Friday, March 21, 2008

World Water Day

World Water Day is Saturday, March 22. To commemorate the date, El Salvador's Human Rights Ombudsman, Oscar Luna, issued a statement on the fundamental natuare of water as a human right. Here is a translated excerpt:

The right to water is a fundamental human right, essential for the realization of a life of dignity and a precondition for the realization of other rights, in as much as water is a determinant of public health and thus for the rights to health, to environment, to food, and to enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and all other rights. It is essential to have water in sufficient amounts and quality and treatment and sustainable exploitation, to meet the core needs of the population and to ensure the good health and proper development of present and future generations.

Luna calls on Salvadoran government and society to take measures to address environmental degradation to the hydrologic cycle. He decries a general lack of interest by the government in addressing the problem and speaks of the need of a new law of water, and calls for a policy of just and sustainable development of the water resource in the country.

For more on World Water Day, you can visit the United Nations web site for World Water Day or read my previous posts on water issues in El Salvador. One organization assisting in El Salvador is Living Water, which has completed nearly two hundred wells and other water projects in the country.

La Prensa Grafica has a photo gallery with images of the role of water in life in El Salvador.


El-Visitador said...

«estimo pertinente establecer mi oposición firme a cualquier intento encaminado a privatizar el servicio de distribución del agua»

What a freaking caveman this "human rights" troglodyte is. This wannabe Kommissar would have been happy in Stalinist Russia.

Compare his Socialist backwardness with Tim's enlightened view:

Opponents of privatization can't just say -- water is vital and no one should make profits off it

Anonymous said...

The most ruthless 1930s Stalinist Kommissar would marvel at the even more ruthless ideology of free market neoliberalism and its stratehy of privatization of public services like water.

E-V persists in calling someone like Oscar Luna, who is at best a decent social democrat, "socialist". It's like the Republicans calling Hillary Clinton "socialist". Accusations by them and E-V are absurd.

El-Visitador said...

«Oscar Luna, who is at best a decent social democrat»

Oh! Ok! So a Social Democrat is not a Socialist. Glad you clarified that.

Talk about a distinction without a difference. Luna is clearly a throwback to a failed religion.

- * -

So, we see that opponents of privatization are saying that water is vital and no one should make profits off it!

Lenin would be proud of them.

wally said...

Does this right to water mean that no matter where you choose to live or locate your residence, the government is obligated to bring water to your door? In the states if you choose to live in an area not served by a water system, it's your responsibility to dig a well and find your own water. There are some areas that due to high costs of connecting to water supplies, it is not economically feasible to bring piped water to that location. So unfortunately, but at the same time realistically, only those who can afford to obtain water resources can afford to live there. The government here simply doesn't have the capital to bring a water connection to every home in the country, no matter where it is located. Sad but true.

Larry said...

The comparison of Stalinism and neoliberalism is apt, but not becase of the name-calling.

Both Stalinism and the "Washington Consensus" function as psuedoreligions masquerading as "science." No matter what the emperical evidence, Stalin's "science" was beyond question. Similarly, no matter what actually happens when you privatize services (see water privatization in Bolivia and Ecuador, for example) it is a matter of faith that it must lead to improvements because Uncle Milty (Friedman) said so. (Also see Liberation Theology for a good critique of worshipping the false idol of the market/all might dollar.)

Maybe there are circumstances in which a democratic, honest, and accountable government could be trusted to privatize the water system. But do you really believe that the current Salvadoran government comes anywhere near this standard?

HODAD26 said...

common sense with Wally's remarks should be the norm

but then these mines will ruin basic water quality as it travels to the sea

'throwback to a failed religion" catholicism
is that what you mean?
EV must not be taking his meds again with inane remarks such as he occasionally rants

and I am sure Mr Luna has some heart for his public remarks as just wanting his people, Salvadorans to have basic water rights, not needs

HODAD26 said...

WOW Larry, I love your remarks.

muy excelente Senor

Stick in the liberal mud said...

I see that HODAD is up to his usual insightful comments again. I wonder who hasn't been taking his smart pills lately? He always has to throw in his jabs at mining. He just shows his total and unequivocal ignorance because to my knowledge there are no operating mining projects in the country. It appears that he is trying to lay all the water ills and every other ill of the country at the feet of something that doesn't exist. By the way the water is already polluted!!! Water from the Lempa cannot be used for culinary purposes due to its high level of contamination. My understanding is that the silt behind the dams can't be dredged because it would constitute hazardous waste. This is where hodad should check the facts before shooting off his face. Mining has had nothing to do with this situation.

Discharge from the proposed mining projects would be bad for the superficial waters of El Salvador because any treated discharge water would tend to dilute the levels of contaminants and improve the water quality which would throw off the systems of people accustomed to high levels of E Coli and whatever other garbage that runs down the rivers.

The interesting thing that I have seen in El Salvador is that some of the rural areas have better water service than that provided by ANDA. There are ADESCO's that collect, treat and distribute water to the local population. They do charge for this service, although they may not make a profit. Who could blame them if they did make a profit if the profit was plowed back into infrastructure? Once again the stalinist/socialist system of government control never works. It has also been shown that in most cases privatization results in a better service than a government controlled one (I haven't heard very many folks in ES lamenting the demise of ANTEL and their lousy service). Most people are willing to pay extra for good service or the option to choose even though most private businesses in El Salvador haven't picked up on that fact. We from the north are just used to the fact that the private water companies in the states have to go before the PUC and argue/justify the need to raise water costs. It does take money to drill, pump, treat and distribute the water.

I applaud the fact that NGO's and other groups are trying to make water more available. I just hope that they are making sure that the wells are drilled, cased and sealed properly so that improper drainage or the injudicious use of pesticides and herbicides doesn't pollute/contaminate these water sources as well. I also hope they are showing the people how to set up the financial arrangments for their water companies so that the money earned by these water companies is allocated properly. That way there is money for maintenance and those other pesky charges like electricity that are not figured in, in the euphoria of having water.

Anonymous said...

"(I haven't heard very many folks in ES lamenting the demise of ANTEL and their lousy service)"

Strange what stick in the mud says b/c from 1997 (after the privatization of ANTEL) Salvadorans that I knew and talked with complained and were pissed off at the continued increases in their telephone bills. One of the main concepts of privatization is to sell off the state company low, low, low at bargin basement prices. Have a foreign multinational snap it up cheap and then raise prices and make a mint. With 2 million plus Salvadorans in the U.S. getting lots of money for long distance calls is very profitable.

There's also the union busting of ASTEL, the union that represented the workers of ANTEL. It was crushed and the Salvadoran government has spent the last 10 years throwing road block after road block against the new union SUTEL. I guess we can have free market policies and privatization but when workers try to organize then the government does all it can do to deny them that right.

El-Visitador said...

«There's also the union busting of ASTEL, the union that represented the workers of ANTEL. It was crushed»

If memory serves right, the ASTEL guys got shares of the company at deeply discounted prices. They got a subsidy of millions of dollars at the cost of all other Salvadorean citizens.

Reminds me of the CAESS bloodsucker union. They got 20% of the shares as gifts and artificially low prices. They received $100,000,000 in share subsidy from taxpayers and consumers.


I wish someone would crush me with $100 million.