During my travels last Friday to both Santa Tecla, and Miramonte, a neighborhood in San Salvador, I heard complaints in passing conversations that there was no water. Later on I learned why: Vandals damaged critical parts of a metallic structure that supports a main water pipe 48 inches in diameter. The act occurred some time before mid-afternoon on Thursday, May 19th, when the regional manager received a call the pipes were damaged.
It created a water outage in 30 or more neighborhoods. This adds to the current public pains rooted in the propane gas “polemica” (controversy), and eviction of street vendors from areas like Calle Arce and Ruben Dario.
The water pipe belongs to ANDA, the public water company. They partially resolved the problem by rerouting water to an older pipe, but cannot deliver the same volume of water, so the city is forced to ration water until repairs finish, a 10+ day job which costs $100,000. Mauricio Funes, President of El Salvador, has responded by accusing the opposing political party, ARENA, of “Sabatoge” (English translation by Google here).
According to testimony of ‘locals’ in the area, armed men kept watch while the vandals used sophisticated equipment to cut the structure. Certainly not the work of amateurs looking for scrap metal; nothing was robbed, and it’s clear the intent was to damage the pipe.
Though Funes’ remark is a stretch in assuming exactly who damaged the pipe and what they intended to accomplish with the sabotage, one good turn deserves another: ARENA seems to have no limit to how far they will go to damage FMLN’s reputation. Since 2009, after they lost the presidential election, they have paid for billboard and TV ads everywhere calling the FMLN administration “Incapaces” (incapable/inept). And what with the former ARENA administration’s association to death squads and massacres such as The Massacre of Mozote (detailed story here by Mark Danner), a little pipe-cutting looks like innocent mischief.
As of Tuesday, 80% of service was re-established. Repairs should conclude this Saturday and Sunday to mend the supporting structure and the broken pipe, and on Monday water routed to an older, 42 inch pipe during the outage will be re-routed to the new pipe again.