It’s not drought, it’s dispossession

The sign reads: “It’s not drought, it’s dispossession.”

By: Raúl Romero

The water crisis that shakes Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo León, generated constant social expressions of discontent throughout this year. In June, marches and other forms of protest in the northern state became the focus of national and international press attention. While ordinary people organized and demanded solutions to the water shortage, Governor Samuel García, of Movimiento Ciudadano (Citizen Movement), and his wife Mariana Rodríguez let themselves be seen carefree and even offensive on social networks: at the same time that people lived through one of the worst water crises, they published photos relaxed in the pool or leaving to shower. Its banality was not a “communication problem” or a “politically incorrect” message, it’s a common practice among juniors: exhibiting the luxuries of their opulence to differentiate themselves from impoverished sectors.

In the state of Querétaro, also during May and June 2022, different social organizations began to articulate to express their rejection of the “Water Law,” approved by the Congress of PAN majority, which reinforces the process of privatization of water through concessions, measurement and collection for up to 40 years. The articulation process led to the creation of the Network in Defense of Water and Life (Redavi), created on May 21, with the aim of organizing the rejection of the aforementioned law. Among the demonstrators who for several weeks held meetings, meetings, marches, rallies, flyers and more, were students from the Autonomous University of Querétaro, environmental activists, members of the San Francisquito neighborhood, the Agua que Corre Festival, the Bajo Tierra Museo Collective and the indigenous communities of Santiago Mexquititlán, Chitejé de Garabato and San Miguel Tlaxcaltepec.

Under the slogan “The water belongs to the people, dammit!”, the Redavi managed to get its call to reach more inhabitants of the state, while specialists and the national and international press began to place Querétaro among the states where water conflicts occur. As proof of the above, it is enough to point out that the EJAtlas-Global Atlas of Environmental Justice tool, which is responsible for mapping the different socio-environmental conflicts around the world, integrated the entry “Aggression, arbitrary detentions and criminalization of the protest against privatization of water in Querétaro” (https://bit.ly/3OXG0fJ).

As a result of the Caravan for Life and Water, the peoples united against capitalist dispossession, and with the aim of strengthening their process of articulation, different organizations and peoples met in the National Assembly for Water and Life. No more dispossession or pollution! The assembly took place on August 27 and 28 in the community of Santa María Zacatepec, in the municipality of Juan C. Bonilla, Puebla, very close to the old Altepelmecalli or house of the peoples, popular experience of occupation of a Bonafont plant that was later reclaimed by the National Guard and delivered to the transnational corporation. Organized in working groups and through generative questions, attendees shared experiences of dispossession and resistance, outlined a national diagnosis, in addition to planning joint actions and a second assembly in 2023. In particular, it highlighted the terror that communities are experiencing because of organized crime groups and the permanence of old groups of the local caciques, but now attached to the new ruling party or its allies.

Mobilizations for the right to water and against megaprojects that overexploit it are all over the country, as we have already analyzed in these pages (https://bit.ly/3B4UZPd). While state governments ignore, despise and even repress those who fight for water, in the federal spheres, particularly in the National Water Commission (Conagua), tensions and contradictions are aggravated by the abrupt departure of the deputy director of that agency, or by the alleged acts of corruption with which an official of this commission would have benefited with concessions to the Mexico Group of Germán Larrea.

Caravan for Water and Life.

“We, the Lenca people, are ancestral custodians of the rivers, also protected by the spirits of the girls who teach us that to give our lives in multiple ways for the defense of the rivers is to give our lives for the good of humanity and this planet,” Berta Cáceres told us in 2015, before she herself gave her life in defense of the rivers of humanity and of this planet. Let us learn from the Lenca people, from Berta Cáceres, and from so many other peoples and people who, by defending water, defend the life of humanity and the planet.

As the slogan says: The water belongs to the people, dammit!

*Sociologist

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Sunday, December 4, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/12/04/opinion/012a2pol and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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