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Privatization and plunder of fresh water in Mesoamerica

Privatization and plunder of fresh water in Mesoamerica


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By Gian Carlo Delgado Ramos

The PPP (Plan Puebla Panama) has launched an apparently secondary project, which under the cover of being an initiative of "prevention and mitigation of disasters", intends to install a "hydrometeorological information structure for competitiveness"

Faced with the eminent freshwater crisis that threatens to worsen, both due to its scarcity, contamination in many cases irreversibly, its conversion to salt water by evaporation or the invasion of the sea into coastal aquifers due to the excessive decrease of its internal levels of water, as well as, and particularly importantly, due to the increasing overheating of the planet that will lead to an increase in phenomena, such as major floods and long-term droughts (redefining hydrically rich spaces -hot stains and wet stains (3 ) -, reducing water quality, biological productivity and river habitats); the investigation into the strategic nature of water from the analysis of its location, access and management of existing reserves (natural and artificial - such as the 35 thousand dams that are currently calculated have been built since 1950, totaling more than 40 thousand worldwide ( 4) -), it is fundamental and urgent.

If we consider from the outset that the geographical location of humid regions will tend to change in the form of changes in temperature and precipitation as a consequence of global warming - an effect that begins to have dramatic manifestations such as the detachment of more than 20 giant icebergs from the Antarctica (5) -, and that some of the coastal ecosystems such as saltwater marshes, coral reefs, mangrove ecosystems and river deltas, are particularly at risk of climate change and stress. The minimal alteration in these ecosystems generates an impact on fresh water reserves and biodiversity, among other effects; It is therefore clear that the redefinition and revaluation of the geographic spaces rich in this resource, which are already heterogeneous, acquire a new dimension of growing dispute, both geoeconomic and geopolitical.

Taking into account that only some spaces are the main generators of fresh water and that close to 40% of the world population depends on 214 river systems - international (6) -, each of which is shared by one or more nations, it is Expect an intensification of interstate conflicts for the control and usufruct of this vital and unique resource. In fact, there are already a considerable number of disputes. Water struggles that could trigger warfare are possible, above all, around the waters of the Nile, Indus, Ganges, Jordan, Tigris and Euphrates (7). In Latin America, according to the Intragovernment Panel on Climate Change, these conflicts could involve Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama and other countries whose territories have to do with the Andes mountain range.

It should be noted that the current type and rate of consumption of fresh water responds to the predatory development of capitalism. For example, every 20 years the consumption of fresh water doubles; more than twice the growth rate of the world population. Much of this consumption is lost in leaks, but contrary to the popular image, direct human consumption corresponds to only 10% of the type of fresh water use. 25% is consumed by industrial activities and between 65 and 70% is paid to agricultural activities. As of the latter, most of the water consumption is managed by agro-industries, it should be considered as part of the highly predatory industrial activities of this vital resource. This percentage relationship is constantly being redefined, especially when old and new production processes make massive use of water, such as the automotive industry. On average, it takes 400 thousand liters of water to make a car. In the electroinformatics industry, thousands of liters of deionized water are used to manufacture processors, while in the exploitation of unconventional oil reserves, such as the oil sands of Canandá, 9 barrels of water are required to extract 1 oil (8).

Faced with the increase in the consumption needs of the industry and the large metropolitan centers, an attempt has been made to overcome this growing scarcity at the cost of the looting of multiple sources that feed those pockets of accelerated and growing capitalist consumption of fresh water. Multiple projects that monopolize in a more efficient way the different water reserves of the planet have been unleashed. Among them (9), it is worth mentioning the diversion of the rivers of Canada and Alaska towards the USA (a total of 308 km) to store 3,500 km3 of which 61% would be used in the USA, 19% Mexico and 21% Canada. Another example was the USSR project (canceled in 1986) called the project of the century. It consists of diverting the course of the 3 most important rivers in the north of the former USSR that flow into the Arctic slope, the Irtysh, Ob and Yeniei. Diversion of 120 km3 of water for irrigation of 2200 km2. of land in Central Asia. One more case is that of China, which plans to divert 5% of the water from the Yangtse River to the semi-arid lands located in the northeast of that country, building an aqueduct of 1,000 km. Likewise, we can add the case of the Libyan project to extract 40 thousand m3 per year from the Kufra River Aquifer located in the Sahara desert. It is a 1,860 km aqueduct that is being built by a South Korean MNC at a cost of 32 billion dollars and that would empty the aquifer in a period of 40 to 50 years, affecting not only the reserves available for Libya, but also for the whole region. We can also mention the European plans, which from the European Water Network intend to access, over the course of a decade, the water reserves of the Alps to feed cities in Spain and / or Greece, instead of being part of the Vienna reserves.

The desalination of seawater (artificial reserves) is representing a source of 10 million m3 of fresh water per day worldwide. At this point we come across the most important water desalination project in the world, which is located in the Negev desert - a North American Water and Power Alliance program designed since 1964-. Or the innovative but not negligible desalination of water from the icebergs to supply the US, Australia and the Atacama Desert - an alternative 100 times cheaper than the diversion of rivers and the construction of treatment plants.

There is thus a tendency to monopolize the main sources of water, which should be understood as the first steps towards their privatization by the capitals involved in the business; a process that has been taking shape in various ways and where the main actors are international organizations - the WB et al and their MNCs. Thus, a few actors seek to exercise in the most blatant way the collection of what Marx called the rent of the land, and that now only intensifies "the" comparative hydric advantage of the spaces, in the face of a crisis of that world resource of great importance. wingspan.

The World Bank's concern is obvious to place the MNCs of the creditors in the big water business as managers of the main fresh water reserves in the world, as well as its storage, distribution and purification.
To achieve this, the World Bank, on the one hand, promotes the concentration of "water basin management" in the hands of international NGOs that finance -CI, WWF and others that receive funds directly from AID-. The resources of the International Cooperation Agencies of Spain and Germany, among others, have generally been restricted to regulated investment in infrastructure (aqueducts, dams, etc.), leaving room for US capital to directly control and benefit from the resource and not the from other countries - a phenomenon at least markedly in LA, a highly biodiverse area that, by attracting rains, also becomes highly rich in water.

This responds both to the growing, profoundly wasteful needs of the US, and to the intense crisis in its available reserves. According to conservative estimates, in the near future, only the industrial sector of that country will be consuming more than 1,500 billion liters of fresh water and generating 300 billion liters of waste per year (10). These figures do not include the amount of water consumed by the agricultural sector in that country - practically of an agro-industrial nature - and which is positioned as the "breadbasket of the world" given the size of its production. To this must be added the water necessary to supply wastefully the large American urban centers.

Faced with these "needs", the crisis in the US water reserves is already worrying. For example, California's aquifers are drying up, the Colorado River is being "milked" to the max, and water levels in California's San Joaquin Valley have dropped, in some areas, by more than 10 m. in the last 50 years. According to the Department of Water Resources of that northern State, it is estimated that by 2020, if no more sources of water are found, there will be a shortage as great as the amount of water currently consumed in total by all its large, medium and small cities. The city of Tucson also experiences adverse conditions. Totally depending on water from aquifers, it has increased the levels and rates of extraction due to the increase in the number of wells - some of them going from 150 to 450 m deep. Still, it has started importing water from the Colorado River and buying water-rich land to grab the rights to the liquid. Projections for Albuquerque, New Mexico also show that if the rates of extraction of water from the aquifers continue, the levels will decrease by another 20 m by 2020 and the main cities of the region would "dry up" in 10 to 20 years. Even in the rainy suburbs of Seattle, Washington water consumption has skyrocketed, estimating that in 20 years it would begin to run short; largely due to the high consumption of the industry located in that area. In El Paso, Texas, all water sources would be finished by 2030 and in northeast Kansas the water shortage is so severe that the construction of an aqueduct to the already over-exploited Missouri River is already being discussed in government circles in that state. . The sandy aquifer located along the Illinois-Wisconsin border that feeds the cities of Chicago and Milwaukee, among other settlements, is being intensely emptied, a situation that in the near future would place these urban centers in a critical situation. The Ipswich River in Massachusetts is "thinning" fast. Consequently, eastern cities, such as Philadelphia and Washington, are already beginning to seek new sources of water to ensure that their needs are met in the long term. The rates of water extraction in the important aquifer system of southeast Florida of approximately 6.6 million liters per minute, exceed those of its injection and despite reaching a dimension of 200 thousand km2 in an area that extends to other States apart from Florida, its water level has been falling steadily, jeopardizing the ability of Florida and neighboring states to obtain that resource in the long term.

In addition to the aforementioned hemispheric monopoly to guarantee that US capital "manages and benefits" water resources through "conservation" and / or privatization projects of watersheds, aquifers, etc .; Also, on the other hand, as a complementary mechanism to solve the intense freshwater crisis that is beginning to experience, the partial or total privatization (concessions) (11) of the world distribution, storage and purification systems is strategic, all of those that meet the needs of big cities, right where the big business is.

It is not surprising then that US MNCs such as Enron Springs, Monsanto Wells and Bechtel Co., the French Suez / ONDEO division (formerly Lyonnaise des Eaux) and Vivendi, the Spanish Aguas de Valencia and Unión FENOSA ACEX, or the Thames Water, among others. Process only possible after governments are abandoning control of national water sources by participating in treaties or trade arrangements such as NAFTA or WTO, from which the right to manage water resources is transferred to private initiative under arguments already very worn out in the privatization of other national strategic assets: the need to improve the poor service provided by the parastatals "and the" absence of public budget. "

Although these MNCs, water giants, are the most active players in the liquid business, other multinationals, especially those that make massive use of water, have sought to acquire land rich in water or at least have been awarded their "water rights ", in addition to the concessions that they agree to with local governments so that they subsidize their water both in terms of volume and price. Such is the case of General Motors, Ford, Intel (12) and other multinationals or "silicon" companies; or in the case of Mexico and Latin America in general, the multinational chemical, mining, oil and coal, automotive, and the various textile or other merchandise maquiladora industries. Both industrial interests for accessing, managing and making use of water have boosted the market for buying and selling, theft, forgery and speculation of water rights titles.

Consequently, it can be identified, on the one hand, the urgency of the WB-IDB to update and detail studies on the volumes of water, the potentialities of mountains and streams to store it, the capacity to generate electricity, weather forecasts, etc. But also, on the other hand, the growing bid for the purchase or concession of both the so-called "water rights", as well as the strategic assets for the extraction, purification, distribution, storage and energy use (hydroelectric) of water - case of the alliance for investment in this area between General Electric-BM-George Soros (13) -. Hence the frequency of private mega-projects for the planning and construction of dams, aqueducts, waterways, hydroelectric plants, desalination and water treatment plants, water collection and distribution networks, etc.

It is striking that the PPP has launched an apparently secondary project, which under the cover of being an initiative of "prevention and mitigation of disasters", intends to install a "hydrometeorological information structure for competitiveness", which, ... will increase the supply of hydrometeorological and climatic information (adjusted to the needs of users or clients), will strengthen national capacities in the collection and analysis of basic data, the dissemination and commercialization of meteorological products with added value and will create a regional system for the production and exchange forecasting and information, integrating national and regional capacities and resources (14).

For this, it will be financed,

… A) the expansion and improvement of telecommunication networks, b) the creation of Regional Operational Centers (and their national operational units) by area of ​​work, including forest fires, marine services, radars, weather and climate forecasts. c) the preparation of strategic plans for the development of national hydrometeorological services (including evaluations of the institutional and legal framework, financing, human resources and commercialization of their services); and d) the creation of legal and administrative frameworks for the commercialization of value-added meteorological services and products (15).

Furthermore, it can be read,… when an agreement is reached on the modalities of the Project, the Governments, through the pertinent authorities, undertake to… present a strategic plan for the development of national meteorological and water services, based on a diagnosis of the legal and institutional frameworks of the national services and a study of the market for commercial hydrometeorological products (16).

That is to say, it seeks to assemble a regional team that keeps up-to-date information on, among other issues, the location of water and its projection in the near future in order to "commercialize meteorological products with added value", something that stands out for its trait not very specific and at the same time generalizing, since it can be useful information for agribusiness, aviation, transport, etc; and even the sale of "surplus" water, for example from the "selective" purchase of "water rights" in highly wealthy areas or areas with predictions of being so.

To consolidate the project, an incursion of the WB-IDB into the decision-making apparatus is necessarily included, as it functions as a co-government that actively participates in the design and constitution of the legal frameworks that have to regulate the "hydrometeorological services" and that would undoubtedly have repercussions in "modernizing" reforms in the management of water resources in the region, based on the aforementioned strategic plans for the development of national and regional meteorological and water services.

But what this "modernization" refers to is the decentralization of the "exploitation functions and the establishment of a regulatory system" designed from Washington and executed by peripheral elites. Thus, from the horizontalization of the sector (17), the most profitable fractions of the same can be privatized in favor of foreign capital, so that in the typical language of the World Bank, it is possible to "improve the functioning of public services , even in the public sector. (18) "In this sense, it has been tried that the regulation of water-related services is done" basically company by company, since each municipality or State is responsible for regulation ( 19) "and no longer to the Federation. An act consistent with the World Bank guidelines to promote the unequal and advantageous relationship of the World Bank-territories.

The IDB's Strategy for Integrated Water Resources Management makes clear its conception of such "modernization," when it states, even in italics: ... The Bank will support and encourage the participation of the private sector and a public sector with fluid and regulatory capacities in all activities and services related to water; as important components of expanded actions for the modernization of sub-sectors of water supply and sanitation, hydroelectric and irrigation, as well as of the sector of water resources as a whole (20).

In this context, as a 1998 ECLAC document indicates,… almost all the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean have announced a policy of increasing private participation in public services related to water… only in some countries The function of managing water supply and sanitation services has been transferred to the private sector, although other functions within these services, of a more technical nature, have effectively been transferred in many countries ... in Latin America there are only four countries in which The main management responsibilities for water-related public services have been transferred to the private sector. Only in one of the four, namely Argentina, have private companies been entrusted with the management of important water supply and sanitation systems (21).

This trend of "opening up to private participation in public services related to water has created many and very different investment opportunities", concludes ECLAC adding, ... the most interesting perhaps is the possibility of taking over the service, either through a direct purchase or concession arrangement, but the opportunities don't stop there. Management contracts can also provide significant opportunities… (22).

The intention is to create opportunities for the private sector of a juicy business that clearly promises a lot. According to a WB document cited by Barlow and Clarke, financial support in the promotion for the privatization of assets includes,… cash contributions during the construction period; subsidies during the operating period, e.g. in the form of non-refundable grants; and a favorable tax regime -including tax holidays, refunding of tax on construction and operating costs (23) ".

Furthermore, in order to guarantee business to "interested" multinationals -and which are the ones promoted by the World Bank, not others-, "it is necessary to minimize the risks transferred to the private sector," so it is expected that in these cases, the State provide the MNCs with financial guarantees. These include guarantees to access loans and earnings. Hence, many WB et al "financing" projects include clauses that specify that the loan would be approved to the extent that the national State subject to the loan undertakes to provide guarantees to the private operators that would benefit from said financing. , at least for the period established in the contract (24).

In the event that it is "desired" to reverse the concession process -something not foreseen in the case of the total privatization of the resource-, the MNCs ensure, by means of a contract, that the national State pays them the profits they expected to obtain in the period. that sets the same. Such winnings are generally so high that they are virtually impossible to cancel.

The result of the great water business is reflected in the intense race to open "access, management and usufruct" of this resource to the "global market" causing an Iguazú of projects and contracts to privatize both natural and artificial reserves, as well as the systems of storage, distribution and treatment; all in favor of US CMNs and European allies. It is "big business", because, as Gérard Mestrallet, the CEO of CMN Suez Group indicates, "… water is an efficient product… it is a product which normally would be free, and our job is to sell it. But it is a product which is absolutely necessary for life. (25) "For example, Monsanto (USA), another MNC interested in the water business, according to Vandana Shiva (26), just one year after the balance presented by ECLAC, Its plans contemplated operations that would begin in India and Mexico, hoping to obtain sales of about 420 million dollars, with a net profit of 63 million dollars for the year 2008. To complete its project, Monsanto partnered with Eureka Forbes / TATA which controls about 70% of UV technology to make water drinkable. Monsanto also bought a Japanese company that develops electrolysis technology, and has shown great interest in buying Water Health International (27).

In this sphere, as mentioned, the close symbiosis between the State instruments (of the CCPs) and their MNCs is also evident, for which the WTO and the WB are promoting and pressuring the privatization of water reserves and related infrastructure. , especially those of the ECPs. The World Bank agreed with Monsanto to invest in the noted project (28), under pressure that responds, as John Bastin of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says, that, "water will be the next infrastructure to be privatized (29) ".

Although it is obvious that the first repercussions of the privatization of the water reserves of the ECPs will be their subordination to the ECCs in terms of access to their own resource in a context of growing global scarcity; Also, the privatization of related infrastructure (dams, aqueducts, sewerage and distribution systems, treatment and purification plants, hydroelectricity, etc.) brings with it, as the cases of Argentina or England have shown, a significant increase in the cost of service, which means a greater reduction in the number of people, especially from the popular sectors, who can have access to water; dismissal of a large part of the personnel from the parastatal; among other consequences, which also do not necessarily result in an improvement of the service. On the contrary, in these and other cases there has been a regressive trend. This is just a sample of what the privatization of a fundamental asset for life entails when it is handed over to nationals and foreigners as their private property so that they do business as a purpose (land rent).

A looting promoted by the World Bank that, as has happened in the case of other assets, ends with the theft of wealth and leaves the country that is the object of its "investment" on the streets; only now we are not talking about the scandalous case of the privatization of the Argentine banking system, but about a strategic natural resource and sustenance of life itself. Just consider that bottled water has a higher price, per liter, than oil.

Furthermore, the projects for the conservation of natural water reserves, those of artificial reserves, as well as other WB projects, have been processes endorsed by a few and selected NGOs in a supposedly "inclusive" framework; but, as Vía Campesina, the National Union of Agricultural Workers, has indicated, within the framework of the WB Projects on land policies in LA: they are structured drills from… regional seminars that also include Europe, Asia and Africa, which culminate in the drafting of the document ... (final) ... characterized by the lack of transparency and by its exclusive nature ... The presence and role of the few organizations that come from civil society is very limited, so that the groups present run the The danger of serving as a fig leaf to justify the policies of the World Bank (30).

In addition, returning to the case of the "conservation of water reserves", natural and artificial, the WB programs have generated the expulsion of entire communities. Phenomenon reported by the International Rivers Network:
… It has been estimated that around 10 million people have been evicted from their lands by the dams financed by the World Bank. Despite political demands on the part of the displaced to be allowed, at least, to recover their previous living standards, a review of the experiences of the World Bank only allows mentioning a few examples in which the dispossessed have received some low-income improvements. proportion. Of the nearly 200 active projects reviewed by the Bank, half have no relocation plans at all in the evaluation project, in direct violation of the Bank's redevelopment policy. Public opposition (to the dams) in many countries ends up being repressed, violating human rights. Which, however, does not discourage the World Bank from continuing with its projects. (31) "

The case of Mexico and Central America is particularly important, especially if one thinks geographically as neighbors of the US, a power with high consumption not only of energy, but also of fresh water; but even more so if it is done taking into account the strong pressure from that country to implement the PPP.

In Mexico, "conveniently" President Fox has referred to the water problem, in the American way, as "a matter of national security." According to Hanhausen & Doménech Consultores (32), due to the limited resources available in Mexico for this sector, "the new plans must involve strong private participation for the development of infrastructure and operation. (33)"

The water privatization processes in Mexico are not new. The WB et al, has been establishing a favorable scenario to induce the privatization of the National Water Commission (CNA). Some companies already operate - generally through concession contracts of between 10 to 15 years obtained by public tenders - in distribution services, sewage treatment and desalination in the Federal District, Saltillo, Navojoa, Aguascalientes, Cancún (34) and Hidalgo (35); Without forgetting, of course, the great business that has been the purification of water for bottled sale, among others, by Coca-Cola and Nestlé. Estimated at $ 22 billion annually, the bottled water market has grown exponentially and in a loosely regulated manner. Since 1995, sales have increased by 20% per year, reaching, by the year 2000, about 89 billion liters worldwide (36).

Leaving aside the limitations imposed by Constitutional Article 27, which indicates that water is the direct domain of the Federation, within the framework of NAFTA and the WTO, water has been declared by its members as a commodity that can be placed on the market. as a "good", a "service" or an "investment" (37). This allows that, regardless of the Constitutional regulations in force, the ECCs, "international" organizations and their MNCs, interested in investment activities in this area, can "argue" that if this resource is not opened to the world market - and then to their investments -, it would be falling into a punishable violation under the agreed international trade rules, both in NAFTA and in the WTO. Incluso dentro de la normatividad Constitucional, debido a fuertes vacíos o ausencias en la legislación sobre algunos recursos naturales, los actores interesados en usufructuarlos, aprovechan tal situación para violar el espíritu Constitucional, ya que, en el rubro de los recursos hídricos, "formalmente", al menos las concesiones totales o parciales, no contradicen el Artículo 27, ya que el Estado seguiría teniendo el dominio directo sobre el agua. La inexistencia de candados constitucionales que coloquen al agua y la biodiversidad, por ejemplo, como recursos estratégicos, y que sí existen en el petróleo, facilitan su saqueo, incluso de modo "legal".

Más aún y en consonancia con esa línea, las presiones que el BM hace en materia de legislación promueven la descentralización de la administración de este recurso (de manera similar sucede en el caso de la biodiversidad), aunque se mantenga la legislación centralizada a nivel federal, de tal suerte que los gobiernos estatales, indica el BM, podrían liberarse de su deuda con la federación por "derechos de agua" y la gestión del recurso se mejoraría. Ello a través de la "reducción de fugas, mejora en el servicio y en la cantidad de usuarios, perfeccionamiento del cobro de facturas y el establecimiento de cuotas que reflejen el verdadero valor del recurso (38)" . Esto significa en lingua franca un incremento del costo del servicio y una drástica reducción a su acceso, y no necesariamente un perfeccionamiento en el servicio, tanto social, como ambiental. Las experiencias privatizadoras en otros países han sido desastrosas, incluso con la participación de algunas de las empresas que pretenden entrar al país. La privatización de Obras Sanitarias de la Nación de Argentina resultó en 1995, en el despido del 50% de sus empleados, el incremento drástico de las tarifas y la falta de reinversión del capital al ser remitido al exterior por su dueña, una filial de Lyonnaise des Eaux, Francia (Suez); misma y que provee agua y otros servicios (39) en España, Bélgica. Alemania, Inglaterra, República Checa, EUA, China y Austria. En 1996 fue acusada por el gobierno argentino de cobrar de más a los usuarios y de darles información incorrecta o falsa. Lyonnaise ha sido acusada de numerosos casos de corrupción y soborno como en el contrato de los acueductos de la ciudad francesa de Grenoble.

Con la intención de preparar este proceso en México, el BM a través del préstamo Infrastructure Investment Fund (FINFRA) inicialmente de 250 mdd, un programa ejecutado por Banobras, promovió desde 1995 y de manera encubierta, dadas la diversidad y dimensiones de programas que constituyen al mismo, la inversión tanto pública como privada en infraestructura referente al agua, mediante un mecanismo de inversión que exige la participación de la iniciativa privada. Programa privatizador, que en el caso del agua ha sido considerado como el "detonador de la inversión privada en plantas de tratamiento".

Asimismo, el BM (IBRD), aprobó en 1996 un préstamo de 186.5 mdd, entre otros tantos, para financiar el Water Resources Management Project (P007713). Trece lechos de ríos componen el "acercamiento integrado del manejo de agua" que enfatiza la necesidad de un "fortalecimiento institucional", que no es más que el manipuleo de la legislación nacional para facilitar el acceso a la inversión extranjera directa, lo que explica la ausencia de documentos públicos del BM a pesar de que la fecha de cierre del proyecto es junio de 2002.

En 1998, una revisión de la CEPAL sobre el avance de los programas para la privatización del agua en el país, indicaba en un documento de distribución restringida que, …el Gobierno de México ya ha privatizado la mayor parte de las empresas de propiedad estatal. Actualmente se centra en modernizar y reorganizar los servicios de infraestructura, entre ellos los del abastecimiento de agua potable, el saneamiento, el tratamiento de las aguas servidas, la energía eléctrica y el riego y el drenaje…ya hay cierta participación del sector privado en los servicios de abastecimiento de agua y saneamiento, en particular en el tratamiento de las aguas servidas; y actualmente se ejecuta con éxito uno de los programas de traspaso de la gestión de riego más ambiciosos del mundo… La Comisión Intersecretarial de Desincorporación creada en 1995 dirige el proceso de la privatización. Está compuesta por la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público (SHCP), la Secretaría de Comercio y Fomento Industrial (SECOFI), la Secretaría de Contraloría y Desarrollo Administrativo (SECODAM), la Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social (STPS), y en cada sector a ser privatizado, el miembro del gabinete responsable de coordinarlo. El Banco Nacional de Obras y Servicios Públicos (BANOBRAS) concede préstamos y tiene un programa de garantías para el desarrollo de la infraestructura (40).

Además, puntualiza el documento como rasgo positivo, que: …El gobierno alienta la participación del sector privado en la prestación de servicios. En la Ley de Aguas Nacionales se declara de interés público la promoción y fomento de la participación del sector privado en el financiamiento, construcción y operación de infraestructura hidráulica, así como en la prestación de los servicios respectivos. Se prevén distintos mecanismos para hacer concurrir esta participación; desde los contratos de obra pública tradicionales, hasta los contratos de obras y servicios con financiamiento recuperable y los esquemas de concesionamiento (41).

El balance de la Cepal lo sintetiza así: …se han concedido contratos a varias empresas. Muchas sociedades extranjeras forman empresas mixtas con firmas nacionales. Aquéllas brindan gran parte del equipo y los servicios de ingeniería requeridos y éstas se encargan de la construcción. Muchos proyectos de aguas servidas han traído la participación de capital extranjero proveniente de fondos especializados en capital de riesgo para empresas ambientales y de grandes inversionistas institucionales.

Recientemente el FINFRA ha sido redefinido bajo su versión II, a través de la cual se ejecuta el Program to Support Local Water Utilities with Private Sector Participation que pretende articular las operaciones de la privatización de este activo natural estratégico. Ello indica que la tendencia hacia la entrega del agua y otros activos a manos extranjeras se profundizará, mucho más, en un contexto en el que, como ha puntualizado el analista Carlos Fazio, "el país es administrado por un gobierno de empresarios, por empresarios y para empresarios."

El caso centroamericano es igualmente grave. Como indica un texto del Sistema de Integración Centroamericano (Sica), …todos los países de Centroamérica atraviesan por reformas del Estado que responden a una serie de factores externos, lo cual explica la similitud de políticas tendientes a reducir el papel del sector público y estimular la mayor participación del sector privado, y de otros actores de la sociedad civil. La reducción del gasto público ha contemplado, entre otras medidas, reducir el tamaño del personal en las entidades públicas, además de fomentar la mayor participación del sector privado en la provisión de los servicios básicos como energía eléctrica, agua potable y telecomunicaciones; todo dentro de un proceso que viene acompañado de cambios legales e institucionales (42).

Aunque de forma generalizada, suscribe Sica, todos los países de la región iniciaron en la década de los noventa, una transformación a fondo de su sector de recursos hídricos, mediante cambios jurídicos e institucionales; no se intensificó el proceso, sino hasta mayo de 1996 cuando el BID patrocinó una conferencia sobre recursos hídricos en San José, Costa Rica con la finalidad de introducir estrategias e instrumentos para hacer operativos los principios del acuerdo internacional de Dublín, mismos que de modo general señalan la necesidad de que las decisiones deben hacerse en el nivel apropiado más bajo y en estrecha conexión con un proceso de descentralización. Bajo este lineamiento, el BID puntualiza en su actual Estrategia que, "…apoyará como pre o co-requisito el fortalecimiento de la capacidad del proceso de descentralización del sector de los recursos hídricos y subsectores. (43)"

En este contexto, Sica señala que: …todos los países han llevado a cabo cambios sustanciales en la estructura de organización del Poder Ejecutivo, lo cual ha influido en la definición de una estrategia para reestructurar el Sector de Recursos Hídricos. Las reformas efectuadas persiguen propósitos comunes…(como)…modernizar la estructura gubernamental y establecer un marco regulatorio para apoyar una mayor apertura a la participación del sector privado en la provisión de servicios públicos. En el sector de recursos hídricos, los cambios…tienden a romper monopolios estatales, para posteriormente facilitar la instrumentación de esquemas de concesión de los servicios públicos o para la capitalización y/o privatización total o parcial de las empresas públicas (44)"

Para ello, Sica ha formulado un Plan de Acción que se apoya, tal y como lo afirma, "…en lo relacionado al Comité Regional de Recursos Hídricos (CRRH)…un órgano creado en 1966…que desde sus inicios ha tenido el apoyo del PNUD, OMM, BID y otros organismos (45). Además, …se espera que el CRRH y el CAPRE (Comité Coordinador de Instituciones de Agua Potable y Saneamiento de Centroamérica, Panamá y República Dominicana) sigan sus acercamientos a la Secretaría General de Sica, lo cual facilitará la coordinación entre los organismos regionales con recursos hídricos. CAPRE lleva a cabo un proceso de reingeniería y reorganización, el cual incluye aspectos normativos y de funcionamiento, así como los cambios necesarios para responder a las políticas de una mayor participación del sector privado en la provisión de los servicios de agua y saneamiento. Este cambio, apoyado por la CEPAL, busca asegurar el fortalecimiento de CAPRE y su inserción en la Secretaría General de Sica dentro de la Dirección Social de Sica, pero siempre en coordinación con la Dirección de Ambiente (46).

Una vez consolidada Sica como ente articulador para el acceso, gestión y administración del agua en Centro América, ésta "considera", como lo indica antes de que se finalice el mencionado proceso: …que las actividades regionales deben ser financiadas con recursos propios de los países, y algunas acciones co-financiadas por agencias internacionales… la ayuda externa puede obtenerse canalizando los actuales programas de asistencia de países donantes; con aportes de los organismos internacionales de crédito en condición de fondos de ayuda no reembolsables o préstamos blandos… el éxito del establecimiento y ejecución del Plan de Acción Regional, depende no sólo de la voluntad política y el esfuerzo de cada país, sino también del decidido y coordinado apoyo que puedan brindar los organismos de asistencia internacionales… (ya que) …los gobiernos por sí solos no pueden absorber todas las funciones inherentes al desarrollo y la gestión de los recursos hídricos. La complejidad del plan regional obliga a la participación de la sociedad civil de cada país, de las municipalidades, de la iniciativa privada, de las ONG, universidades, y otros (47).

Es decir, se trata de articular este proceso, no sólo a nivel centroamericano sino hemisférico y mundial, tal y como lo enlista el propio BID, a partir de involucrar a ese mismo Organismo, al BM, el PNUD, la UNESCO, la Organización Mundial Meteorológica (WMO), el World Water Council (WWC), el Internacional Network of Basin Organizations (RIOC) y el Global Water Partnership (GWP) (48); este último establecido en 1996 está auspiciado por el BM, el PNUD y las agencias bilaterales de desarrollo de países como Suecia, Dinamarca, Holanda, Alemania y desde luego la AID, entre otros actores como CARE o la OIA (Oficina Internacional del Agua de Francia).

Las dimensiones de la apropiación de los recursos hídricos de México-Centroamérica son precisas.

México, según datos recabados por Barreda, cuenta con una precipitación media anual de 780 mm ó 1,530 miles de millones de m3 de agua al año per capita. En sus ríos escurren 410 mil millones de m3; 14 mil millones de m3 de agua dulce se encuentran en los lagos y lagunas y 107 mil millones de m3 están almacenados artificialmente. La precipitación se concentra en el sur del país. Tan sólo esa región significa el 80% de la precipitación nacional. Además, considérese que las cuatro principales cuencas del país se encuentran en esa zona: el río Papaloapan, Coatzacoalcos, Grijalva y Usumacinta (estos dos últimos el primero y segundo ríos más caudalosos de México). Si se asume como una sola cuenca -una de las siete más importantes del mundo-, estamos hablando de un total de 83 ríos principales que abarcan una extensión de 129,132 km2 y un escurrimiento promedio anual de 105 mil 200 millones de m3 (alrededor del 30% de los recursos hídricos superficiales de México). Espacialmente, corresponde el 53% a Chiapas, 21% a Tabasco y 26% a Guatemala (49).

En Centroamérica hay aproximadamente 120 cuencas hidrográficas principales, de las cuales 23 son internacionales, éstas significan el 19% de los sistemas hídricos de la región y el 10.7% de las cuencas internacionales del planeta (50). Las cuencas de agua dulce compartidas, de mayor dimensión, son la del Río Coco o Segovia de 24,476 km2 (Honduras-Nicaragua) y la del Río San Juan de 41,870 km2 -Fondo para le Medio Ambiente Mundial, PNUMA y la OEA- (Nicaragua y Costa Rica) (51). Añádase la del Río Suchiate y Río Usumacinta (Guatemala-México); Río Hondo-Azul (Guatemala-México-Belice); Río Mopán-Belice, Río Moho, Río Sarstún y Río Motagua (Guatemala-Belice); Río Lempa de 18,246 km2 -con cooperación técnica de la UE, OEA, IICA y un pipeline del BID- (Guatemala-Honduras-El Salvador); Cuenca del Golfo de Fonseca -Proyecto Proarca/Costa de la AID, Danida y UICN- (El Salvador-Honduras-Nicaragua); Río Paz -OEA- y Río Ostúa-Lago Guija (Guatemala-El Salvador); Río Goascorán (Honduras-El Salvador); Cuenca del Golfo de Honduras -OEA- (Guatemala-Honduras); Río Choluteca y Río Negro (Honduras-Nicaragua); Río Xixaloa y Río Changuinola (Costa Rica- Panamá).

Si consideramos las enormes reservas de agua de Centroamérica, que probablemente sean conectadas por medio de hidrovías y/o acueductos a lo largo y ancho de la región como parte del PPP -algo similar a la conexión eléctrica acordada-, y a ellas se les suman las de México que se concentran en el sureste y que de igual manera pueden ser conectadas a la red centroamericana; es más que probable que a partir de justificar las necesidades del centro de México y la escasez de la zona norte, se contemple, desde el Finfra II la construcción de un sistema de bombeo de agua hacia el Norte. Algo que calza perfectamente con las necesidades de EUA y que lo "de menos" sería conectar ese sistema al suyo.

Una especulación que ya ronda en los círculos académicos de EUA y que salta a la vista en un panorama de disputa por el pago de agua en la frontera con ese país y que revela las crecientes necesidades de acceder a nuevas fuentes de agua. En ese escenario, Fox reveló en conversación privada con su homólogo de EUA, George W. Bush que respecto a ese problema,
…nosotros (los mexicanos) tenemos que… poner en marcha un programa urgente de uso eficiente del agua, para lo cual hay que hacer cuantiosas inversiones (52).

Además, indicó Fox que se dará cabal cumplimiento al Tratado sobre Distribución de Aguas Internacionales de 1944 (53) y que compromete a México a entregar al menos 431 millones de m3 quinquenales a EUA: …un convenio que nos es beneficioso y, por tanto, lo queremos y debemos cumplir, sólo que necesitamos tener agua y para esto lo que vamos a proponer (es) un amplio plan de inversiones para asegurar un uso eficiente del agua y lograr que toda la cuenca pueda salir adelante en estos tiempos de sequía…(para ello)…se exploran alternativas de financiamiento con el Gobierno de Estados Unidos y con el Banco de Desarrollo para América del Norte …(con sus respectivas ataduras) …que permitan acelerar la tecnificación del medio rural mexicano y alcanzar un uso más eficiente del recurso acuífero en esa zona del país. (54)"

En otras palabras, se "modernizará" la gestión del agua dulce con capitales de EUA y sus aliados en esquemas de participación de la iniciativa privada, sólo posibles gracias a la descentralización de la misma, impulsada por el BM-BID-AID -antes descrito-, con el supuesto objetivo de pagar la deuda acuífera con los EUA. De ahí que Fox inicie su lista con acciones en toda la frontera norte a excepción de Sonora. Se trata de un panorama en el que, de no haber -verídica o falsamente- las suficientes reservas para hacer el pago y satisfacer en una medida u otra la demanda del líquido en el centro y sobre todo en el norte del país, seguramente se buscará entubar agua desde el sureste. Algo que estipula de cierto modo el Acta 307 (55) al señalar que, "…en caso de que México no pagará antes de la fecha límite del 31 de julio, ‘debe considerarse’ la posibilidad de transvasar agua de cuatro presas del interior de México para resolver la situación.(56)"


REFERENCIAS
* Armada de Chile (2002). "Desprendimiento de Capa de Hielo" Página Web: http://www.directemar.cl/noticias/2000/04/iceberg/iceberg.htm

* Barlow y Clarke. Blue Gold. Stoddart. Canada, 2002.
* Barreda, Andrés. (1999) Atlas Geoeconómico y Geopolítico de Chiapas. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras. Tesis Doctoral en Estudios Latinoamericanos. Mexico.

* BID. (diciembre de 1998), "Strategy for Integrated Water Resources Management". (ENV-125). Washington, D.C.

* BID et all. (junio de 2001) "Información hidrometeorológica para la competitividad". Plan Puebla Panamá. Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Prevención y Mitigación de Desastres. En Iniciativas Mesoamericanas y Proyectos. PPP. San Salvador, El Salvador.

* CEPAL. (febrero de 1998) "Progresos realizados en la privatización de los servicios públicos relacionados con el agua: reseña por países de México, América Central y el Caribe" (LC/R. 1697). Documento Restringido.

* CEPAL. (agosto de 1999) "Tendencias actuales de la gestión del agua en América Latina y el Caribe". (LC/L.1180). Documento de distribución Limitada.

* Delgado-Ramos, Gian Carlo. (2002) La Amenaza Biológica. Plaza y Janes. Mexico.

* Hanhausen & Doménech Consultores, S.C. (Julio, 2000) Water in Mexico: government objectives and opportunities for private investment. The Institute of the Americas.

* Hernández y Rodríguez. (febrero de 2000)"Ambiente, conflicto y cooperación en la cuenca del río Lempa" Proyecto Conflicto y Cooperación Ambiental en Cuencas Internacionales Centroamericanas. San José, Costa Rica.

* IPCC. (2000) "The Regional Impacts of Climate Change: an assessment of vulnerability. ONU. (www.usgcrp.gov/ipcc)

* Jornada, La. (9 de mayo de 2002). "Comisión Estatal del Agua y Alcantarillado del Estado de Hidalgo". Comité de Adquisiciones, arrendamientos y prestación de servicios relacionados con bienes, muebles y obra pública. Convocatoria: 002 México. p. 60.

* Jornada, La. (16 de mayo de 2002) "Cumplirá México su compromiso con EU en materia de agua: el acuerdo fue resultado de una conversación entre los presidentes de ambos países." Mexico. 7.

* Jornada, La. (17 de mayo de 2002). "Habrá más sed en el norte para pagar a EU". Mexico. 49.

* Jornada, La. (21 de mayo de 2002). "Redefinirá el Banco Mundial políticas de tierra en AL: la deuda del BM. p.8.

* Kolko, Gabriel y Joyce. (1972) The Limits of Power: the World and United States Foreign Policy, 1945-1954, Nueva York, Harper & Row.

* Kourous, George. (19 de mayo de 2002) "La Disputa Binacional". Masiosare. La Jornada. No. 230. 5
* Klare, Michael. (2001). Resource Wars. Metopolitan Books. New York.

* Semana del Sur. (mayo de 2002) "Nuevas Imagenes del Gigante de Hielo". Ciencia y Tecnología. Año 2 No. 70.

* Shiva, Vandana. (30 de Julio de 1999) "Monsanto´s expanding monopolies from Seed to Water". Znet article.

* Sica. (agosto de 2001). "Plan Centroamericano para el Manejo Integrado y la Conservación de los Recursos del Agua". San Salvador, El Salvador.

* World Bank. (1995) Country Strategy Paper – Mexico. Mexican Division, Country Department II, Mexico and Central America. Washington, D.C.

*Autor de La Amenaza Biológica. México, 2002Apartado tomado de Saxe-Fernández y Delgado-Ramos. "Banco Mundial y Desnacionalización Integral en México" en Saxe-Fernández John. Tercera Vía y Neoliberalismo: una revisión crítica. Siglo XXI/Ceiich-Unam. 2002. En edición.


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