Were it not tragic, we might laugh at a recent event in the United States about the “individual and/or family storage of this vital element”!
Gary Harrington, a resident of a town in the state of Oregon, was collecting rainwater in tanks which he had on his property, but since this good is scarce and no one wants to lose business, the State has criminalized his collection and sentenced him on nine charges, to 30 days in jail and a US$ 1,500 fine.
Does by any chance rainwater have an owner? Well, in this corrupt, predatorial and increasingly decadent system, indeed it does! And the owners are not we (the workers and small farmers in need of the vital fluid), but the big banks, that are buying water reserves throughout the world, and governments which, with a speed they do not have for other stuff, are limiting our ability to be self-sufficient in it.
Nevertheless, as usual in this system, a few big billionaires are gearing up for the future, such as T. Boone Pickens, who owns the rights to water from the Ogallala Aquifer (in the North American plains), which drains about 245 billion liters of water per year, and no one dares to condemn him for it.
That is, the “new world order” states that banks and billionaires can become owners of aquifers, springs and lakes while ordinary people do not have even the right to gather the water that “falls from the sky.”
And it won’t be just the water from the rain or on the ground that we will be banned from storing, but also the sun shining on us. The Spanish government, for example, tries to force those who place a solar panel system for their energy self-sufficiency to pay a nefarious tax through a tax amortization of the good for 31 years.
Which means that the production of renewable energy has also become a strategic commodity, making fabulous profits, which is used to sink more and more countries in the hands of a handful of bankers, through the appropriation and privatization of natural resources, instead of being resources that affirm our sovereignty and independence.
The banks and private corporations that transcend national boundaries are associated with other technology companies, with investment and insurance banks, with “sovereign wealth funds” and public sector pension funds, in order to acquire rights on water reserves and treatment technologies, privatize public services, infrastructure, etc., predicting that in a relatively short time water will replace oil, raw materials and precious metals as the biggest source of profit.
Because, let’s be clear, when we talk about water we talk about right of humanity to use aquifers, lakes, rivers and natural springs and along with this right, the obligation of states of purifying these waters, of treating drinking water, of providing basic sanitation, of building infrastructure for supplying, of developing irrigation and drilling technologies and towards even the minor sectors involved in the production and sale of bottled water, vending machines, trucks and supply tanks.
Anything that has to do with natural resources, with the use of water and sunlight, must be an inalienable right of the people, guaranteed by the state, rather than a machine for profit making through privatization made by big multinationals and banks with the approval of each state.
For example, Citigroup encourages owners of rights over the water to sell it to fracking companies (which obtain oil through the fracture of soil rich in shale) and not to farmers, because the fracking water is sold at a price sixty times higher, since 80% of it can’t be reused because it is ten times more salted than sea water (and each oil well drilled by fracking requires between 11 and 18 million liters of water). On the other hand, the treatment of ballast water (used in navigation for stabilizing of ships) can rapidly reach a value of about 50 billion dollars per year in a very short time, jumping from some 1.3 or 1.4 billion currently, due to the increase in maritime traffic, which transfers from one place to another million of tonnes of ballast water, in which “travel”, adhered to the keels of the ships, from bacteria to plankton to larvae and lead to a serious threat of contamination and loss of biodiversity, so that multinationals begin to prepare for this new business.
So, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays Bank, BlackStone Group, Allianz and HSBC, among other conglomerates; and characters such as the former US President George Bush [father] and a few other magnates in Hong Kong, the Philippines and other countries take possession of this vital element all over the world and privatize it as any commodity, forcing the peoples to pay, beg and enslave themselves for it.
Water scarcity was deemed one of the top five risks of this century, even more serious than the shortage of food and energy. And then … they came, the vultures of the world, ever vigilant to plunder the peoples, in this case, with millions invested in the purchase of infrastructure and water supplies worldwide, allowing them to “rescue” (as they always do) at the low, low price of more poverty, subjugating us with their talons in exchange for a glass of water… and a tad of sunshine.
This simple analysis might seem overblown or at least far away in time and therefore not deserving of our immediate concern. It is not, however, far off in time nor should it stop worrying us. There have been facts that show that it is a very present reality, as in the 2000 Water War in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where the privatization of water demanded by the World Bank, through a contract between the multinational corporation Bechtel and the then president Hugo Banzer, made the tariffs rise by more than 50%, causing an uprising of the population. The government declared martial law, repressed the demonstrations, killed a young man of 17 and wounded 170 demonstrators. Nevertheless, amidst the collapse of the Bolivian economy and the growing protests, the government decided to terminate the contract with the multinational.
Another recent example that shows how much the situation is worrying is the lack of water in several parts of São Paulo, the Brazilian richest state, with over 44 million inhabitants, whose levels of water reservoirs have dropped considerably to the point where it was necessary to use water from the so-called “dead volume” of the reservoirs. The excuse was the drought, but it is easy to blame “St. Peter” [folk culture in Brazil says St. Peter is responsible for rainfall] when reality shows that it is the governments that ration water and do not make the investments needed to ensure the supply, which are their responsibility.
Water is and will remain essential to our lives, but is finite and not subject to replacement by another product. For this reason, the economic elites that dominate the globe focus their efforts in its future control and do so with the complicity of national states, through agreements that are always adverse to the people.
If for many thousands of years water flowed freely and everyone could enjoy it as it was not owned by anyone, today, thanks to the greed of capitalism in decay, it has become a global strategic commodity for which demand grows, and it is up to all of us to keep it from getting into private hands, under the ownership of world oligopolies.
The struggle for water is ultimately a struggle for life, which is inextricably linked to the struggle to build a just and egalitarian society, a socialist society where all of us can, like for thousands years we have, freely enjoy the rivers, springs and waterways, which must be at the service of all of the new society.
And it is not reciting, let alone utopia, think of a new society and strive for it, because the fate of humanity, our lives and our resources are more and more at risk and we will face a genuine savagery unless we are able to build a alternative to free us.
If we do not start to organize ourselves for it, as, by the way, the capitalists and imperialism do for their interests, there will come a time when we will have to pay for the water that invades our homes in floods, and even run the risk of going to prison as Harrington, if we decide to open our mouths to the skies when it rains. Because water is “liquid gold”, likely to be completely privatized and hence bringing more misery and suffering for the people.
In the twentieth century, the Chinese revolution was necessary so that each inhabitant of that country could eat a bowl of rice a day. In a near future, will it be necessary to do revolutions to drink water?
Tax on sunlight: https://www.avaaz.org/es/ano_al_impuesto_al_sol_fb/?fpla
Ballast water and invader species: www.ecologistasenaccion.org
Translation: Gabriel Tolstoy