Habitat International Coalition
Global network for the right to habitat and social justice
People’s Workshop: Defense and community management of water in the countryside and in the city
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03-14-2006 / 03-15-2006
Days In Defense of Water

The water privatization process in the world and in Mexico has not only gained ground but has also revealed the many faces adopted by this strategy to destroy social and community life in both rural and urban populations.

Based on the argument that the current "global water crisis" can be resolved by handing over control of public water systems to the transnational companies dedicated to making money from this resource, international institutions in complicity with national governments are attempting to promote their agenda in as many ways as possible, including through the upcoming IV World Forum on Water to be held in Mexico City on 16-22 March 2006.

Privatization of water is linked to other privatization processes (such as of electricity, oil, land, and infrastructure and housing construction). But it is also linked to processes to eliminate traditional forms of peoples management of daily life, the pollution of soil, rivers and aquifers, and the progressive dismantling of the legal norms and local public entities responsible for water and drainage services in cities and for water extraction and distribution systems for indigenous and small-scale agriculture. In summary, water privatization is a problem common to all of us, because it affects us as producers, consumers, citizens, and rural and urban inhabitants.

Diverse groups throughout the world (community and nongovernmental organizations, academics, professionals, unions, etc.) oppose this privatization and all of its economic, social and cultural implications. These groups view water as an essential element for life, and therefore as a fundamental human right which can not be marketed, commercialized, or privatized.

Deeply concerned by the fact that water privatization equals the economic destruction of communities (due to service tariff hikes and the limitation of access based on payment capacity), social destruction (due to overcrowding in large pseudo-housing complexes, the proliferation of conflicts within and between communities, and the confrontation fostered between rural and urban inhabitants), and cultural destruction (by the abandonment of local and traditional practices and ways of life), we, a diverse group of national and international organizations, have organized this Peoples Workshop.

Why this workshop?

This workshop is consciously and explicitly inscribed within a global and national reflection and networking process which aims to provide follow-up to the debates, exchange, and formulation of alternatives put forward over the past year through several forums and events, including the first People s Workshop in Defense of Water (Mexico City, April 2005); the Mesoamerican Meeting on Impacts and Resistance Strategies and Action to Oppose the Free Trade Agreements and Regional Integration Plans (Mexico City, April 2005); the First National Assembly in Defense of Water and Land and Against their Privatization (Mexico City, January 2006), and the First Regional Gathering in Defense of the Place in Which We Live (Cuautla, Mexico, February 2006). This workshop is also part of the Days in Defense of Water organized by several national and international organizations in conjunction with the resistance activities against the IV World Forum on Water.

Workshop objectives

This workshop aims to serve as one more step toward understanding the grave issue of water privatization, but even more so to continue to build linkages between urban and rural struggles against privatization, weaving community management alternatives, and attempting to offer paths toward resolution of the most pressing problems and common difficulties. With these goals in mind, we propose the following objectives:

1. Deepen the knowledge of the participating organizations on the characteristics, reaches, and problems of public, private and community water management processes, and of the struggles against their privatization and for their public, collective, sustainable, democratic and participative control.

2. Strengthen the links among existing struggles and with other new struggles by distinct social and regional sectors, in particular between rural and urban struggles.

3. Establish linkages among diverse existing alternatives, and collectively propose strategies to address some of the most urgent problems of the resistance movements.

Workshop Program

The workshop will be held in Mexico City on 14-15 March 2006, at the Lepanto Hotel located in the historic downtown district. Participants will include representatives from community based organizations, urban movements, indigenous and small-farmer organizations or communities, unions, and others from the main regions of the country, as well as international delegations of activists in the water issue from South and North America.

Day 1. Tuesday, March 14

9:00 - 9:30 AMParticipant registration
9:30 - 10:00 AMWorkshop presentation
10:00 - 12:00Presentation of the resistance struggles in the circle of towns
and cities surrounding Mexico City
PROPOSED PRESENTERS (10 minutes per case)
1. Cuenca del Lerma: Otomes
2. Cuenca del Cutzamala: Mazahua Movement
3. Iztapalapa: Water Defense Front
4. Valle del Mezquital, Hidalgo
5. Huixquilucan
6. Atlapulco: Otom community
7. Electric Energy privatization: Mexican Electricians Union
8. Water privatization: Coordinator of Workers in Defense of the Public Character of Water
9. Rural communities from the northern outskirts: Tecmac
10. Rural communities from the northern outskirts: Valle de Chalco
11. Sinkings and the destruction of constructions: Unidad Plaza Estrella, Iztapalapa.
12:00 - 12:20 PMCoffee break
12:20 - 2:00 PMPresentation of struggles in the field of water production
PROPOSED PRESENTERS (10 minutes per case)
1. La Parota, Guerrero
2. Wixrikas communities, Jalisco and Nayarit
3. Tatahuicapan, Veracruz
4. Central Valleys and Sierra Norte, Oaxaca
5. Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca
6. Romita, Guanajuato
7. Altos de Chiapas
9. Section 50 of the Ministry of Health
10. Communal farmers of Zacatecas
11. Campesino Farmers of Chihuahua
2:00 - 4:00 PMLunch
4:00 - 5:30 PMOpen presentations by national and international participants
(5 minutes per intervention)
5:30 - 5:50 PMCoffee break
6:00 - 7:00 PMOpen presentations by national and international participants
(5 minutes per intervention)

We propose that the speakers attempt to respond to the following questions
during their presentations:

What aggressions do they identify in relation to privatization?
What informational, organizational, or self-management needs do the organizations detect?
What legal problems do they face and what solutions have they found?
What areas of resistance have they detected (independent systems, territorial systems, cultural or organizational components, legal alternatives)?

We also propose to invite three expert groups: legal, technical, and social,
to hear the first days presentations and propose possible solutions to the
most urgent problems.

Day 2. Wednesday, March 15

9:00 9:30 AMParticipant registration
9:30 12:00 PMPresentations of possible alternatives by legal, technical, and social experts and by international participants
12:00 12:20 PMCoffee break
12:20 2:00 PMPresentations of possible alternatives by legal, technical, and social experts and by international participants
2:00 4:00 PMLunch
4:00 5:30 PMAgreements on joint actions and linkage mechanisms (5 minutes per intervention)
5:30 5:50 PMCoffee break
6:00 6:30 PMConclusion


The workshop will take place at Hotel Lepanto, located on the street of Guerrero #90, col. Buenavista, CP 06300, Mexico City (close to the Hidalgo subway station).

Workshop organized and sponsored by:

Centro de Anlisis Social, Informacin y Formacin Popular (Casifop), Centro
Nacional de Apoyo a las Misiones Indgenas (Cenami), Centro de Servicios
Municipales Heriberto Jara (Cesem),* Habitat International Coalition
Latin American Regional Coordination Office (HIC-AL),* Coordinadora de
Trabajadores en Defensa del Carcter Pblico del Agua (CTDCPA),* Movimiento
Urbano Popular (MUP),* Polaris Institute (Canada).

* Members of the Coalition of Mexican Organizations for the Right to Water

Registration of participants

All those interested in attending this workshop are requested to confirm attendance no later than 10 March 2006 by telephone or e-mail to the HIC-AL office.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the restricted space of the workshop hall, participants should be previously registered. We request that a maximum of two (2) delegates attend per organization, in order to be able to receive the greatest number of organizations.

HIC-AL contact information:
Habitat International Coalition
Regional Office for Latin America (HIC-AL)
Tacuba # 53, 1er piso, Col. Centro
06000 Mexico City, MEXICO
Tel: +52 (55) 55 12 15 86, telefax: + 52 (55) 55 12 67 26
E-mail: tallerdefensaagua@hotmail.com o hic-al@hic-al.org

Contacts: Ramn Rodrguez, Silvia Emanuelli, Lorena Zrate

• Global Themes   • Privatization   • Technical Areas of Housing   • Water and Sanitation   

Habitat International Coalition
General Secretariat