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Water is not a commodity

Water is not a commodity


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By Antonio Peredo Leigue

While the press proclaims that Bolivia is preventing the signing of an agreement with the European Union, what it is actually doing is promoting the intention that industrialized countries seize our most important resource. A relationship of respect must be established between those countries that plundered resources for centuries and our nations that are fighting now to preserve what little we have left.

June 5, 2006


Year 2000. The company “Aguas del Tunari”, controlled by the transnational Bechtel, imposed an excessive increase in the rates of drinking water in the city of Cochabamba. The reaction of consumers began with street protests that, very soon, were supported by the “irrigators” –a sector of farmers that requires water for their planting land– and all the peasants in the region. That city, located in the center of Bolivia, fought until the company was closed and returned to the municipal control system. "The water war," as it was called, claimed the social right to access this resource.

Analysts have coincidentally pointed out that this episode began, in Bolivia, the collapse of the neoliberal model. Today, the government of Evo Morales works to establish conditions that mean the enjoyment of basic services for everyone. By the way, access to water is one of these services, perhaps the most important.

The demands of the European Union

Along with other nations of the continent, Bolivia has raised its opposition to the FTAA and, later, to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) promoted by Washington. This is not a sectarian opposition, but rather the defense of resources that have been, and continue to be, irrationally consumed by industrialized countries. Water for human consumption is used in the metal-mechanical industry, in the leather industry, in the textile industry, in cleaning and a long list of other activities that could well use non-potable water for their requirements. Irrational uses are also found in relation to other non-renewable resources.

As a counterpart to this situation, the Latin American countries began talks with the European Union. The talks were well oriented, until the EU raised the issue of the privatization of natural resources. Making water a commodity traded by transnational companies is among the first demands of that community, once again posing the same type of impositions established by the United States FTA.

Water for the continent

The Bolivian government's reaction was the first. It must be the first. Is that, Bolivia, is the country from whose snowy mountains come


the waters that feed the Amazon and the Río de la Plata, the two most important basins in South America. Are we going to hand this resource over to European companies? Will we allow our country to control water consumption throughout the region? Will we let them take over the water that has become scarce?

Scientists have sounded the alarm. Specifically, in Bolivia, within two years, in 2009, restrictions on the use of water will have to be imposed. We specify that rationality, in the use of this resource, begins to form from now on. The snowy mountains of the Eastern and Western mountain ranges must be cared for. A great conservation plan can be prepared so that, in the coming years, we can implement rational water management.

But that is insufficient. Awareness of a rational use must occur in each person. Provisions that prevent dumping water in car washing and other wasteful uses; strict standards for use in different industries; effective rationing through differentiated rates. That is to say, from the governments, a permanent action must begin in order not to find ourselves, in 2009, in a conflictive situation that forces late rationing.

Water for the world

While the press proclaims that Bolivia is preventing the signing of an agreement with the European Union, what it is actually doing is promoting the intention that industrialized countries seize our most important resource. A relationship of respect must be established between those countries that plundered resources for centuries and our nations that are fighting now to preserve what little we have left.

We do it not only for our needs, which are the priority, but also for the well-being of everyone. If we accept the EU imposition, the water will not be enough for the next two years. In the same neoliberal conception, the faster and in greater quantity they sell, the more business they will do.

The European Union will have to be told that they are obliged to support us in caring for our resources. Let them withdraw that requirement from the agreements with Latin America!


Video: Water is not Commodity, But Rights (July 2022).


Comments:

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