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Jul 09 2007
Supplied or written by Carmen Sosa

Comrades of the RED VIDA Outreach Committee
Córdoba June 29, 2007

After a period of consultation with various member organizations, the  general assembly of the Popular Commission for the Recuperation of Córdoba's Water  agreed on the following on June 26, 2007: To actively participate in the popular consultation regarding the water contracts called for by the municipal government for September 2nd (also the day of Governor, legislative and council elections) by developing the "Other No Campaign" explained in the attached document Open Letter to  Córdoba Residents)

It was resolved that we solicit the Red Vida--a network that always joins us in our struggles--to analyze the possibility of standing with us in this campaign. We ask that you be in touch with us to let us know in what way that might be possible.

We also request that you spread the word about this campaign by sending around our request for support to all the networks and organizations that fight for water rights so that we can have some solidarity as we head towards Argentina's first popular consultation regarding water. And with this we hope to advance in our struggle towards our final goal: the creation of a Public, Communal and Integral User and Worker Managed Water and Cleaning Company.

We await your response in order to formalize our requests concerning solidarity support and what you believe are the best options. Please be in touch if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns.

Regards and hugs to all of you,

Popular Commission for the Recuperation of Córdoba's Water.

Contact Information: Gustavo Spedale 

Cell.: (54) 0351 - 156180852
 Landline: 4791657

Open Letter to Cordoba Residents

Re: The Popular Consultation on Water

Our Campaign: The Other No

Córdoba June 26, 2007

The Popular Commission for the Recuperation of Water, after more than two years since its creation, after the mobilizations that defeated the 2006 tariff hike attempts, after the actions that stopped Suez-Roggio’s abuses in Córdoba and after achieving various other accomplishments throughout the global struggle to defend our water and our life, together with the Inter-American Vigilance for the Defense and the Right to Water Network (RED VIDA), declares the  following:

*We believe that the Popular Consultation regarding water contracts was not a gift given to us but in fact a conquest by the people of Córdoba, It is an advancement in which we the people are once again protagonists—a necessary step towards reappropriating our rights. For the first time, the popular movement has created an instrument of semi-direct democracy in Córdoba. Though we acknowledge that its outcome has institutional impact, it does have a political one.

*We declare that we will not abandon the use of mobilization and direct action when our water and human rights are trampled upon. For this reason, our objectives have not been reduced to the electoral sphere; we do not align ourselves with any party, candidate, political or economic group.

 *We believe that “this Consultation” which only asks whether or not we agree with the existing water contracts is deceptive: it leaves open the question of the validity of other forms of privatization like that proposed by the National Ombudsman, Dr. Eduardo Mondino who at the behest of the World Bank, backed the creation of mixed water companies in the Regional Water Forum (May 9th-11th 2007). This program maintains that the paradigm pushed for by the International Financial Institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank is a viable alternative to water privatization despite the fact that they have already failed in Argentina and other places around the world.

*Our true objective here is to get overcome the failures of the “privatization state” that was born through the corruption of the “contract nation,” in which the state puts up the investment and the businesses owners walk away with the profits. This practices treat the right to water and life as a if it were a product that could be regulated by the capitalist cycles and crises that the business owners themselves generate.

*Given these considerations, the Popular Commission for the Recuperation of Our Water calls for the active participation against and a vote NO to extending the fraudulent contract with Suez-Roggio (Aguas Cordobesas)

*We also call for this NO vote to represent “THE OTHER NO” against the efforts being carried out to create  mixed State-Private companies or mixed State-Cooperative companies (but that are private) as our service providers.

The Commission ratifies its active participation in the water contract Consultation. However, we refuse to become involved in the municipal, provincial, council or legislative elections also taking place on September 2, 2007. We offer our support neither to any specific candidate or to any political party.

*The OTHER NO campaign tries to transcend institutional representation’s disempowering game and therefore reject any attempt to use the Cordoba’s people right to water as way of gaining electoral advantage. 

*The OTHER NO declares we must be the ones to create the new conditions for the re-appropriation of water towards the construction of a Public Communal and Integral User and Worker Operated Water and Sanitation Company.

From this OTHER NO perspective, we affirm the following:

*Water is a common good and access to it is a basic, fundamental and inalienable human right. *It belongs to the earth, our communities, the people and humanity.

*It is a basic element of life on this planet

*Water is a product that can be commercialized and so we reject all types of privatization including mixed public-private companies.

*The management and control of water should always remain in the public, communal, and participative sphere and must never be used for profit because it is indispensable for life.

 *We demand that access to water ought to be the responsibility of state through investment. All local, provincial and national government institutions must work towards this end.

 *It must be guaranteed that the current generation show solidarity with future generations and so we reject this neoliberal, consumer system that inevitably leads to Mother Earth’s over exploitation.

 *It is necessary our  eco-systems be sustainable managed and that we preserve the Hydrolic cycle through the regulation of land and the conservation of natural environments. For this to occur, we must make hydro-basins popularly-controlled, planned and managed.

*It is imperative that the organizations and social-popular movements include these principles in our programs and fight for these basic ideas to be institutionalized in our community, municipal, provincial and national legal framework.

We, THE OTHER NO campaign, demand:

*The punishment of all those responsible for the brutal repression against the people during the shameful and fraudulent November 29th  legislative session which allowed  Suez-Roggio contract to continue only through the use of blood and fire.

*The exclusion of water and sanitation from the market laws imposed by the World Trade Organization, Bilateral Trade Agreements and all other international trade and investment accords that are still in affect here in our country and province.

*The recuperation of our sovereignty by denouncing the Bilateral Trade Agreements between our country and France that expired 6 years ago but that are given automatic annual renewal. It is through this agreement that Suez brought a lawsuit against our country in CIADI (the court created by the World Bank to hear international trade disputes), demanding $1.7 billion dollars (including $100 million in damages specifically against Córdoba). In virtue of the November 29th addendum, Suez was also guaranteed the ability to sue anytime between the years 2007 and 2016 for immeasurable amounts because as service operator, it has the express right to go to the World Bank in order to secure even more advantageous conditions than what their current contract already provides. This could mean multimillion dollar (or more) payments that might be charged to the people of Cordoba.

*The bringing of a lawsuit against those publicly responsible for the contract renegotiation: Governor De La Sota y el Vice-Governor Schiaretti and the 40 legislators of the Union of Córdoba who voted. These people turned over not only our common wealth but also our sovereignty and they mortgaged out our future. Specifically, they violated article 29 of our National Constitution which outlaws “dreadful traitors of the nation.” They are also personally accountable for the indemnification for the damages suffered by the people of Córdoba.

*The repeal of “law” 9279 passed on December 28, 2005 (after it was defeated by a popular mobilization) that tries to set a more than 500% tariff increase and the November 29, 2006 “minute addendum.”

*The immediate repeal of four-pronged tariff imposed by this “law”—another demonstration of our nation’s swindling because it deals with more than 15% price hikes during 2007 (election year) but beginning in 2008, it establishes index formulas based on inflationary indicators which would progressively and scandalously become un-payable. (According to projections, by July 2008 we would be paying somewhere between 300% and 500% of our current rates).

*The repeal of the restriction against the m3. of domestic service.

*The repeal of the service measure based on an unpredictable economic equation which through tricks and injustices establishes benefits in favor of Suez Roggio.

*The repeal and recuperation of what was paid to Suez Roggio by the provincial government: $9.6 million dollars in 2006, $12.6 million in 2007 and $24.7 million for not paying for the water royalty. 

*Repossession of Aguas Cordobesas by the provincial government and an investigation into the secret and illegal government payments such as Suez Roggio’s debt with the European Investment Bank--$40 million that was neither payed back nor used for projects or works.

*The expansion of service to the Bolsones and poor areas of the city that were promised potable water via the network but that currently still lack access.

 *The expansion and works that Aguas Cordobesas deemed un-profitable through the “reasoning” that “these zones are not cost-effective.” This is a perverse and inhumane criterion with which our own government not only agrees with but also has sanctioned by law.

*Indemnification to the residents of the city’s 12 neighborhoods (about 50,000 users) who for years drank water contaminated with nitrates and who continue consuming it since Aguas Codrobesas now mixes contaminated water with potable water without adequate safety precautions. Rather than working on a solution to the problem, Aguas Cordobesas continues their discrimination by sometimes charging double.

*The repeal of the charges and penalties against users who owe the company or those who suffered unfair interest rates.

*The repeal of the savage and inhuman water service cut-offs for failure to pay.

Given this OTHER NO, we reject:

*The prolongation of the contract until 2027. This time period is incompatible with the fact that for the population water is essential and that throughout the world and in Córdoba in particular water has become a very complex issue. This Suez-Roggio contract is in a state of permanent negotiation. Moreover, there are convictions against employees of Suez-Roggio and corrupt politicians for various crimes in La Paz (Bolivia) Maldonado (Uruguay), Grenoble (France), Atlanta, (USE), Manila (Phillipines), Buenos Aires y Santa Fe (Argentina) among others. It is clear that they are greedy even to the detriment of human life.

*For being illegitimate, every one of indemnification lawsuits against the province for recuperation of profits and/or indemnification by the transnational corporations, cooperatives, national companies, or individuals that participated in the looting of our nation’s resources or common goods.

*The official discourse of “preserving the natural resource that is water” by enforcing a consumption limit of 25 m3.  This is a problematic limit because it does not provide for the basic necessities of a typical family and because it creates a double injustice: on the one hand, it enables those sectors most able to pay to abuse their use of water and on the other hand, it generates another type of extraordinary profit instead of using this resource for the benefit of the people of Córdoba.

*The urban mega-projects  like Route 20 that will supply those like the Nuevo Puerto San Roque Corporation where Roggio also operates along side the provincial and municipal government. This will affect the Dique water reserves because their only real objective is to seize the surrounding lands in order to carryout their business related with Timba and other contaminants that will jeopardize our primary water reserve.

We, the OTHER NO, denounce:

*Aguas Cordobesas (Suez-Roggio) for not complying with their investment promises.

*The lack of payment of their corresponding royalties and the attempt to enforce tariffs which are almost impossible for the society to pay.

*The lack of reinvestment of profits in the improvement in the quality and quantity of service or any other beneficial social project.

*The subcontracting of works in addition to being precarious with the the lives of its projects’ workers in an attempt to lower costs and maximize profits.

*Private water management which lacks transparency and has a tendency to encourage corruption.

*Water service in the hands of Suez Roggio as a private monopoly that impedes the state or the users from having any control in the process.

*Public institutions in charge of regulating and management control such as ERSEP who were co-opted by capitalist groups or which have been diluted of their real rule, making them incapable of carrying out their mission.

*The main supply pipeline that sat broken for more than 5 days (starting on Saturday June 3rd), depriving 42 neighborhoods and more than 70,000 people of their water supply. The broken section had been replaced by Aguas Cordobesas just a few years ago by a cement tube covered in asbestos (a material banned for its carcinogenic properties). It was also revealed the broken part could not be repaired in time or in the right way because the valve and closure system was also destroyed because in the 10 years since privatization no maintenance was carried out. This, in addition to the fact that Suez-Roggio lies about its treatment and its process to disinfect its water even though it charges for Ozono treatment (the only chemical proven to eliminate bacteria and viruses that live in the water contaminated by San Roque) but that it never carried out in order to cut costs. This crisis and other parts of recent history reveal the irresponsibility of and the serious problem that this company and that provincial government have become. They have claimed over 1,400,000 victims now sick because of the continuing lies concerning the quantity and quality of water paid for at a price of gold that keeps climbing despite the fact that it is economically inviable for the city’s poor.

THE OTHER NO campaign therefore calls for:

Everyone to participate actively in this campaign. We encourage every neighborhood, CPC, university department, parish, school, plaza or any other working place, to organize informational activities and to call for a NO vote on the proposal to prolong the Suez-Roggio-Aguas Cordobesas contract. And once our NO has triumphed, we will all march together, organized and mobilized ready to build a public, communal, participative and integral water and sanitation system.






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