Thousands march to ratify human right to water and food
On February 24, Salvadorans took to the streets once again to demand the right to food and water. Thousands of family farmers, unionists, members of churches, community and environmental organizations, and youth marched to the Legislative Assembly to demand that El Salvador’s elected officials ratify article 69 of the Constitutional Amendment, which would define both water and food as a human right. The amendment was first approved in 2012 but Salvadoran law requires that it be ratified during the subsequent legislative session, which ends on April 30th.
With just days remaining before legislative and municipal elections on March 1st, the march targeted the right-wing parties - ARENA, PDC and PCN - which have thus far blocked the ratification in the legislature. According to the Environmental Alliance, which helped organize the march, “the right-wing parties have opposed ratifying [the human right to food and water] because, ultimately, they defend the economic interests of the few who do business and make money off of water and food over the interests of the majority of citizens who have chosen to defend our rights.” Environmental organizations have launched the #PorMiDerechoalAgua campaign to ratify the right to food and water, calling on all Salvadorans to add their voices.
The constitutional ratification, together with another proposal, the General Water Law, would prioritize household water use over commercial interests. As the Environmental Alliance reports, over 200,000 homes in El Salvador, both in rural and urban areas, lack access to water, noting that beverage companies use millions of liters per day, as do commercial centers, golf courses and luxury housing complexes. Read some great analysis about the battle for water rights (in English) from our allies at Voices on the Border and check out some great video coverage (in Spanish) here.