Agua/Aqua, Climate Change, Corruption, Disasters, Economy, El Salvador Government, Environment, Food Security, Water/Agua

El Conflicto por el Agua en El Salvador

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[www.theguardian.com]
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El 22 de diciembre de 1992 la Asamblea General de Las Naciones Unidas decretó que cada 22 de marzo se celebraría el Día Mundial del Agua, fecha importante porque constituye una oportunidad para aprender sobre el agua y valorar su importancia en la naturaleza y en la sociedad.

En países como El Salvador el Día Mundial del Agua también es una fecha para inspirar la lucha de la sociedad civil por el derecho humano al agua, considerando que se enfrenta una profunda crisis hídrica. Según el Fondo Ambiental de El Salvador, FONAES, es el único país en la región centroamericana que se encuentra cercano a una situación de estrés hídrico, lo que lo sitúa entre los países de Latinoamérica y el Caribe con más baja disponibilidad de agua por habitante.

La principal causa es la destrucción del bosque y la biodiversidad; la tala de zonas boscosas ha sido una práctica sistemática, muchos lugares que producían agua limpia y aire fresco ahora son gruesas capas de asfalto y concreto. Las pocas áreas forestales de El Salvador apenas constituyen el 1% del bosque centroamericano.

Otra causa de la crisis hídrica es la contaminación de los ríos y en general de las fuentes superficiales de agua. Este nivel de degradación de las fuentes, tanto subterráneas como superficiales, tiene que ver con procesos históricos de sobreexplotación de los bienes naturales con fines de acumulación de capital, facilitados por la complicidad o negligencia del Estado.

En la actualidad el agua es motivo de conflicto, porque la poca agua existente la disputan las empresas y las comunidades, tal es el caso del municipio de Nejapa que posee uno de los principales acuíferos del país y que por esta razón empresas como la Coca Cola se ha instalado en el lugar, según la investigadora y activista ambiental Marta Muños la empresa Coca Cola extrae el 15% de toda el agua del municipio, sin pagar ningún tipo de impuesto, lo más lamentable de este caso es que mientras dicha empresa comete este abuso, cientos de familias aledañas a la fabrica embotelladora, no tienen acceso al agua.

Similar situación ocurre con los cultivadores de caña de azúcar en la costa salvadoreña, que instalan potentes motores para extraer del subsuelo cantidades exorbitantes de agua para riego de grandes extensiones del monocultivo, al mismo tiempo que los agricultores carecen de agua para sus pequeñas parcelas.

Esta realidad podría ser diferente de aprobarse una Ley General de Aguas que durante los últimos 15 años diversas organizaciones de la sociedad civil han venido proponiendo y exigiendo; una ley que asegure que la prioridad en el uso del agua sea el consumo de la población y no el negocio de las grandes empresas, pues el acceso al agua es un derecho humano básico, lo que requiere que las decisiones de cómo se gestionan y asignan los bienes hídricos deben ser tomadas por el Estado, teniendo como prioridad el consumo humano y garantizando que aún aquellos que son incapaces de pagar tienen el agua que necesitan para vivir con dignidad.

No obstante, Por mucho tiempo la derecha legislativa y empresarial han maniobrado para promulgar una ley que entregue la gestión del agua a una entidad controlada por intereses privados, lo que equivale a convertir el agua en una mercancía o en todo caso, a designar su uso a medida y conveniencia de la gran empresa privada.
Aunque existen expectativas que los nuevos actores políticos en la Asamblea Legislativa aprueben la Ley General de Aguas, está claro que los grupos de poder no van a desistir de su interés de privatizar el agua. Le corresponde al pueblo estar prevenido y no permitir, que intereses privados se apropien del control del agua.

Según el Foro del Agua existen cinco principios fundamentales que debe comprender una Ley General de Aguas: Garantía del derecho humano al agua; prioridad para el consumo humano y no de las empresas; gestión pública del agua; gestión sustentable de las cuencas hidrográficas; y un régimen económico justo y equitativo.

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[www.trocaire.org]

Conflict over Water in El Salvador

 

On December 22, 1992, the United Nations General Assembly decreed that every March 22 would be celebrated World Water Day, an important date because it constitutes an opportunity to raise awareness about water and its importance in nature and in society.

In countries like El Salvador, World Water Day is also a date that inspires the civil society to fight for the human right to water, considering that it we are facing a profound water crisis. According to the Environmental Fund of El Salvador (FONAES), this is the only country in the Central American region that is close to a situation of water stress, placing it among the countries in Latin American and Caribbean with the lowest availability of water per inhabitant.

The main cause of this dilema is the destruction of the forest and biodiversity. Because logging has become such a systematic practice, many places that produced clean water and fresh air are now thick layers of asphalt and concrete. The few forest areas in El Salvador make up only 1% of the Central American forest.

The contamination of rivers and in general of surface water sources is another cause of the water crisis. This level of degradation of the few groundwater and surface sources left, has to do with historical processes of overexploitation of natural assets for capital accumulation purposes, facilitated by the complicity or negligence of the State.

Currently, water is a source of conflict in El Salvador because the small amounts of usable water that is left is being disputed by companies and communities. Such is the case of the municipality of Nejapa, which hosts one of the main aquifers in the country and because of this companies such as Coca-Cola have installed their factory there. According to the researcher and environmental activist Marta Muños, the Coca-Cola company extracts 15% of all potable water in the municipality, without paying any type of tax, and yet the most unfortunate thing about this case is that while said company commits this abuse, hundreds of families surrounding the bottling factory don’t have access to water.

A similar situation occurs with industrial sugarcane growers on the Salvadoran coast, who install powerful motors to extract exorbitant amounts of water from the subsoil to irrigate large tracts of monoculture, while at the same time making it impossible for local farmers to maintain their small plots.

This reality could be different however, if the General Water Law, which various civil society organizations have been proposing and demanding over the last 15 years, was approved. This law ensures that the consumption of water by the normal population has priority over the water consumption of large companies. Since access to water is a basic human right, it requires the State to make strategic decisions on how to manage and assign water assets and ensuring that even those who are unable to pay have the water they need to live with dignity.

Unfortunately for normal Salvadorans, for a long time the legislative and business right have maneuvered to enact a law that hands over water management to an entity controlled by private interests, which is equivalent to converting water into a commodity or, in any case, to restrict its use. to measure and convenience of the large private company.

Although there are expectations that the new political actors in the Legislative Assembly will approve the General Water Law, it is clear that their are powerful entities behind the scenes that are not going to give up their interest in privatizing water easily. It is the responsibility of the people to be forewarned and to not allow private interests to take control of the water.

According to the Water Forum, there are five fundamental principles that a General Water Law must include: Ensuring the human right to water; Prioritizing water for human consumption and not for companies; Proper public water management; Sustainable management of hydrographic basins; and a fair and equitable economic regime.

Equality, Uncategorized, women & girls

Protecting and Preventing Acts of Violence Against Women in Morazán

El Salvador’s recently held mid-term elections on March 4, saw a staggering overturn of political power as right-wing parties overtook the senate and major municipal seats in San Salvador, La Libertad and Santa Ana; and much could be said about the ‘debacle.’ At the same time, human rights defenders and survivors are celebrating the exoneration and release of two Salvadoran women unjustly incarcerated in for miscarriages many years ago.

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Last year, El Salvador experienced 3,605 homicides, a 1,675 reduction from 2016. As multitudes rise up in outrage against the country’s oppressive justice system and high rate of gender-based violence, El Salvador continues to be one of the most dangerous countries to be a woman.

2017 National Statistics
graph-1.png(source ORSMUSA)

More troubling is that the factual number of violent cases against Salvadoran women and girls are most certainly much higher than the statistics represented above because victims do not report becasue of fear of retribution and impunity. It is important to note that the majority of these victims suffer abuse in their own homes at the hand of men most close to them.

2018 Women’s March in San Salvadoroutput_mOcplO

Silvia Juárez, program coordinator for the Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace  in El Salvador (ORMUSA) stated that women “are still not equal. The profound root of violence against women is inequality. We are considered human beings of less value.” On the eve of International Women’s day, a vigil was held in San Salvador and on March 8, over 3,000 marchers took to the streets to protest the country’s widespread inequality and violence against women. Their demands were simple: dignity and respect for all women and reforms to the healthcare and judicial systems.

That same day in Morazán, 600 protestors marched through the streets of San Francisco Gotera, confronting important judicial courts and even the town hall, while chanting slogans like “We don’t want flowers, we want justice!”

In 2016, 176 cases of domestic violence and 72 acts of sexual violence were reported in Morazán. According to the Citizen Network of Morazán Women (the Network), though down from the 14 official reports in 2016, five cases of femicide were invisibilizedthis year. The Network consists of 8 municipal associations scattered throughout the department with the mutual objective of promoting and defending the human rights of women. They accomplish their goals through combining unity, education and protest.

Women’s Day in Morazán, 2018output_jBLsBe

Gender-based violence is so prevalent in Morazán that it has led to the Network and other local organizations to begin to develop a community based approach to facilitate the recovery of victims and their families by educating communities and service providers, offering victims immediate and long-term support, and holding relevant  institutions accountable. Fortunately, this interrelationship of Morazán leaders exemplifies a support network of local women who can identify effective solutions to support victims of violence and their families in resource-constrained settings.

Click here for more information about the Network’s initiative and ways you can help.

The time is now.