Manifesto to Colombian Citizens, September 9, 2010
Like the rivers which, sooner or later, find their way to the sea, we continue to move our efforts to pass a referendum downstream in spite of the rocks thrown in our path by the opposition… After the slam that the party of Uribe gave our referendum in Congress, refusing to recognize and denying the original text, at the Ninth Assembly of the National Committee for the Defense of Water and Life (CNDAQV) we reiterated our concerns to the new government and we called on all Colombians to continue the struggle for the fundamental right to potable water. We must recognize the importance of this movement, using the right to water as a guiding principle to move us toward a renewal of the public agenda in this country so troubled by a political, humanitarian and environmental crisis such as we have rarely seen in this nation.
The power of our movement, which has not only the legitimacy of public opinion expressed through more than two million signatures, but also the strength of community, social and political efforts in a permanent common search to solve the problem of access to potable water. We want to stop a development model that destroys ecosystems vital to water cycles, the páramos (unique mountain ecosystems found between 3000 to 5000 meters above sea level), forests, rivers and wetlands, and rural areas, inhabited by indigenous and Afro-Colombians. We have a public responsibility to defend new goals which may contribute to a renewal of a national politics thirsty for the ideas we propose. Our decision is reinforced by the recent declaration of the General Assembly of the United Nations that recognizes the essential right to access to water and sanitation. We note the paradox that while the Colombian government opposes our referendum that enshrines this right, the Colombia delegation to the UN voted in favor of the declaration supporting it. This highlights the demagoguery used by the new government. Therefore, we invite everyone to come together to continue the movement and to help us expand, deepen and renew the following objectives:
1. The water movement carries with it enormous potential to contribute to the rebuilding of social networks of active and critical citizens, as well as the discourses, forms of struggle and public agendas of social and political transformation, after so many years of systematic violence against alternative forms of expression and against the social groups that embody the diversity of this country. With its ideas and with its true diversity, the movement for water expresses the need and, at the same time, embodies the possibility for a profound transformation of the dominant political and economic structures, whose environmental and social decrepitude is revealed by the absurd way in which they are benefiting and profiting from the devastation naturally arising from lawlessness and social injustice, indignity and violence, which have degraded national politics through the corrupt practices linked to the privatization and the commoditization of the public and common good.
2. The national electoral process illustrated the difficulties, but also the strengths, of a trend tilting the country toward the right. This rightward trend has been imposed upon us with blood and fire, co-opting thousands of citizens by depicting the country’s needs in the most extreme and naïve way and, prompted by a neoliberal world view, creating a complex separation between the social, the economic and the political. This view, colored by a pragmatic outlook, a tolerance of mischief and shortsightedness typical of mafia-style groups, debases the concept of the public good. That’s why the movement for water represents an opportunity to advance the search for new avenues for civic and collective democratic action and the potential to renew political and social agendas and to develop new ways to address those agendas.
3. The platform of the proposed referendum uses the political heritage of the movement, not only for its content (see box at end), but also for its the legitimacy that has been lent to it by more than two million citizen nationwide. This is no small thing in an environment riddled with illegitimacy and it provides us with political capital upon which to build. In this sense, the proposals in the Referendum on Water must become a program for a struggle that promotes and develops the entire country, while municipal and departmental committees become the stage for coordination of multiple social struggles that, linked to water issues, make the proposals of the Referendum a realit.
4. We propose to define a strategic vision of the Movement for Water based on the following:
a. The ratification of the proposals for the country that were in the referendum, making its key ideas a force within the construction of a citizens’ social movement, tand the idea of applying themn nationally, regional and locally in order to build comprehensive public agendas which will serve as alternatives to the models of export development, free trade, agribusiness and the extraction of natural resources, among other aspects of the current dominant political and economic discourse.
b. The continuance of the dynamic convergence of the struggles over water use, including the prevention of water diversions, the misuse of water by agribusiness, the damming of rivers, the fight against the use of large-scale mining as a basis for our development and all forms of privatization, emphasizing the protection of the páramos, and the importance of water cycles in the development national and regional nutritional sovereignty, security and autonomy, as well as other fundamental issues.
c. A political agreement to continue together, united in this social movement centered around the above two points and a joint work plan, based on the formal declaration of the start of this national movement's third stage with several lines of action:
1) The continuity of the organizational structures that have been brewing in the movement, such as the National Committee in Defense of Water and Life (CNDAV) the territorial, departmental and municipal committees, the groups building citizen initiatives, etc. and the call for joint events and workshops at the national, regional and local levels.
2) A national information and communication campaign to protest the blocking of a participatory democracy and which has expressed by the open and blatant disregard for the will of more than two million people, by a Congress comprised of an illegitimate parliamentary majority whose members have been accused of various crimes.
3) A national campaign and regional struggles against departmental plans for water which further privatization and exclusion from access to drinking water.
4) An impetus to the process of organiing community water systems throughout the country.
5) Given the refusal of the National Registry of Civil Status to authorize our collecting additional signatures that would have allowed the promotion of the referendum in accordance with the provisions of Law 134 of 94, we invite everyone to propose alternative symbolic forms of national and/or regional expressions of the support of the Colombian people for the referendum proposals. The definition of these forms of expression of our collective would be a subject of the next national assembly of the movement.
6) To try to affect wherever and however in the next departmental and municipal plans of development and the revision of planning and zoning schemes to conform to the proposals of the referendum.
7) The continuation of legal proceedings (guardianships, claims, inquiries, etc.), which are ongoing or which are yet to be brought.
JOY, FRIENDS OF THE WATER, JOY, THE FUTURE LIES AHEAD AND AWAITS US. THE DROP OF WATER THAT PERSISTS PIERCES THE HARDEST STONES AND OPENS THE PASSAGE OF OUR FRUITFUL RIVERS! LONG LIVE THE MOVEMENT OF THE WATER THAT ROCKS OUR HOPE ON ITS WAVES.
SIGNED: THE COMMITTEE OF PROMOTERS OF THE REFERENDUM FOR WATER, THE ORGANIZATIONS AND PERSONS WHO ARE PART OF THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE IN DEFENSE OF WATER AND OF LIFE, AND ALL THE ORGANIZATIONS AND PEOPLE WHO WANT TO JOIN THE MOVEMENT FOR WATER.