“With CAFTA, water is at risk of becoming a commodity more than ever”
-Beatrice de Carrillo, Human Rights Ombudswoman
Two thousand people from The National Forum for the Defense of the Sustainability and Right to Water marched yesterday against privatization and for universal access to quality water.Members of Labor, Environmental, Women’s, Religious and Community groups from throughout El Salvador gathered downtown at the AcelhuateRiver, where San Salvador pumps its sewage. The music, presentations and popular theater all resonated with the main message of the protest: water is a public and social resource and the government’s responsibility is to administrate the resource in an integral and sustainable manner – not
make it a source of profit for private corporations.
Wilfredo Romero, General Secretary of SETA (Water worker’s Union) warned people of the soon-to-be presented General Water Law. This Law was recently presented to the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency so that it may then be introduced to the Legislative Assembly.”This law was prepared without any public consultation whatsoever, and – if passed – it would transfer the administration of water from ANDA (public water company) to private companies through contracts of up to 50 years called ‘concessions.’ Those unable to pay would simply go thirsty and die,” said Romero.”Water is a right, fighting for it is our duty,” he concluded.
Human Rights Ombudswoman Beatrice de Carrillo and Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez also spoke. Before the march to the Civic Plaza in the center of San Salvador, marchers staged a mock round up of the characters responsible for poor water administration. People dressed-up as the Minister of Health, the Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources, the President of ANDA, corporate reps, and mainstream media reps were rounded up from among the crowd and handcuffed. They were marched by the crowd the Plaza Civica, where the People’s Tribunal tried and sentenced them for environmental devastation, pollution, and
an unjust and corrupt administration which violates peoples’ right to water. Community members also made connections between the high-impact infrastructure projects the government is frantically trying to approve – like mines, dams and the Northern Highway – and the threat these present to water access.
Yesterday’s march was the Forum’s first public action since it formed on September 7, 2006 with the purpose of reclaiming water as a public and social resource and to oppose the ARENA government’s neo-liberal economic policies.CISPES simultaneously published a paid ad in two Salvadoran newspapers signed by over 40 US and Canadian organizations demanding Saca respect human rights and peoples’ right to organize. As CISPES accompanies the Salvadoran’s social movement resistance to CAFTA, we will continue to show solidarity with upcoming actions against privatization and against increasing repression.