Biggest March since Salvadoran Elections Demands NO Water Privatization
Several thousands of people took to the streets of San Salvador yesterday representing labor unions, environmental organizations, campesinos, students, religious groups, and the Popular Social Bloc. The march began at 9:00 AM and arrived at the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly to present the "Special Water Law" that would guarantee universal access to water. March organizers chose March 22 - World Water Day - to denounce governmental attempts to privatize water and to present their alternative to the government's "General Water Law."
"They now call privatization concession!" chanted march participants yesterday. The government's "General Water Law" introduces the figure of concessions in the country's water administration system. The FESTRASPES union federation carried a huge banner that read "Water is life, to concede it is death." A commission representing all organizations participating in the march entered the Legislative Assembly building and introduced the "Special Water Law", which was immediately endorsed by several FMLN deputies.
The government's de-facto water privatization strategy of the smaller water systems has been largely unsuccessful due to SETA (Water Worker's Union) organizing. It appears that the push for privatization will play out on the legislative front where the FMLN won 32 deputies in the recent March 12 elections. Water privatization is but one piece of unpopular legislation that the right will try and force through the Assembly. For its part, the Salvadoran social movement is resisting through organizing, mobilizing and presenting alternatives.