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Ten years have passed since the organized and mobilized Uruguayan people confronted the neoliberal privatization of water and sanitation services and preserved this strategic public in the hands of the State as a common good. By doing this, the country managed to set the basis for considering water as a fundamental human right, which was later recognized at international level through the United Nations Organization.
In this framework, a roundtable will be held in Montevideo on October 9th aiming to assess the situation of the defense of water and ecosystems in the country and to plan the strengthening of a participatory management of basins.
The activity is organized by the National Commission in Defense of Water and Life (CNDAV), responsible for the historical victory in 2004, and the central union PitCnt, the Federation of Workers of OSE (water utility) -FFOSE, Public Services International, REDES-AT and the Sustainable Uruguay Program.
The democratic and participatory management of the different water basins of the territory and of public services related to water and sanitation is still considered a huge challenge, inseparable from the environmental and social justice policies of the country, stated REDES-Friends of the Earth in a public statement issued on Wednesday 8.
"This challenge implied advances and spaces for plateaus. The constitutional status of the access and recovery of the drinking water and sanitation management, the incorporation of the issue to unionist and social platforms of the country, the strengthening of public institutions linked to water and human rights face the threat of the appropriation and deterioration of water basins by a concentrated and exclusive agribusiness model, such as extractivism in general".
In defense of sources and management
Meanwhile, representative of FFOSE, Carmen Sosa, said: "a decade after the Constitutional Reform, we would like to say that the struggle continues, we are committed to the defense of water sources, as we have previously done with the participation, management and control of the service".
In addition, the unionist said that the megaprojects that are currently under discussion in the country need to be discussed by the workers in their entirety, taking into account the "environmental liabilities" involved. "Today, we are not being consulted", said the member of the CNDAV and said that although there are participation mechanisms established in the Constitution about water management, such as the Basin Committees and the three Regional Councils created in the country, the involvement of organizations hasn´t been active enough, in part because of communication problems from the State.
About the water and sanitation state company, Sosa highlighted that it has resorted to outsourcing the work force, making it difficult to unionize these workers and employees, and it also has "appropriated" the public institution that governs water.
According to Carmen Sosa, the round table scheduled for October 9 aims to "put the issue on the table and that both the workers and the political actors discuss and commit to the Constitutional Reform we achieved over ten years ago with 60% of the population’s support".
Architect Francisco Beltrame, Environment Ministry; Oscar Rodriguez of Public Services International (PSI); Marcel Achkar, researcher of the Sciences School and member of REDES-Friends of the Earth and the Sustainable Uruguay Program; Carlos Sosa, of OSE´s workers union and Agronomist Anahit Aharonian of CNDAV will participate in the round table.
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