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lunes, 5 de noviembre de 2012



Elizabeth Peredo Beltran *

Once again the Blue October Campaign took part in Bolivia, a popular initiative to defend water with more than hundred social organizations, institutions, ngos, and activists that promote public events to reflect on water rights. This mobilization is inspired in the historical Referendum in Uruguay that in 2004 included in their Constitution the concept of water as a human right, and the prohibition to transnationals to sue the state for sovereign decisions on public policy to ensure the human right to water. That change in Uruguay, inspired by the water mobilizations in Bolivia, Argentina and other countries between 2000 and 2003 during the first years of this century, was the first constitutional precedent in Latin America in the way to strength a social vision of water. Later, the constitutional changes of Bolivia and Ecuador made substantial progresses in the way to build a social governance of water emerging from below.

Certainly this is a time for celebration, but also a time for a balance, a needed evaluation to look with some objectivity the progress we have made in these years, and what we need to do to make our words and triumphs achieved not remain in mere rhetoric. Something that we have learnt in this time… not without pain.

Bolivian official reports are saying that our country is fulfilling one of the Millennium Development Goals related to water, reducing by more than a half the people without access to drinking water and sanitation. That is a great achievement to develop redistribution policies.

However, despite being a privileged country in terms of water resources, water of bad quality and the lack of access to clean water in strips of poverty of the population are alarming. Access to water varies from region to region, our territory is characterized by an unequal distribution of water depending on the regions of our territory: there are very arid and vulnerable regions driven to droughts and water scarcity phenomena due climate change, meanwhile other regions are wet, with so many water resources and prone to flooding. This past month the Bolivian Civil Defense Department has reported that more than 300,000 families are severely affected by droughts in El Chaco where crops and livestock are killed by the alarming lack of water. We are victims of a climate change provoked by developed countries that reinforce the way of producing and consuming without the conscience that we are getting a suicide path, a model that not find how to stop the greed to grow forever.

But climate change is not the only challenge we need to face, in our country more and more there is clear evidence of the over consumption and terrible pollution of water due the Bolivian mining centers. The rural communities that live in those territories are suffering more than our imagination can conceive. The extractive industry, which is increasingly taking body in the country, is exploiting and polluting waters in the West and in the East, where mining activity is widely increased.

On their side, corn and soybean crops for export and the use of genetically modified seeds (GMOs) have also started to grow exponentially in Bolivia with the consequent use of more and more extensions of land –with the promise of the Bolivian government to legalize the growth of the agricultural frontier- and the consequent overuse an virtual water export that this kind of crops implies. More than the 90% of the soy produced in our country is now already transgenic.

The discussion of a "new model" is unavoidable in Bolivia and in the world. Extreme weather events, produced by the system under this development model, extractivism and economic activities that are focusing in more and more profits, require major changes, not only to stop devastation, but also to keep the hope of the people in their conquests, in their quest for justice, fairness and care of the planet.

Activists and even some governors are talking a lot about "new development models" and about a "paradigm shift". We even thought we had found the clues to do this building a real progressive narrative for change the system, which is an important step forward, but the experience shows that without any real intention of "doing" but not replace this by "just saying", we will not be able to keep us on the right track.

The crisis of the Commons is driven by a cruel system of rules of the capital on the land, on water, seeds, labor, subjectivity ... This creates a chain of alienating consequences difficult to change if things are not done beyond the rhetoric.

Perhaps, instead of keep talking about new “development models" we should seek for a "Restoration model", looking for where life is still there to keep it, to help Nature and Mankind to survive the devastating culture of capital and greed. Looking for keep life and the environmental balances on the planet, but also the possibility of restoring Hope in the future.

La Paz in October 2012

* Elizabeth Peredo is a social psychologist, researcher and activist, one of the promoters of Blue October campaign in Bolivia.