Faculty Publications – College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

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Following an extended anti-mining campaign, El Salvador became the first country to adopt a legal ban on all forms of metallic mining. This article uses process tracing to map direct, indirect and mediated linkages between the anti-mining mobilization and the formal adoption of a mining prohibition by the national legislature in 2017. It draws on 78 interviews with campaign activists, legislators, government officials, business leaders and legal teams, and combines this information with legislative documents and reports, public opinion data, legal documents from an investment dispute filed against the Salvadoran government, and blogs and website of the Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica. This analysis gives particular attention to the spatial reach and breadth of the anti-mining networks; fissures within and situational realignment of the political elite; and the strategic use of diverse institutional openings (docking points), some of which were adapted to new purposes by movement entrepreneurs. Although major obstacles to sustainable development and environmental protection remain in El Salvador, this article identifies a set of iterative interactions between activist alliances and institutional actors that can successfully contribute to policy change.