Backlash to right-wing water privatization efforts will influence Salvadoran presidential race
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Salvadorans living abroad express their support for candidates who support the General Water Law
On October 23, Organizations representing Salvadorans living abroad delivered official correspondence to the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador expressing their opposition to right-wing efforts to privatize the country’s water.
In June 2018, representatives of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) attempted to fast-track legislation that would shift control of the country’s water resources to the private sector, a move that galvanized huge protests across the nation and created a new fault-line for right-wing parties and presidential hopefuls in light of the upcoming elections in February 2019.
On behalf of nearly 1000 Salvadorans living abroad and international allies, letters were formally submitted to to the Environmental and Climate Change Commission and the heads of all of El Salvador's political parties in the Legislative Assembly.
In their letter, Salvadorans living in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere echoed El Salvador’s leading environmental organizations, the Catholic Church, universities and other prominent sectors to demand passage of the General Water Law, previously introduced by the governing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, which seeks to protect the human right to water and to improve public management of water resources.
“Salvadorans in the exterior are unified in their support for presidential candidates who are committed to the passage of the General Water Law, legislation that will protect the El Salvador’s scarce water resources from continued profit-driven overuse and contamination,” said a representative of the Unified Coordination of Salvadorans in the Exterior (CUSE), an organization based in Los Angeles, CA.
International organizations have repeatedly echoed the social movement's demand to protect water as a human right. During a previous legislative standoff regarding the future of water in El Salvador in 2015, a group of 132 organizations from eighteen countries sent a letter to the Salvadoran legislature expressing support for a proposal to enshrine the human rights to water in the Constitution, while Rep. Raul Grijalva, top Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources, sent a letter to the Environmental and Climate Change Commission emphasizing the importance of guaranteeing that “governance of water resources remains under the remit of public authorities.”
“It is clearly understood in the United States and on the international level that ARENA and other right-wing parties’ efforts are nothing more than a continuation of their long-standing desire to profit from this vital resource to which so many Salvadorans already struggle for adequate access,” said Samantha Pineda, Program Director of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), a U.S.-based solidarity organization that helped circulate the petition.