On Sept. 7, Salvadoran activists representing 37 different organizations formed a new alliance that will defend the public right to water. The "National Forum for the Defense of the Sustainability and the Right to Water" was organized in response to the government’s intention to privatize the public service. Salvadorans already suffer precarious and deficient access to water and the lack of a wholistic, sustainable approach to water administration.
The new Forum agreed on an action plan which includes a major mobilization against the government’s General Water Law. The proposed law, prepared in secret, would ostenisbly disband the national water company, ANDA, and force local municipalities to establish their own water companies that would be obligated to contract with private firms. It would create a regulatory framework that allows private concessions for up to 50 years. A community leader addressing the group was emphatic about the dire implications of privatization saying that, “with the ratification of CAFTA, we know that US companies are eyeing our water and we can’t allow them to take over our resource for profit.”
In a follow up to the forum, the water workers’ union and Forum member, SETA (in Spanish) took out half page ads in El Salvador’s largest daily papers demanding that people reject the proposed Water Law. A previous version of the Law was retracted from legislative debate in August of last year. In the SETA communique, the union stated, “In the logic of the big water companies, water is viewed as merchandise and a source of profits. However, it is the human being who has the right to water, not private enterprise.”
**Thanks to CISPES organization, which first published news of this event.**