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"WATER AND ENERGY" ‘For the Recognition of Water and Light as Human Rights’



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By Gustavo Castro Soto

All life needs water to exist. That is why the State must recognize water as a human right and guarantee its access, quality and sufficient quantity for life and the enjoyment of other human rights related to water such as food, culture, public services, among others.

One in five people in the world (20%) does not have safe drinking water, with women being the most affected population. Furthermore, 85% of the world's water is consumed by 12% of its population. On the other hand, more than 2.5 billion people (40%) do not have electricity and 10% of the world population consumes 80% of the energy produced. In the context of this trend, the policies of the Mexican government are directed in the direction of favoring the large transnational water and electricity companies (Suez, Vivendi, Bechtel, Siemens, Endesa, Unión Fenosa, Iberdrola, among others), and incorporate life into the logic of the market, as well as all the essential elements of human existence and of every living being on our planet. Currently in several countries of the world there are prepaid cards for water and electricity and even the possibility that transnationals are given to cut off the water supply in case the population does not pay for it, as they are in the countries of Nigeria. Tanganyika, Ghana and Australia.


According to the National Institute of Geography, Statistics and Informatics (INEGI), Chiapas occupies one of the last places in almost all indicators of the level of well-being: illiteracy, maternal and child mortality, access to health services, social security and unemployment; homes with basic services of water, drainage, electricity, roof and firm floor, and number of inhabitants per home. Also the Directorate of Geography and Statistics of the Ministry of Finance indicates that the minimum wage in the entity in 2000 was $ 32.70 per day.

Chiapas is home to many of the poorest municipalities in the country (San Juan Chamula, San Pedro Chenalhó, Mitontic, Ocotepec, Pantelhó, Sitalá, Zinacantán, Aldama, Amatenango del Valle, Chalchihuitán, Chanal, Larráinzar, Oxchuc, Tenejapa, San Juan Cancuc and Santiago El Pinar). Almost all the municipalities classified as highly marginalized in the country have a majority indigenous population who do not even earn the minimum wage.

In the entity we observe communities without drinking water or with pipes without water; or springs without water for long periods, the women being the most affected by being forced to carry it from other springs without the men assuming the support to cover the needs. But the lack of water is also associated with deforestation, pollution and overexploitation of aquifers. In the case of electric power, it is no different since it is not of quality, the voltage drops, there are continuous blackouts, there is no maintenance of transformers, cables, poles or blades; fees are excessive in indigenous regions; The personnel of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) do not arrive to measure the meters, among other problems.

The lack of light and water also affects the satisfaction of other basic needs such as food (by affecting the operation of refrigerators or other devices necessary for the preservation and preparation of food), health (by affecting the operation of various devices medical conditions and the conditioning conditions of the medications), education (because it affects the telesecundaria sessions), and the general level of well-being. These deficiencies affect above all indigenous and peasant women due to the domestic work they do, exacerbating their situation of extreme marginalization and poverty.

"Bringing the right to water to the Constitution" is one of the strategies of the world movement in defense of water. An exemplary success was the referendum held in Uruguay in 2004, in which citizens voted for a constitutional reform to establish that water is an essential natural resource for life and that access to it constitutes a fundamental human right. In Bolivia, the first Ministry of Water in Latin America has been created and possibly the new Constitution will include the human right to water as other countries have previously done (Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Panama, the Islamic Republic of Iran, South Africa, Uganda, Venezuela , Uruguay and Zambia, as well as in the states of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas in the United States). In the case of the fight for the constitutional autonomous recognition of electric power, it is unprecedented. Therefore, both recognitions with a community sense, decentralized and with criteria of economic, social, cultural, political and ecological sustainability, constitute a first step for the claims to be recognized as part of a single problem and have a legal framework of reference to promote your defense.

The human right to water and electricity should be the parameter for adapting secondary legislation and establishing guiding criteria for public policies. Thus, the powers of the State must privilege the right to water in all government actions. The Legislative Power may create the appropriate legal resources and procedural mechanisms that allow individuals and communities to go to court to defend this right; reform the National Water Law and create the necessary ones to guarantee the right to electricity; adopt all the measures within its reach (policies, programs and budgetary measures) so that the human right to water and electricity is respected, protected and guaranteed. With this, the Judicial Power will have the national and international framework to attend and adjudicate cases on violations of these human rights.

THE HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER

The General Health Law (LGS) provides that "People who intervene in the water supply may not suppress the provision of drinking water service and drainage of inhabited buildings, except in cases determined by the applicable general provisions." This provision is repeated in some state laws on drinking water, prohibiting suspension in domestic, industrial and commercial use. However, in Mexico more than 11 million people lack drinking water, 24 million sewerage and thousands die each year from diseases caused by poor water quality, while another large percentage of the population faces serious accessibility problems due to the irregularity of service.

Despite the central importance of water for all forms of life, the Mexican Constitution does not have guarantees that protect it from its misuse and hoarding. The water laws approved in recent years have only exacerbated the risks of its contamination and the inequity in its distribution; the grabbing of water in the hands of a handful of companies; of the extinction of springs, wells, forests and jungles, aquifers, plant and animal species; of the accelerated death of the seas, rivers, lakes, lagoons, wetlands, mangroves and streams of the country. Also of the rapid increase in illness and death of citizens due to poor water quality; of the terrible water management; of the threat of water commercialized by transnationals.

In Chiapas

Although Chiapas has more than 30% of the country's surface water, there are currently problems related to the lack of access to water in indigenous and urban areas; the looting of water to supply cities or for the bottling industry; the obligation imposed on indigenous and peasant communities to register their wells; to the privatization of the land with the Certification Program for Ejidal and Urban Solar Rights (PROCEDE). We are also faced with the disappearance or obstruction of community water management systems; pollution caused by waste from rural and urban toilets, industrial ones, sugar mills, the use of agrochemicals, rural and urban garbage, even oil exploitation. Water in Chiapas is also threatened by the over-exploitation of aquifers caused by companies, large cities, new housing units, the construction of dams, large areas of monocultures such as African palm or eucalyptus, roads, mining exploitation and the terrible conditions of the irrigation districts that waste the precious liquid. It also insists on generating a culture of payment, in the culture of guilt for not paying for the service, in the culture of the meter or the habit of not being able to use the water from the well located on the property's lot.

Serious is the accelerated loss of the forests and jungles of Chiapas that affects the aquifers and the supply of wells; as well as the great waste of water in urban distribution systems or its waste and waste in cities and in agribusiness (large-scale agricultural productions such as cattle, mangoes, bananas, citrus fruits, etc.). In the midst of all these problems, women are the most affected because they are the providers of water in the family and for the household.

All life needs water to exist. That is why the State must recognize water as a human right and guarantee its access, quality and sufficient quantity for life and the enjoyment of other human rights related to water such as food, culture, public services, among others. Therefore, to face these problems, water must stop being considered as an economic good subject to the rules of supply and demand to be recognized in law and in practice that access to water is a fundamental human right . Access for all people, women and men, to drinking water will not be achieved through privatization processes, but through compliance with the State's social responsibility through democratic management with criteria of equity, transparency, social control and respect for the ecosystems.

This autonomous constitutional right must legally establish that access to water is a fundamental right of people based on General Observation No. 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In this context, the ICESCR establishes the commitments of the States to:
1) RESPECT: The State must not obstruct the exercise of the right to water. It must avoid actions that limit access to drinking water under equal conditions; arbitrarily intervene in traditional water distribution systems; and pollute the water or discriminate its access. “States must also refrain from illegally polluting the atmosphere, water and land, for example through industrial waste from state-owned facilities, use or test nuclear, biological or chemical weapons if, as a result of these tests, they are released substances that are harmful to human health, or limit access to health services as a punitive measure, for example during armed conflicts, in violation of international humanitarian law. " It also reaffirms that "States must formulate and implement national policies with a view to reducing and suppressing air, water and soil pollution, including pollution caused by heavy metals such as lead from gasoline." In this way, every human being and every community, be it ejido, neighborhood, town or neighborhood must have the constitutional guarantee of direct access to water to cover personal or collective health or food needs, in the place where water is naturally found ( spring, stream, wetland, in the subsoil or in the rain), which would avoid the commercial use of water. Any obstacle or interference created by individuals or authorities that prevent the exercise of this freedom, must be severely sanctioned by the Law, either due to contamination, destruction or obstruction of access to springs, wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes. , lagoons and any body of water; by the overexploitation of water that prevents the functioning of artesian wells; For profiting, to the detriment of people, families or territorial communities, with activities of access, collection, transport of water from springs or wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes, lagoons and any body of water, and from the extraction of water in artesian wells .
2) PROTECT: The State must monitor the degree of realization, or non-realization, of the right to water. It must prevent third parties from undermining the enjoyment of the right to water; regulate individuals, groups, national and transnational companies and other entities so that they do not interfere with the enjoyment of the right of all people; prevent those companies that operate distribution networks, dams, wells or other sources, from polluting and impairing access for physical or economic reasons to sufficient, safe and acceptable water resources. It therefore implies ensuring that personal safety is not threatened when people have to go to obtain water.
3) CARRY OUT or COMPLY: The State must implement a national strategy and its plan of action on water for the entire population –especially the most marginalized and vulnerable groups– prepared and periodically reviewed through participatory and transparent processes; It should provide methods with clear indicators that allow verifying its implementation and progress. The State is obliged to put the necessary measures (legislative, public policy, budgetary, etc.) to guarantee the right to water, which include: a) allowing individuals and communities to fully exercise their right to access, equitable distribution of all the water facilities and services available; b) promote the dissemination of adequate information about the hygienic use of water, the protection of water sources and methods to reduce its waste; c) guarantee, which implies making this right effective for individuals or groups who are not in a position, for reasons beyond their control, to exercise that right themselves. "The obligation to comply requires, in particular (...) to ensure equal access for all to the basic determinants of health, such as healthy nutritious food and drinking water, basic sanitation services and adequate housing and living conditions." Later on, the ICESCR confirms that the State must "guarantee access to a home, housing and basic sanitary conditions, as well as an adequate supply of clean drinking water (...)".
The autonomous recognition of the right to water in the Mexican Constitution should lead to practices of conserving clean water and equitable distribution; promote the capture of rainwater, the use of dry latrines, the implementation of wood-saving stoves that prevent further deforestation and household water purification; avoid urban and agricultural waste of water; eliminate the use of the English toilet, large pumps, large pipes and large hydraulic infrastructures, such as dams and transfers; make water consumption sustainable; help generate autonomy for territorial communities, municipalities, and states; implement deconcentration and decentralization in water decisions; generate a true New Culture of Water; and generate alternatives and new models of life.

Therefore, the right to water must have the following interrelated principles and dimensions:

1) Availability.
a) Sufficient quantity: implies a continuous and sufficient supply so that each person can satisfy the needs of consumption, cooking, personal hygiene and the home.
b) Regularity: when the supply comes from some type of aqueduct or distribution facility.
c) Sustainability: so as to ensure the satisfaction of the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. The storage of water in large reservoirs to justify the response to water demands only leads to blocking the hydrological cycle, increasing its pollution, generating greenhouse gases due to the flooding of organic matter, monopolizing its use, impoverishing villages and downstream basins, displacing population generating greater migration to cities and, at the same time, reinforces the vicious cycle of greater demand for piped water in impoverished peripheral urban areas, etc.

2) Accessibility.
a) Physical accessibility: water, its facilities and related services must be within physical reach of all sectors of the population, especially vulnerable or marginalized groups and rural areas. Every person must have access to a sufficient, safe and acceptable supply of water in every home, educational institution, workplace or in its vicinity.
b) Economic accessibility (Affordability): the direct and indirect costs and charges associated with their supply must be affordable without the detriment of other economic, social and cultural rights. Payments for services related to basic determinants of health, such as drinking water and basic sanitation, should be based on the principle of equity, in order to ensure that these services, whether public or private, reach the entire population. . The state must implement targeted and relatively low-cost water programs to protect vulnerable and marginalized groups.
c) Material: water and water services and facilities must be accessible to everyone, with enough water outlets and at a reasonable distance from the home.
d) Access to information: includes the right to request, receive and disseminate information on issues related to drinking water and basic sanitation. This implies the implementation of adequate and timely information systems.
e) Non-discrimination: water must be accessible to all without any discrimination; regardless of your race, color, sex, age, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, economic status, etc. Although the right to water is applicable to everyone, the ICESCR highlights the need to pay special attention to individuals and groups that have traditionally had difficulties exercising this right (women, children, indigenous people, minority groups, migrant workers, internally displaced persons, prisoners and detainees).

3) Quality. All water services and facilities must be of sufficient quality, with potable conditions, water treatment, protection, maintenance and care of sources and distribution systems. The necessary water must be safe, free of microorganisms or chemical or radioactive substances that may constitute a threat to people's health. The water must have an acceptable color, odor and taste for each personal or household use. The quality of the water must satisfy the requirements of the numerous uses, mainly public health. It is necessary to protect, take care of and maintain the sources and distribution systems.

4) Adaptability. Water services, access and management must be adequate and culturally adapted. It should also be borne in mind that some groups need additional water resources due to health, climate, and working conditions and culture.

THE HUMAN RIGHT TO ELECTRIC ENERGY

Chiapas dams provide almost half of the hydroelectric energy produced by the country and close to 13% of the national total until mid-2006. However, this wealth has not been distributed to the benefit of those who have paid the cost of this assumption. contribution to the development of the country. It has been the indigenous and peasant communities that with repression, violence and deceit were stripped of their lands and there are even those who, after 20 years or more, have not been adequately compensated for having displaced them from their places of origin to build a hydroelectric dam. As if that were not enough, due to the high indices of indigenous and rural marginalization in Chiapas, electricity tariffs in urban areas and especially in rural areas are very high and do not correspond to their low income levels. This is partly due to the modification of the rates for the supply and sale of electricity and to the reduction of the subsidy to domestic rates since 2002.


The CFE gives a poor service with overbilling. Not infrequently, electricity bills are arbitrary, exaggerated and have nothing to do with the electricity costs of each home. In some cases, in homes where there are only one or two outbreaks, receipts in rural regions have ranged from 500 to 15 thousand pesos. As if that were not enough, there are power outages without prior notice, voltage variations that cause damage to household appliances and lack of maintenance of power distribution structures. The massive power cuts to neighborhoods, neighborhoods and communities, often accompanied by repression and violence, constitute violations of their economic, social and cultural rights, and also of their political and civil rights. In other cases, federal and state authorities "are conditioning" the delivery of resources from the Oportunidades program and the application of final exams at the school to the presentation of the respective proof of payment to the CFE, which also constitutes a violation of individual rights. .

From a human rights perspective, personal or family expenses should not impede or compromise the satisfaction of other basic needs. In other words, to cover electricity costs, the enjoyment of the right to food, health, education, etc., should not be sacrificed, as is the case in most poor communities in Chiapas. Insofar as electric power constitutes a human right, or a fundamental element for the enjoyment of human rights, the Mexican State must assume its obligation to recognize it as such; ensure that the light reaches all Mexican communities, and that for enjoying the light only that amount is paid that does not compromise the realization of other rights. In this context, the ICESCR considers that: “The personal or household expenses involved in housing should be at a level that does not impede or compromise the achievement and satisfaction of other basic needs. States Parties should take measures to ensure that the percentage of housing expenditures are, in general, commensurate with income levels. ”

Resistance to the Payment of Light

Due to the entire situation described so far, the resistance to the payment of electricity is a form of legitimate protest of the indigenous, peasant and popular populations of Chiapas who thus demand their rights and compliance with the obligations of the State. Resistance to the payment of electricity is present today in more than 60% of the municipalities of Chiapas for more than 10 years. The conditions of marginalization and discrimination suffered by indigenous populations are obvious and flagrantly contradict the State's obligation to eliminate socioeconomic differences between indigenous members and other members of the national community. To ensure that rights are respected, it is necessary to fight and resist. The battle to reduce electricity rates requires the participation of all of us who are being affected by excessive charges.

However, in the face of resistance in Chiapas, the state government and the CFE created in 2003 the Better Life Rate program which, even with rate variations, its objective is focused on the regularization of debts. Through acceptance of the program, the Chiapas government pays 50% of the debt for domestic service as long as, through a written and individual agreement, the user agrees to pay the other half of the debt in payments for up to three years . Therefore, the program has nothing to do with a new tariff since they do not suffer any alteration nor is it considered any subsidy to electricity users in Chiapas. In the same way, the value of the debt is not reviewed even if there is suspicion of excessive collection. What is ensured is that the CFE receives the value of the debt as indicated on the receipts. This means that the government is going to withdraw the money from its coffers to pay the CFE, diverting resources from other activities or social services, without making any change in the electricity tariff in Chiapas. In practice, the State government only acts as the CFE collector without defending the rights of Chiapas.

THE HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER AND ELECTRICAL ENERGY IN INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS

There are at least 15 international instruments that refer in one way or another, explicitly or implicitly, to the human right to water and electricity. Among them we observe the following:

1) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (DHDH) was the first declaration of the United Nations (UN) on the matter and is the basis of the entire international human rights system. Although it is not a treaty that legally obliges states to comply with its provisions, it is a declaration of principles where its content and meaning are very important because it establishes the fundamental principles on which the entire human rights system is based. In addition, it not only establishes civil and political rights, but also Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR). The Declaration affirms that “Every person, as a member of society, has the right to social security, and to obtain, through national efforts and international cooperation, taking into account the organization and resources of each State, the satisfaction of rights economic, social and cultural, indispensable to their dignity and the free development of their personality. " On the other hand, it declares that “Everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living that assures them, as well as their family, health and well-being, and especially food, clothing, housing, medical assistance and services. necessary social ”.
2) The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) indicates that member states are legally bound to comply with its provisions once they ratify it. In its preamble, it states that “the ideal of a free human being, freed from fear and misery, cannot be realized, unless conditions are created that allow each person to enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights, as well as their rights. civil and political ”. It also establishes that “Each one of the States Parties to the present Covenant undertakes to adopt measures, both separately and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, to achieve progressively, by all appropriate means, including in particular the adoption of legislative measures, the full realization of the rights recognized herein. " Legal obligations include behavioral obligations (what states must do) and result obligations (what state actions must result in). Thus, States have the obligation to seek, by all means including the adoption of legislative measures (which are the obligations of behavior), the realization and guarantee of ESCR for all their holders (which are the obligations of result).
In the context of water and energy sources, the ICESCR establishes that “All peoples can freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources, without prejudice to the obligations derived from international economic cooperation based on the principle of reciprocal benefit, as well as international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence. "
On the other hand, the ICESCR establishes that “The States Parties to this Covenant recognize the right of every person to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to a continuous improvement of the conditions of existence." It emphasizes the sense that "the concept of 'adequate housing' ... means having a place where it can be isolated if desired, adequate space, adequate security, adequate lighting and ventilation, an adequate basic infrastructure and an adequate situation in relation to the work and basic services, all at a reasonable cost. " It also considers that "Adequate housing must contain certain essential services for health, safety, comfort and nutrition. All beneficiaries of the right to adequate housing should have permanent access to natural and common resources, drinking water, and energy. for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitary and toilet facilities, food storage, waste disposal, drainage and emergency services ”and that“ personal or household expenses for housing should be a level that would not impede or compromise the achievement and satisfaction of other basic needs. States Parties should take measures to ensure that the percentage of housing expenditures are generally commensurate with income levels. States Parties should create subsidios de vivienda para los que no pueden costearse una vivienda, así como formas y niveles de financiación que correspondan adecuada mente a las necesidades de vivienda.”
El PIDESC confirma que son “(…) factores determinantes de la salud, como el acceso al agua limpia potable y a condiciones sanitarias adecuadas, el suministro adecuado de alimentos sanos, una nutrición adecuada, una vivienda adecuada, condiciones sanas en el trabajo y el medio ambiente (…)”. El derecho humano al agua se desarrolla en la Observación General Nº 15 sobre el Derecho al Agua del Comité de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales de las Naciones Unidas. Ahí se hace énfasis en el derecho a disponer de agua para uso personal y doméstico en cantidad suficiente, de buena calidad y física y económicamente accesible. Si bien da prioridad al uso personal y doméstico del agua, al subrayar la profunda relación de este derecho con los demás derechos económicos, sociales y culturales resultan relevantes otros usos como el agrícola, o para ejercer determinadas prácticas culturales, etc.
3) El “Protocolo de San Salvador” incluye el derecho al medio ambiente sano. Por ello, todos los instrumentos hasta aquí señalados enuncian y definen los Derechos Económicos, Sociales, Culturales y Ambientales (DESCA). El Protocolo identifica criterios, principios y estándares universales para adaptarse en el contexto social y cultural de cada país. Además establece específicamente que toda persona tiene derecho a contar con servicios públicos básicos. Los DESCA son considerados igual de importantes que los derechos civiles y políticos e indispensables para la completa realización de la persona humana y a su intrínseca dignidad y se juzga la miseria como un obstáculo a esa plena realización.
4) El Convenio sobre Pueblos Indígenas y Tribales (Convenio 169 de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo –OIT-) establece los derechos de los pueblos indígenas y la obligación de los Estados en eliminar las diferencias socioeconómicas entre los indígenas y los demás miembros de la comunidad nacional, de una manera compatible con sus aspiraciones y formas de vida. También manifiesta la obligación del gobierno de evitar la discriminación, entre otras cosas, las relativas a la “asistencia médica y social, seguridad e higiene en el trabajo, todas las prestaciones de seguridad social y demás prestaciones derivadas del empleo, así como la vivienda”. Por otro lado confirma que “Los gobiernos deberán velar por que se ponga a disposición de los pueblos interesados servicios de salud adecuados o proporcionar a dichos pueblos los medios que les permitan organizar y prestar tales servicios bajo su propia responsabilidad y control, a fin de que puedan gozar del máximo nivel posible de salud física y mental (…) La prestación de tales servicios de salud deberá coordinarse con las demás medidas sociales, económicas y culturales que se tomen en el país.”
5) La Convención sobre la Eliminación de Todas las Formas de Discriminación Contra la Mujer instituye claramente el derecho a la electricidad como un derecho humano. Establece que los Estados Partes adoptarán las medidas apropiadas para eliminar la discriminación contra la mujer y le asegurarán el derecho a “Gozar de condiciones de vida adecuadas, particularmente en las esferas de la vivienda, los servicios sanitarios, la electricidad y el abastecimiento de agua, el transporte y las comunicaciones.”
6) La Declaración sobre la Utilización del Progreso Científico y Tecnológico en Interés de la Paz y en Beneficio de la Humanidad establece el derecho de las personas a disfrutar del uso de la electricidad como un avance científico y tecnológico: “3. Todos los Estados adoptarán medidas con objeto de garantizar que los logros de la ciencia y la tecnología sirvan para satisfacer las necesidades materiales y espirituales de todos los sectores de la población.”; “6. (…) extender a todos los estratos de la población los beneficios de la ciencia y la tecnología.”; “7. (…) medidas necesarias, incluso de orden legislativo a fin de asegurarse de que la utilización de los logros de la ciencia y la tecnología contribuya a la realización más plena posible de los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales sin discriminación alguna por motivos de raza, sexo, idioma o creencias religiosas.”
7) La Convención de los Derechos del Niño establece para el Estado la obligación de adoptar medidas apropiadas para “combatir las enfermedades y la malnutrición en el marco de la atención primaria de la salud mediante, entre otras cosas, el suministro de alimentos nutritivos adecuados y agua potable salubre, teniendo en cuenta los peligros y riesgos de contaminación del medio ambiente”.
8) El Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos se refiere a la libre autodeterminación de los pueblos y el Derecho a la vida. Es importante señalar la diferencia entre las obligaciones de los Estados en cuanto a los DESC y en cuanto a los derechos civiles y políticos. Respecto a los DESC, los Estados deben de asegurar la progresiva efectividad de los derechos, mientras que los derechos políticos y civiles el Pacto Internacional incorpora una obligación inmediata de respetar y garantizar todos los derechos pertinentes. Pero eso no debe interpretarse como una condición para que los Estados no cumplan con sus obligaciones en cuanto a los DESC. Al contrario, la progresiva efectividad de esos derechos impone una obligación de proceder lo más rápida y eficazmente posible.
9) La Convención Internacional sobre la Eliminación de todas las Formas de Discriminación Racial indica que los Estados partes se comprometen a garantizar el derecho de toda persona a la igualdad ante la ley, sin distinción de origen étnico, y particularmente la igualdad en el goce de los DESC, incluyendo el derecho a la vivienda, el derecho a la salud pública, a la asistencia médica, a la seguridad social y a los servicios sociales.
10) La Declaración Americana de los Derechos y Deberes del Hombre habla sobre el derecho a que la salud sea preservada por medidas sanitarias y sociales.
11) La Declaración Universal sobre la Erradicación del Hambre y la Malnutrición hace referencia al agua como fuente de alimentos y de bienestar económico, así como de la promoción de la explotación racional.
12) Las Reglas Mínimas para el Tratamiento de los Reclusos menciona que los reclusos deben disponer del agua indispensable para su salud y aseo personal.
13) Los Principios Rectores de los Desplazamientos Internos refiere el derecho de los desplazados a un nivel de vida adecuado, y al deber de proporcionar agua potable o asegurar el libre acceso a la misma.
14) La Declaración y Programa de Acción de Viena reconoce “la dignidad intrínseca y la incomparable contribución de las poblaciones indígenas al desarrollo y al pluralismo de la sociedad” y además reiteró “la determinación de la comunidad internacional de garantizarles el bienestar económico, social y cultural y el disfrute de los beneficios de un desarrollo sostenible.” También reafirmó la universalidad de los derechos humanos y su interdependencia, ya que el ejercicio pleno de los derechos civiles y políticos solo puede ocurrir cuando están garantizadas las condiciones de vida digna y humana.
15) La Declaración Universal de los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas hace referencia al derecho a la educación, la salud, la vivienda, la cultura, la no discriminación, al usufructo de los recursos naturales, a la tierra y el territorio indígenas. La Declaración manifiesta que “Los pueblos indígenas tienen derecho a mantener y fortalecer sus propia relación espiritual y material con sus tierras, territorios, aguas, mares costeros y otros recursos que tradicionalmente han poseído u ocupado o utilizado de otra forma y a asumir las responsabilidades que a ese propósito les incumben respecto de las generaciones venideras” . También reafirma “Los pueblos indígenas tienen derecho a poseer, desarrollar, controlar y utilizar sus tierras y territorios, comprendido el medio ambiente total de las tierras, el aire, las aguas, los mares costeros, los hielos marinos, la flora y la fauna y los demás recursos que tradicionalmente han poseído u ocupado o utilizado de otra forma. Ello incluye el derecho al pleno reconocimiento de sus leyes, tradiciones y costumbres, sistemas de tenencia de la tierra e instituciones para el desarrollo y la gestión de los recursos, y el derecho a que los Estados adopten medidas eficaces para prevenir toda injerencia, usurpación o invasión en relación con estos derechos”.
16) Aunque no es un acuerdo internacional, sino nacional mexicano, los Acuerdos de San Andrés revisten especial importancia ya que definen “Las responsabilidades que el Gobierno Federal asume como compromisos que el Estado mexicano debe cumplir con los pueblos indígenas en su nueva relación”. Están, entre otros: “(…) El marco constitucional de autonomía permitirá alcanzar la efectividad de los derechos sociales, económicos, culturales y políticos con respeto a su identidad. 2. (…) asegurar a los indígenas una educación que respete y aproveche sus saberes, tradiciones y formas de organización. Con procesos de educación integral en las comunidades que les amplíen su acceso a la cultura, la ciencia y la tecnología; educación profesional que mejore sus perspectivas de desarrollo; capacitación y asistencia técnica que mejore los procesos productivos y calidad de sus bienes; y capacitación para la organización que eleve la capacidad de gestión de las comunidades (…) garantizar a los pueblos indígenas condiciones que les permitan ocuparse de su alimentación, salud y servicios de vivienda en forma satisfactoria y por lo menos un nivel de bienestar aceptable. La política social impulsará programas prioritarios para que la población infantil de los pueblos indígenas mejore sus niveles de salud y alimentación, y de apoyo a la actividad y capacitación de las mujeres indígenas.” Obviamente estos derechos no se pueden cumplir sin el acceso al agua y la energía.

LAS IFIS, EL AGUA Y LA LUZ

Hasta aquí nos podemos dar cuenta que los instrumentos internacionales y los mismos Acuerdos de San Andrés en materia de derechos humanos reconocen que el agua y la energía eléctrica constituyen derechos humanos o elementos fundamentales para el disfrute del derecho a una vida digna. Por tanto deben ser eliminados de las agendas de la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC), del Área de Libre Comercio de las Americas (ALCA) y todo acuerdo regional o bilateral de libre comercio. Más bien deben ser incorporados en la legislación nacional como lo que son, derechos humanos autónomos, cuyo disfrute debe ser garantizado por el Estado mexicano a todas las personas sin distinción. Es por ello necesario reafirmar las obligaciones de respetar, proteger y realizar el derecho humano al agua y a la energía eléctrica que el Estado mexicano adquirió en los diversos instrumentos internacionales.

La llamada crisis del agua y de la energía eléctrica es la manifestación de la crisis del sistema capitalista, de su tendencia a concentrar más riqueza en pocas manos, y del modelo de producción y de gestión de estos servicios públicos que tienden a ser privatizados. En este contexto no podemos dejar a un lado el papel fundamental que juegan las Instituciones Financieras Internacionales (IFI’s) como son el Banco Mundial (BM), el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI), el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), entre otros bancos subregionales multilaterales quienes imponen las políticas neoliberales usando el control y el poder que les da la deuda externa que tienen con ellos los países empobrecidos. Los préstamos de las IFI’s van condicionados a que los gobiernos privaticen los servicios públicos que son rentables para las empresas así como los recursos naturales con el objetivo de convertirlos en mercancías e incorporarlos a la lógica del mercado.

Sin embargo, la experiencia de la privatización del agua y de la energía eléctrica ha sido desastrosa en el mundo y ha violando los derechos humanos de los pueblos y comunidades a la tierra y sus territorios, a acceder libremente a los recursos naturales y a los servicios públicos que otorgan calidad de vida. Estas experiencias han ido de la mano con el incumplimiento de contratos, con la corrupción, el monopolio privado, la inequidad en la gestión y en la distribución, lo que ha provocado que el acceso a los derechos humanos sea cada vez más lejano para la mayoría de la población empobrecida. El neoliberalismo pretende lograr que los derechos humanos se conviertan en mercancías y mediante el aumento de las tarifas para acceder a los servicios y recursos, la vida sea exclusividad de quienes tienen dinero para pagarla, empobreciendo cada vez más a la población especialmente a las mujeres.

Por tanto, los derechos humanos no pueden estar a merced del comercio, de la competencia y al fin del monopolio. Tampoco deben ser exclusivos de quienes pueden pagar el derecho a vivir dignamente. La historia de los derechos humanos nos demuestra que sólo la movilización y la exigencia social han logrado que éstos sean reconocidos constitucionalmente, desde donde se obliga al Estado a proteger, legislar, respetar, garantizar y cumplir con estos derechos sin discriminación.


* Gustavo Castro Soto –
Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos (MAPDER/Chiapas) Enero de 2007, Chiapas, México.

Notes
[1]Artículo 121 de la Ley General de Salud (LGS).
[2] Estados donde se permite la suspensión del servicio por falta de pago: Baja California Norte, Baja California Sur, Guerrero, Michoacán, Querétaro, Coahuila, Distrito Federal, Zacatecas (1989), Sonora (1992), Campeche (1992), Oaxaca (1993) y Quintana Roo (1992).
[3] Observación general Nº 14 (2000) Nos. 34 y 36. Ginebra, 25 de abril a 12 de mayo de 2000
[4] Ibid, No. 36
[5] Ibid, No. 43
[6]Observación General No.15.
[7] Sobre la aplicación del artículo 11.1 del PIDESC (Observación General 4, 1991).
[8] Firmada el 10 de diciembre de 1948.
[9] Artículo 22 de la DUDH.
[10] Artículo 25 de la DUDH.
[11] El 16 de diciembre de 1966, adoptado y abierto a la firma, ratificación y adhesión por la Asamblea General de la ONU en su resolución 2200 A (XXI). El PIDESC entró en vigor el 3 de enero de 1976.
[12] México accedió al PIDESC en 23 marzo 1981.
[13] Artículo 2.1.
[14] Artículo 1.2.
[15] Artículo 11.
[16] Observación General 4 para este Artículo.
[17] Observación General No. 14, puntos 4 y 11.
[18] En 1998 se adicionó un Protocolo a la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos, parte de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), que reafirma y matiza el PIDESC y amplía los Derechos Humanos para América Latina y el Caribe por medio del “Protocolo de San Salvador”.
[19] Artículo 11.1
[20] Adoptado en 1989 por la OIT, ratificado por México el 5 de septiembre de 1990.
[21] Artículo 20.
[22] Artículo 25.
[23] Vigente en México desde el 23 marzo del 1981.
[24] Artículo 14, ordinal 2º, literal f.
[25] ONU del 10 de noviembre de 1975.
[26] Adoptada y abierta a la firma y ratificación por la Asamblea General en su resolución 44/25, de 20 de noviembre de 1989. Entrada en vigor: 2 de septiembre de 1990.
[27]Artículo 24, ordinal 2°, literal c.
[28]Adoptado y abierto a la firma, ratificación y adhesión por la Asamblea General de la ONU en su resolución 2200 A (XXI), de 16 de diciembre de 1966.
[29]Adoptada y abierta a la firma y ratificación por la Asamblea General en su resolución 2106 A (XX), de 21 de diciembre de 1965. Ratificada por México en 20 febrero de 1975.
[30] Artículo 5.e
[31] Aprobada en la Novena Conferencia Internacional Americana; Bogotá, Colombia, 1948. En la Resolución aprobada en la tercera sesión plenaria, celebrada el 2 de junio de 1998, se modificó “hombre” por “persona”.
[32]Aprobada el 16 de noviembre de 1974 por la Conferencia Mundial de la Alimentación, convocada por la Asamblea General en su resolución 3180 (XXVIII) del 17 de diciembre de 1973, y que hizo suya la Asamblea General en su resolución 3348 (XXIX) del 17 de diciembre de 1974.
[33] Adoptadas por el Primer Congreso de las Naciones Unidas sobre Prevención del Delito y Tratamiento del Delincuente, celebrado en Ginebra en 1955, y aprobadas por el Consejo Económico y Social en sus resoluciones 663C (XXIV) de 31 de julio de 1957 y 2076 (LXII) de 13 de mayo de 1977.
[34] Resolución 50 de la CDH del 17 de abril de 1998.
[35] Producida en la Conferencia Mundial de Derechos Humanos de 1993.
[36] Parte I, parágrafo 20.
[37]El 29 de Junio del 2006, luego de más de 20 años de negociación, el Consejo de Derechos Humanos adopta la declaración de la ONU sobre los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas.
[38] Ibid, Artículo 25.
[39] Ibid, Artículo 26.
[40] Firmados en 1996 entre el Gobierno Federal mexicano y el Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN)
[41] Documento 1 de los Acuerdos de San Andrés.
[42] Ibid, Inciso 6.


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