By Daniel Núñez, Sociologist and candidate for Communist Party deputy in District N° 9
The last rainfalls in the Region of Coquimbo have greened again hills and fields. In the coastal communes such as Los Vilos and Canela the May flower has reborn, one which contrasts with the ochre colour of the very dry earth due to the drought. But the precipitation from the miraculous rains of June should not take us to deceit.
The fallen water is only a small relief that doesn’t solve the problem that goes back for long years, because the drought continues and the desertification advances in an implacable form. According to the General Direction of Waters, you need three years of normal rains to recover the normal levels of the reservoirs of the provinces of Limarí and Choapa. Therefore, the 30 millimeters accumulated to date are not even enough for the germination of a hope of change in tendency.
On the other hand, the Executive has had an irresponsible attitude in front of the calamity of the drought. The policies that the Sebastian Piñera´s administration impels are characterized by grandiloquent announcements that have an extremely enclosed impact and absence of proposals for the medium and long terms.
Only with the social mobilization of the affected communities has the government been forced to adopt a series of palliative measures that, although they help to face the emergency, do not point to bottom line solutions.
The only proposal of larger impact that has been heard from the part of the authorities was the unfortunate sentence of the Subsecretary of Interior and Presidential Delegate for Drought, Rodrigo Ubilla, who proposed to the counties of Limarí and Choapa putting aside agriculture and reconverting to mining activity. By all means, Ubilla´s frankness is appreciated, because it deveals the only proposal of Piñera for the problem: Expanding the great mining industry and putting an end to the agricultural culture.
The depth of the damage that this scourge has caused is incalculable, especially for the peasants, animal breeders and agricultural communities.
For this reason, the civic town council held past June 8th in the half moon of the town of Guangualí, in the commune of Los Vilos, was successful congregating more than 400 representatives of the rural world. That day the mayors of the province of Choapa; councilmen; regional consultants; grass root leaders; committees for rural drinkable water; landless peasants; beekeepers, who all shared a common diagnosis: The land and the fields do not resist another year with drought.
To face this dramatic situation a document arose with the conclusions of the debate that considers 24 proposals that embrace varied themes and that go from concrete measures, such as deepening wells, infiltrating artificially groundwater sources, up to measures that point to a bigger decentralization, such as the creation of a new region for the counties of Petorca and Choapa, and that the water rights return into State hands.
The nationalization of the water is a felt demand that arises from the voice of the own base and grass root leaders. They have full conscience that the future of the area depends on the hydric resource and that while it is treated as a commodity bought and sold in the market, it will continue far from its hands and lands.
The nationalization of the water implies that the State declares the precarious character of the water use permits, establishing the notion of reassignment of rights according to social approaches and public necessities.
In many of those affected by the drought despair is felt, because they perceive the government’s indolence day by day. Some, even, in the face of the risk of a total loss, analyze the possibility to emigrate with their families to La Serena or Santiago.
The explosive mixture arising from drought, privatization and robbery of the water on the part of big proprietors and mining transnational, is generating a volatile situation that can explode in any moment. The detail is that the social protest that is incubated will not take place at hundreds of kilometers of Santiago, like it occurred with the manifestations for gas in Punta Arenas, the regional demands in Aysén or the environmental ones in Freirina. The explosion will take place much more near the central power, and the call of Guangualí will shake Guvernmental Palace.