggle to protect their small, precious country and its imperilled waters from large-scale metal mining. A courageous struggle that led their country to become the first nation to ban mining in 2017! Then, moderator Jamie Kneen of MiningWatch Canada will bring in others for their reflections, including Vidalina Morales of La Mesa National of El Salvador, Jen Moore and Manuel Pérez Rocha of the Institute for Policy Studies, Laura Avalos, founder and former president of the Salvadorian Canadian Association of Ottawa and National Capital Region (ASCORCAN), René Guerra, former director of Salvaide, and Jim Hodgson, formerly of the United Church.

  • When: Tuesday, July 13, 7-8:30 pm Eastern time (6pm Mexico, 5 pm El Salvador)
  • Where: via  Zoom - register here.
  • Facebook events are available in English and Spanish.
  • The event will be in English with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish

More about The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed

Water is life. Countless communities across the world, from Flint, Michigan to the Standing Rock Reservation to the Gualcarque River in Honduras, have used this phrase as a rallying cry against powerful corporations that value profits over the environment and the health of local communities. In 2002, a small group of citizens in El Salvador joined this global community of water defenders when representatives from multinational mining company Pac Rim appeared in their home province of Cabañas. This ignited a people’s fight against corporate power that would last for over a decade. In The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved A Country from Corporate Greed, Robin Broad and John Cavanagh tell the harrowing, inspiring saga of El Salvador’s fight – and historic victory – to save their water, and their communities, from Big Gold.

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, replete with corporate greed; a transnational lawsuit at a secretive World Bank tribunal in Washington, DC; 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. The Water Defenders demands that we examine our assumptions about progress and prosperity, while providing valuable lessons for other communities and allies fighting against destructive corporations in the United States and across the world.

With support from:

  • Central America Support Committee (CASC) - Victoria
  • Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL) - Montreal
  • Common Frontiers
  • Institute for Policy Studies
  • KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
  • Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) - Toronto
  • Mining Justice Action Committee - Victoria
  • Mining Justice Alliance - Vancouver
  • MiningWatch Canada
  • Oxfam Canada
  • Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Social Justice Fund
  • Rights Action
  • UBC Students for Mining Justice - Vancouver