Social Movement Demands Right to Food and Water on World Food Day

On Thursday, October 16th, social movement groups in El Salvador marked World Food Day by taking to the streets to demand guarantees for the right to food and water.
Cooperatives, rural women’s organizations, community and environmental groups, agricultural associations and food sovereignty coalitions marched to the National Legislative Assembly, calling on legislators to pass the proposed Food Sovereignty Law and General Water Law, ratify a constitutional reform to enshrine the people’s right to food and water and prohibit metallic mining in the country. The groups also urged the Supreme Court to rule the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) unconstitutional.
“Food insecurity and poverty in El Salvador have a rural face; chronic malnutrition affects 19% of children under 4, reaching up to 40% in the departments and municipalities with the highest rates of poverty. This is all a consequence of the implementation of a neoliberal model by the ARENA [right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance party] administrations,” read part of the statement released by the organizations on Thursday. “Additionally, dollarization and the signing of free trade agreements opened the country to international agricultural trade, eliminating all types of protection for national production, so that food imports increased four-fold during the period of right-wing governance…We demand that our right to healthy, nutritious, sufficient and culturally acceptable food be respected with gender equity.”
The mobilization comes as debate around the General Water Law has heated up in the Assembly. Right-wing legislators have been obstructing the law’s passage, pushing instead to establish mechanisms that could open water up to privatization, a long-time goal of El Salvador’s Right that the social movement has fought ferociously for years. “They want to see water as a commodity and not as a right of the people,” said legislator Lourdes Palacios of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party.

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Salvadorans, solidarity groups and faith partners gather in September 2023 to decry human rights abuses in El Salvador and continued U.S. support (photo: CISPES)