Bishops of El Salvador warn against privatizing water

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Cabezas, Reuters

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SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) — El Salvador’s bishops urged lawmakers to discard
any plans for privatizing water in the Central American country, saying the poor
could not afford to pay the cost of a vital necessity.

In
a terse statement, issued June 12 and titled, “We will not allow the poor
to die of thirst,” the Salvadoran bishops’ conference cited Pope Francis’
encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” which said, “Access
to potable and secure water is a basic, fundamental and universal human right
because it determines the survival of people and therefore is a condition for
the exercising of all other rights.”

The
bishops continued: “As pastors, we are witnesses to the outcry of our
people, who ask for potable water in all homes and could not pay the costs if
(water) is turned into a good, which is subject to market forces.”

El
Salvador’s legislature is starting debate on a national water law. The legislation
is proving controversial because some lawmakers favor increased private-sector
participation in water management.

The
bishops’ conference preferred that public oversight of water resources be
maintained.

“If
a law is approved that grants a private entity the right to decide over
distribution of water in the nation, denying the state this function, we would
be facing an absolutely undemocratic law, which lacks legitimacy,” the
bishops said.

“An
unjust law that violates the rights of the people cannot be admitted.”

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