Thursday, August 26, 2010

OPINION: Most Of The Time It Is Always About The Water

Can We Talk?
By Jack Fairweather

Water. When we have it we take it for granted. When we turn on the tap and nothing flows out….Whoa! We run to the telephone or grab for the cell phone. Somebody help!
Water. Latin American historian and author Eduardo Galeano recalls a version of Genesis that circulates by word of mouth on Columbia’s Pacific coast. At the beginning of time the ant’s waist was not narrow. The ant was round and filled with water.
It seems God had forgotten to water the earth. Realizing his mistake, God asked the ant for help. The ant refused.
So, God’s fingers pinched his belly. Thus were born all the rivers and the seven seas. Plenty of water. Life giving. Life sustaining. Free for all creation.
Time passed. Some of creation’s creatures became arrogant, greedy and humans came to believe they could own the earth and utilize it resources for selfish purposes.
At the end of the twentieth century a water war broke out in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Like the ant, a much larger entity, created by humans, wanted the area’s water for itself. The U.S. company Bechtel took over the water system and tripled the rates overnight. Indigenous people marched in from the valleys and blockaded the city. City people rebelled, raising barricades and burning water bills in a huge bonfire in the Plaza de Armas.
As usual, the Bolivian government in power at the time, responded with bullets. There was a state of siege, people were killed and imprisoned, but the uprising continued for two months until the people of Cochabamba won back their right to the liquid that nourishes their bodies and sustains their crops.
Elsewhere in Bolivia, however, the powers of the time gave in to pirates and allowed a French company, Suez, to take over the water system in La Paz. Rates went sky high and hardly anyone could afford to turn on the tap.
Not until the 21st century did the situation improve when a new government came into power on the shoulders of the indigenous and poor people and water was again affordable. Now, however, nature has shown there is a limit to it’s bounty. The glaciers which have provided water for centuries to some areas of Bolivia are receding and there is no longer the steady supply of melting water to supply poor villages.
In the meantime, water has become the target of speculation everywhere…even in Socorro and Catron counties where the absentee owner of San Augustin Ranch LLC, Italian businessman Bruno Modena, wants to pump the San Augustin plains aquifer dry and sell the water back to state entities.
The people of the wide area involved, ranchers, farmers, and people in villages and towns which would be impacted by the water grab have joined together to legally block the effort. So far, they have received little real support from state officials who, seemingly, are not sure just what they can do to protect the resource needed to sustain the livelihoods of those who would experience the greatest loss.
As always, it will be only through the efforts of the common people that the stand off will be decided; the people and their right to natural resources or the would be Water Lords who desire only to profit at the expense of others.

No comments:

Post a Comment