Groups Announce Alliance to Fight Water Privatization
Yesterday Salvadoran activists representing 37 different organizations came together to form the Foro Nacional por la Defensa de la Sustentabilidad y el Derecho al Agua (National Forum for the Defense of the Sustainability and Right to Water). The Forum is people's organized response to the government's intention to privatize the public service, which would exacerbate the already precarious and deficient access to water and the lack of an integral and sustainable approach to water administration. This purpose of the forum is to reclaim water as a public and social resource and therefore oppose to the government's neoliberal economic policies.
The newly-formed Forum agreed on a plan of action, which includes a major mobilization against the government's soon-to-be-presented General Water Law. This law, which the government has prepared in secret, would provide the regulatory framework to pass the administration of the water resource from public to private hands through 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." The Forum is the latest expression of resistance to water privatization, as SETA (the water workers' union) continues to organize in the rural municipalities against water decentralization, an effort sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to gradually reduce state responsibility for providing the service.