Maude Barlow, an activist working on the rights of access to water throughout the world, explains the delicate elements that take place in the struggle for this indispensable resource in Latin America.
Even though there is an abundance of fresh water resources in the region, Latin America has one of the lowest accesses per capita to water in the world. This is due to the massive pollution of surface water, the deep class divisions that give access to the water needed to the wealthy as the poor majority goes without, and the privatization of the water services forced by the World Bank in exchange for the nations debts relief loans and development funds given.
The political change across the continent, in terms of fight for basic rights, has taken the subject of water rights and rejected the transnational companies forced by the World Bank and their performance in the region, to the point where in of the most important, Suez, is threatening to leave. These companies make profits from the communities in need of water.
Suez has failed to provide service to the Bolivian population while breaking their promises to bring water to small villages, using them instead to dump the raw sewage. These communities cannot function in these conditions.
In Colombia, there’s a complicated struggle because of political tensions between left and right movements.
There are plans to correct these mistakes through the United Nations and in every of the countries individually. Uruguay, México and Brazil have made through referendums a constitutional right to provide water to the people regarding their ability to pay.