Chalatenango, a strategic territory in El Salvador's 1980-92 civil war, is seen by many as a key front in the nationwide fight to strengthen environmental protections and keep the nation's gold and other metals in the ground.
The street art in its villages, and along narrow winding roads, reflects both struggles.
Mining has never been a major part of the Salvadoran economy.
But after the 1992 peace accords, companies were drawn in by relative stability, rising gold prices and an early succession of conservative, pro-business governments.
Today, the tide has turned and the battle to keep El Salvador's gold underground is not a minority cause.
Politicians from rival parties, the Catholic church, farmers movements and NGOs have all spoken out against mining as a route to development.
Polls suggest that more than 60% of the population is against metal mining in the country.
In the runup to this year's elections, Salvador Sánchez Cerén — now president-elect — followed the example of his recent predecessors by publicly vowing not to allow metal mining in the country.
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