Despite violent repression of riot police, community wins de-privatization of water system

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On September 8, the Salvadoran riot police violently dispersed a peaceful protest in the Santa Eduviges community, which had taken over the Carretera de Oro (one El Salvador's main highways) in the city of Soyapango. The community was demanding that the state-run water company ANDA take over the administration of the water system since the privately-run system was failing and the community had not received water in more than two months. The riot police attacked the community with teargas, despite the presence of children and the elderly, and later riot police sprayed pepper gas at community members who sat down in civil disobedience. Five people were beaten, captured and threatened with trials for public disorder.

The community occupied the space around the highway for 3 days, until finally on Monday ANDA agreed to take over the administration of the system, and all five community leaders were released from prison. Said Efren Mejia, one of the community leaders released on Monday, "Although the action was successful, we fear repression from the businessman who owned the water system, since not only have we cut off his profit but we also demanded mitigation projects for the 11 communities that have been affected by his unregulated construction projects." The battle in Santa Eduviges is one of many over water in El Salvador, and the struggle against water privatization promises to heat up this fall.

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