La Rinconada, which lies at over 5km above sea level, is the highest settlement in the world; a gold mining town, a concentration of misery, a community of about 50,000 inhabitants, many of whom have been poisoned by mercury. A place where countless women and children get regularly raped, where law and order collapsed quite some time ago, where young girls are sent to garbage dumps in order to ‘recycle’ terribly smelling waste, and where almost all the men work in beastly conditions, trying to save at least some money, but where most of them simply ruin their health, barely managing to stay alive.
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Plastics are found in the products we use every day: the toys we give our children, the clothing we wear, the disposable cups we drink from, the automobiles we make, the straws we use, the list goes on. Cheap and easy to make, plastic goods and plastic production have exploded in recent years. Yet the junked cars, the used straws and cups, they all end up somewhere, perhaps in a landfill, or perhaps drifting in the wind. 91% of plastic goods are not recycled. Most have found their way to rivers, lakes, and oceans, and over time break down into tiny microscopic particles of plastic. Microplastics are everywhere, even in the deepest sea floor sediments and in the Arctic. They can originate in small form from toothpaste or makeup, or can be derived from larger pieces of plastic, which over time break down into small particles.
The people of El Salvador and their international allies against irresponsible mining are celebrating a historic victory. After a long battle against global mining companies that were determined to plunder the country’s natural resources for short-term profits, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly has voted to ban all metal mining projects.
The new law is aimed at protecting the Central American nation’s environment and natural resources. Approved on March 29 with the support of 69 lawmakers from multiple parties (out of a total of 84), the law blocks all exploration, extraction, and processing of metals, whether in open pits or underground. It also prohibits the use of toxic chemicals like cyanide and mercury.