Theft of Water by Aluviah – Ladrones de Agua en Berlin, El Salvador por compania Aluviah – Aviso!   4 comments

This is a repost from a fellow blogger’s site about a current case of water theft in Berlin, El Salvador.   << If anyone reading is able to help or intervene with this in some way, then please do. >>

Water is a very SCARCE resource in El Salvador because of the annual dry season, which lasts 6 months long.  Many communities live with few water resources, and projects to drill new wells often fail because they find no water when drilling.  this has happened in the town of Obrajuelo, in Agua Caliente, Chalatenango, where we have relatives, so we know about this first hand.

I mention this to stress the urgency of this situation to the readers.  Draining the water resources of a local community is not just immoral, but dangerous to everyone who lives there.   It is amazing how they are getting away with this, because based on what’s stated below, one cannot legally own groundwater in El Salvador, so it looks like a problem with the enforcement of local environmental laws.

Original post, below, is from  “Not all who wander are lost” .  I recommend reading an article she cites, which talks about attempts to block Aluviah.

Water thieves

A company named Aluviah is illegally taking water from a water source in the communities of Río de los Bueyes and Talpetates in the municipality of Berlín. Though the communities still have water (in the form of water pumps from the rivers to their communities) they are in danger of losing water in the future. There are several other communities in the lower zone that could also potentially lose water. Unfortunately, even though the company is stealing the water there’s not a lot that the community can do about it. There have been inplications of people being paid under the table to look the other way. To make matters worse, the company has armed guards patrolling the outskirts of the communities. These men randomly shoot off bullets into the air in order to frighten the people of the communities.
We received the information below on a flyer at the end of church on Sunday; I translated it to English. Someone from the Pastoral Team also talked to someone in the community of Río de los Bueyes about what was happening there:
ATTENTION BERLIN!!!!!
THEY WANT TO LEAVE US WITHOUT WATER
Organizations of the municipalities of Alegría, Berlin, Usulután, Mercedes Umaña are denouncing before the city, national and international organizations, government, church, pastors from different churches, and to whom it may concern:
A PRIVATE COMPANY has emerged named ALUVIAH S.A. DE C.V. that aims to EXTRACT AND SELL water from a water source in the lower area of Berlin, between CANTON TALPETATES and THE CASERÍO RÍO LOS BUEYES of this municipality.
The head of the company is Mrs. JUANA FRANCISCA SERRANO supported [by] VIRGINIA MORATAYA, alternate deputy for the department of Usulután, who are powerfully trying to establish the company in this community.
THEY DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION
It should be noted that one can own property but not the groundwater. The company cannot operate without the permission of City Hall. We have the support of the municipality to protect resources. In this case it is the water of our people since the LOWER SAN SIMON RIVER BASIN supplies water to an average of 7 municipalities. Therefore they do not have nor ever will obtain permission.

REPORTED THREATS
In face of opposition from communities and organizations, there have been threats against community leaders in the community of Río de los Bueyes and members of our organizations. In the area where the company is working, there are armed men who shoot in the direction of the community of Río de los Bueyes trying to scare people. These actions are directed by Ramón Serrano, brother of the owner of the company.

REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY
Mrs. JUANA FRANCISCA SERRANO with the support of VIRGINIA MORATAYA have filed suit in the courts of Berlin against the community of Río de los Bueyes, accusing them of actions that have never been committed at any time. WE ARE THE COMMUNITIES THAT ARE BEING ASSAULTED AND THREATENED BY UNSCRUPULOUS PEOPLE.

THEREFORE
BEING HELD RESPONSIBLE ARE MRS. JUANA FRANCISCA SERRANO, HER BROTHER RAMON SERRANO, AND THE REST OF THE OWNERS OF THE COMPANY ALUVIAH S.A. DE C.V. FOR ANY AGGRESSION TO THE PHYSICAL AND MORAL INTEGRITY OF OUR COMMUNITY LEADERS AND ORGANIZATIONS

THE COMPLAINANTS ARE
THE ASSOCIATION OF DEVELOPMENT AND PROTECTION OF THE SAN SIMÓN AND LEMPA RIVER BASINS (ADECSILEMP), THE COORDINATOR OF THE LOWER SAN SIMÓN RIVER BASIN, THE LAY PARISH COMMISION IN FAVOR OF LIFE OF BERLIN, AND THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT AGAINST DEATH PROJECTS.
Berlín, July 2011
________________________________________________________
Related links:
YouTube: The company Aluviah
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUHfWHD0ZDo
YouTube: Threat of water privitazation in Berlín
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0MeVa5uHbY&feature=related
New Millenium article
http://www.newsmillenium.com/elsalvador/politica/2011/06/29/adecsilemp-realiza-marcha-por-la-proteccion-de-los-mantos-acuiferos/

4 responses to “Theft of Water by Aluviah – Ladrones de Agua en Berlin, El Salvador por compania Aluviah – Aviso!

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  1. The obvious question I have is what and where is your Police dept?

    • Hi Rob. Yes, if only it were that easy. “Technically” speaking no police officer is going to arrest someone who takes water from a river or stream on their own property, which is essentially what they are doing.

      Applying the environmental laws which protect Salvadorans is Berlin’s best defense.

      This is a shared water source that human beings need to drink and bathe with. This isn't like Poland Springs getting water from Maine, which has rainfall year-round. We have ZERO rainfall 6 months out of the year in this country. The poor people in those areas can't just 'pick up and move' somewhere else when their water disappears.

      Alisha (the fellow blogger) references an informative article in Spanish, which states that ADECSILEMP (Association for the Development and Protection of San Simon and Lempa river basins) protested publicly (50 of its members) in San Salvador, and placed an official complaint with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources here in El Salvador (MARN).

      Google Translation of the New Millennium article

      Excerpt from the article [ my translation ]

      “ADECSILEMP demands that MARN immediately apply articles 83, 84, 85 and 86 of the Environmental law that emphasize the protection of water resources, for which they made a call to the authorities to defend the interests of the population and not private businesses, who only look to obtain substantial gains.”

      It appears MARN made 25 recommendations* for which ALUVIAH has NOT complied.

      Meanwhile, armed guards are protecting the business while they take water out of the river. Your comment has validity – and begs the question of WHO should be intervening here? Looks like they need a National Environmental Police on top of the "National Civil Police" (PNC) here (well ha ha that won't happen).

      * Note the word ‘recommendation’. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the meaning of the word ‘recomendaciones’, or it might be the journalist chose that word when writing the article. I’d prefer to see ‘requisito’ (Requirement). I may be getting hung up on wording, but I’d like to know concretely if MARN made 25 actual requirements which are enforceable by law, or if they just made a set of ‘recommendations’. Would also like to know what MARN’s track record is for enforcing environmental laws here.

  2. Why not support small businesses trying to do better for not only themselves but the country as well. I know about this small business in particular, and the family behind it and its sad what you’re basing your “report” on… Do some more research, these people felt threatened naturally but before bashing and protesting, they should’ve stopped to think, if accepting this new idea would really affect their lives in a negative way… I know it hasn’t!

    • Thank you for responding to this B.smart. I certainly do not want to be a knee-jerk petchuli oil overzealous liberal. And I DID try dong research on the internet about this company and could not even find a website. the next best thing after that would be an in-person investigation, like actually visiting the town and the site (however, there are armed guards there, so not sure how far I would get).

      Is the woman who is an alternate Diputado available for an interview? And I mean that in all seriousness, not in jest – if they are following the code of the law and being ethical and complying with environmental regulations, then why not set up an interview on the radio or TV so they can speak to their side of the story – I’m sure the media agencies here would broadcast the interview.

      I welcome whatever information you can provide about the “Aluviah” company. If you know taking water from the creek definitely has not affected their lives and WILL not in the future, let me know how.

      Until I hear further, though, I will consider this an ‘alert’ since I am more than aware of the shortage of water in El Salvador during dry season. Example: the town/neighborhood area of Obrajuelo in the Chalatenango department shares a well with a neighborhood next to it called Jicaron. The neighborhood where the well is located (Jicaron) does not have any issues with water, but Obrajuelo, being ‘downstream’ from the well and further away from natural water resources has constant problems with low or no water pressure. Various agencies have come out to try digging wells, but their efforts yield no fruit – its dry dry dry. Lots of people assume there should be a surplus of water in a ‘tropical’ country but they often are naive to the climate and do not know about the 6 month long dry season, which is where problems with water appear. Rivers run super low in the dry season, and smaller creeks run completely dry.

      So again, B.Smart, I welcome and hope you will forward any information you have about Aluviah, so both sides of the story can be presented. Thanks!

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