Yesterday, members of El Salvador’s National Assembly moved one step closer to passing a controversial law that would privatize water in the country.
A majority in the Environmental Committee voted to create a regulatory body that consist of seven entities, three that represent the public, and four that represent private interests. The move would give private interests the majority, and with that, control over how the resource will be managed. Historically, when big business is put in charge of protecting natural resources and the environment, it has not been for the benefit of the environment or for communities that depend on it for their survival.
The Committee was able to pass the motion without a single vote from the FMLN, the leftist party that currently holds the presidency. The conservative parties of the country have a majority in congress, and have the power to pass the controversial “Integrated Water Law” in the near future. The president, however, will be able to veto the law and, if the FMLN and GANA (historically opposed parties) are able to join forces, his veto will be upheld. In the past, GANA has voted to privatize the resource. The President-elect Nayib Bukele, who is officially a member of the GANA party, promised to uphold the human right to water and to fight any privatization of it during his campaign. In response to the Environmental Committee’s vote, he reaffirmed his promise on Twitter, tweeting that GANA will vote to uphold a veto.
Civil society organizations that make up the Alliance Against the Privatization of Water denounced the recent legislative move to privatize water. They have begun taking to the streets to protest what they see as a power grab by private industry – especially the water-hungry sugar cane growers and beverage bottlers. A major, nationwide protest is being planned for World Water Day on March 22nd. EcoViva stands strong with our community partners in their fight against privatizing water in El Salvador. We believe access to water is a human right and should be enshrined in law, and we strongly denounce the recent move to place profit over the needs of the people.
For more on the water crisis in El Salvador, read our past blogs “Renewed push for water rights in El Salvador,” “El Salvador and the Right to Water: Now What?” and “Access to affordable, clean water can change opportunities for girls in El Salvador.”
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