Colonia Quezaltepeque in Santa Tecla has been without water since the weekend and it’s Thursday now. A video clip today on Channel 33 (Canal 33) shows people waiting in line with buckets and containers of all sizes to bring home. Some waited in line for 3 hours. A woman in line with a small bucket is interviewed:
ORIGINAL Text, in Spanish:
Periodista: Este poquito de agua para que le va servir.
Mujer de la colonia Quesaltepeque: Aunque sea para lavar trastes porqu ni para ir al bano ay. Todos tenemos sucio, y los trastes anda un gran mosquero alli.
Periodista: PARA tomar anda, como estan haciendo? Comprando bolsitas.
Periodista: Es un gasto extra… Mujer: Para comprar la garaffa grande
TRANSLATION into English:
Journalist: So what is this little bit of water for?
Woman from Quezaltepeque neighborhood: Even if it’s only for washing dishes..because there isn’t even any for the bathroom. Everything is dirty, and the dishes are full of flies.
Journalist: What are you doing for drinking water? Woman: Buying little bags [of it]. Journalist: It’s an extra Cost Woman: To buy the big water bottle.
Seeing reports like this of citizens suffering from water outages and shortages is disturbing when we are aware of mass corruption within ANDA, the public water company – we’re talking millions of dollars embezzled; its former President did finally serve time after hiding out in France. Then we hear about a company, ALUVIAH, taking water from a creek illegally in the community of Berlin, and bottling it for sale outside of the country. The residents of two different communities use this same creek for all of their water needs – drinking, bathing, washing.
WATER IS A SCARCE RESOURCE in EL SALVADOR. Anything you can do to help citizens of El Salvador have better infrastructure and less corruption is welcomed.
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.