Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
THE WATER WARS
[Col. Writ. 12/30/04] Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
The recent visions of the tsunami rushing, raging,
tearing through the Asian coasts has given us all some
interesting insights into the truly stunning, and indeed
awesome power of water, and how nature’s fury is
virtually boundless when unleashed.
Yet there is another watery war that is being waged,
that may affect the lives of millions, but it garners
neither the concern, nor really the attention of the world’s
media. The electronic media, especially, thrives on drama
and conflict, and seeks pictures and stories which reflect
It also affirms the positions of the privileged, as
opposed to the plight of the poor, and powerless. Yet all
across the globe, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America --
and even here -- in North America-- people are living
under the very real threat of the corporatization of water
and water systems. The waters of the earth, which have
been, since the dawn of human civilization, for the collective
usage of the community, is fast becoming just another
commodity -- something to sell. If you can afford it, cool.
If not, tough.
Michael Stark, a senior executive at US Filter, a
subsidiary of the multinational corporation, Vivendi, put
it this way: "Water is a critical and necessary ingredient to the daily life of every human being, and it is also an
equally powerful ingredient for powerful manufacturing
Veronica Lake, a Michigan-based environmental activist,
has noted that corporations acquire the world’s water by three
major methods: a) by "water mining" the underground
aquifers, or deep sources of many of the world’s streams
or rivers; b) by leasing state and government water systems
and collecting revenues; and c) by "managing" city water
In short, there's money in water, and where money is,
there too are corporations, trying to get paid.
That's the dark, unforeseen and treacherous side of the
globalization movement among western governments and
That's also what privatization really means -- taking the
common inheritance of nature, and making it into someone else’s
In South Africa, this movement has resulted in more misery
for the poor. Indeed, cholera rates are higher now there, than in
the days of apartheid. It's often the result of tough austerity
measures imposed by the World Bank or the International
Monetary Fund, where governments are privatizing essential
services, and the costs of living now means the right to buy
water, to live.
Nor is this merely a story for the distant Third World.
In Detroit, Michigan, today, some 40,000 people on the
southwest side have had their water shut off for non-payment.
In many older buildings, water isn't just the stuff that's
supposed to run through faucets; it also provides steam heat
through old radiators. So no water means, no heat. In Detroit.
Scholars say that the next world wars will be fought, not for
oil, but for water, for it is infinitely more precious.
Thankfully, people, all over the world, in South Africa, in
Plachimada, India, in Bolivia, in Brazil, in France, Ghana, and
Canada, are fighting both their sell-out governments and the
corporations for the human right of free access to water.
Those of you who have read my earlier pieces may remember
my piece on the Bolivian water wars in a place called Cochabamba.
There, a popular group calling itself La Coordinadora de Defensa
del Agua y la Vida (Defense Committee in Defense of Water
and Life), organized the poor, the homeless, the street walkers,
and everyone they could to oppose the corporatization of their
water. They ran out the Bechtel corporation. It must spread.
Or else water will become as rare as gold; and as expensive.
[Source: *Veronica Lake, "Corporations Corner Market on Life,
Offer Buy-Back: The New World War: Water," *Against
the Current 108* (Jan./Feb. '04), pp. 26-31.]
Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
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Reprinted by permission of the author.