WaterMarch 30, 2009
For a long time I’ve been struck by one of the most significant distinctions between US and Latin American social movements, the level of intersectional/interlocking dialogue and active construction between activists in different sectors and working on separate issues. A friend joked to me that Colombia is the country of the “network of the network,” with at least a dozen intersectional networks like the CONAP, Proceso Popular, COEUROPA, and then sectoral and regional subgroups.
I saw this clearly on March 18 at a demonstration in the capital to support a national referendum that would insert the human right to water in the country’s constitution, the March in Defense of Water. Water privatization has yet to get a national focus in the US, even though Atlanta and some midwestern cities have gone private. In Colombia, where water is always listed by indigenous and campesino groups in the list of coveted resources available in rural zones, and 50% of the utilities have been privatized in 15 years, it’s a different story. It was a festival of solidarity. Many different public and private sector unions (including local delegations from around the country), the ONIC indigenous federation, environmentalists, water consumers associations, disabled activists, high school and university students, artists, anarchist collectives, feminists – everyone had their banner, and most a rally speaking slot. A TON of youth came out and organized a huge, modified nursery school game in the middle of the march.
And the music. Aterciopelados have been involved in the fight to preserve natural water sources for years, naming their most recent album Rio (river) and travelling by boat to collect signatures for the referendum. Apparently they played at a different rally last weekend. Here’s their “Cancion Protesta.”
This local all-women hip-hop group played at the March 18th rally. Por Razones de Estado, For Reasons of State.