Children transporting water in an indigenous community in Oaxaca. Photo: @Jose Luis de la Cruz
From May 2nd to 12th, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, Leo Heller, visited Mexico.
Various social organizations exposed inequality in access to water, as they said in a statement: “Notably, these policies have promoted their monopoly, privatization and unsustainable management, including the overexploitation and contamination of water resources on which rural and urban communities depend to live with dignity, leading to multiple and repeated violations of human rights to drinking water and sanitation and other related human rights such as health, by the actions and omissions of both public and private players.”
One of the places visited by the Rapporteur is Chiapas, where he held meetings with state officials, as well as with activists and non-governmental organizations who denounced that FEMSA’s Coca-Cola bottling plant “is obliterating large amounts of water from the inhabitants of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in Chiapas, and the amount left available for the inhabitants has no quality, Dr. Marcos Arana Cedeño, director of the Ombudsman’s Office for the Right to Health in the state claimed. (…) The last problem noted, he stressed, is of particular concern and claimed that the Coca-Cola plant extracts 6,112 cubic meters of water every day; that is to say, 16 million liters of the vital liquid in the municipality, a sufficient quantity to supply 200,000 inhabitants with 80 liters per person daily during a year.”
The Rapporteur publicly presented his preliminary impressions and conclusions on May 12th. He said that in Chiapas he observed indigenous women collecting water “from sources clearly hazardous to their health.” He said: “Indigenous people I spoke to denounced the lack of services and pollution of the water sources on which they depend due to the largely unregulated activities of mining, industry and hydrocarbon extraction companies. Therefore, I call on the Mexican government to urgently expand and improve access to water and sanitation, because despite advances in this area, there is no real provision of such services in homes and in the most marginalized communities, such that it is necessary to give the highest priority to this strategic sector and to guarantee the necessary resources to expand and improve the service for all, including numerous communities in a situation of abandonment. “
The rapporteur was struck by the situation in San Cristobal de Las Casas, where untreated sewage flows into the irrigation canals that supply water to vegetable and fruit crops, which are sold in the city’s markets. “It is really shocking. I went to visit the final discharges of the sewage and is very worrisome, (…) the population consumes the pollutants that the city has generated,” he protested.
Even so, the Mexican government boasts that infrastructure provides access to water and sanitation to more than 90% of the population.
In September, the Rapporteur will submit the complete Mission report with recommendations for the Mexican State to the United Nations Human Rights Council .
For more information in Spanish:
En Chiapas, se violenta el Derecho Humano al Agua Potable y al Saneamiento (OSC, 15 de mayo de 2017)
El agua en México, un “problema crónico”: relator de la ONU (Proceso, a 12 de mayo de 2017)
Comunidades indígenas, víctimas del insuficiente sistema nacional de agua: ONU (Desinformemonos, a 12 de mayo de 2017)
Relator de la ONU para el Derecho al Agua inicia visita en Chiapas (Proceso, a 10 de mayo de 2017)
Evaluarán acceso al agua y saneamiento en México (Centro de Información de las Naciones Unidas, a 26 de abril de 2017)
El acceso a servicios de agua y saneamiento asequibles (Leo Heller, marzo de 2017)
Coca-Cola se bebe el agua de 200 mil habitantes de San Cristóbal de las Casas, acusa especialista (SinEmbargo, a 6 de mayo de 2017)
Las etnias de Chiapas casi sin agua pero ahogadas en Coca-Cola (Proceso, a 5 de febrero de 2016)
“El ataque que ahora nos hace el mal gobierno es el corte de agua y luz eléctrica que hicieron a nuestros compañeros”: Las Abejas de Acteal (Centroprodh, a 10 de mayo de 2017)
For more information from SIPAZ: