Chilean workers’ union joins the battle against water privatization

SANTIAGO – The Central Unitaria de Trabajadores announced that it was joining the water campaign “Agua de Todos.” The campaign seeks to collect 500,000 signatures to change the Constitution to eliminate water privatization. Some will say it can’t come soon enough, because there are currently 90 cities with supply problems.

The Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (the Chilean Workers’ Central Union or CUT) met on Apr. 4 with the congressional chair of the environment committee, Senator Guido Girardi, to join his campaign, “Agua de Todos” (Everyone’s Water).

At the meeting, CUT confirmed that it was committed to the initiative, which, as indicated by La Nación, seeks to “collect 500,000 signatures to demand a constitutional reform that establishes water as a national good for public use and that human consumption is a priority and a fundamental right.”

Planetary Challenge

CUT announced that it would provide “at least 100,000 signatures.” Its president, Barbara Figueroa, said CUT decided to join the cause because the issue of water is one of the “planetary challenges,” and “to have employment we need basic environmental conditions,” according to La Nación. Figueroa added that it was “fundamental” to join, since it allows CUT to help “generate the structural changes required by our country.”

Girardi said the campaign is the result of the ravages of climate change in Chile. “The water crisis is going to be dramatic and Chile is the only country on the planet that, due to the illegitimate Constitution of the 80, under the eaves of Pinochet, privatized the water.”

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Aguas de Todos

“Agua de Todos” is an initiative that springs from the joint work of diverse parliamentarians, mayors, ecologists, academics, scientists, and personalities from various fields, including: Girardi; the Rector of the Universidad de Chile, Ennio Vivaldi; and the president of the Academy of Science, Cecilia Hidalgo.

The campaign was launched on Mar. 22, International Water Day, a day when Girardi stressed the importance of this vital element and the fact that parts of Chile were in desperate need. He noted there were 90 cities in the country that relied on water trucks for their supplies.

The campaign’s website explains that water in Chile has become a consumer good because “there are people who freely registered water rights and now they are speculating with it,” so this campaign seeks to “return water to all Chileans.”

So far, the campaign has 20,000 signatures. If you want to join it, you can do so through the following link.

If you want to read more about related water issues, for example, the stir created when the government announced that it would modify water rights, currently given out for terms of 30 years, to become indefinite, you can read about them here in Chile Today.

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