The New Constitution in Chile - Taking back control of water as a public good
The unprecedented popular uprising in October 2019 led to a plebiscite a year later that showed more than 80 per cent of the Chilean population wanted to bury Augusto Pinochet’s 1980 Constitution, marking a milestone in the country. The Constitutional Convention voted in by popular vote has been given the responsibility of writing a new set of rules for the country.
Chile is faced with a historic opportunity to constitutionally ensure national sovereignty and the rights of local communities over water resources.
The struggle for water on the streets of Bolivia and massive Indigenous mobilisations in Ecuador in defense of the commons opened the door to Constituent Assemblies in these countries at the beginning of the new century. Adapting from resistance in the streets to making change through institutional scenarios is a significant challenge. Among other skills, it requires different strategies in communication and political negotiation. The opportunity in Chile, if sufficiently realized, will add to the lessons that have been learned from Ecuador and Bolivia and will be an example for other Latin American countries.
An example of local communities taking control of their water resources can be found in the Catalan city of Terrassa, where water services were remunicipalised in 2014, and where citizens remain engaged in a new design of genuine public water provision. The Terrassa Water Observatory (OTA) is a pioneering experiment in collective water governance.
This webinar provides an opportunity for an international audience to understand how water is being debated in the new constitution and why it is critically important in Chile, in Latin America and the world, and what we can learn from each other to recover democracy and protect water for the future.
Verónica Vilches MODATIMA Mujer, Activist, APR San José, Comuna de Petorca, Chile
Javier Márquez Corporación Penca de Sábila / RED Vigilancia Interamericana para la Defensa y Derecho al Agua, Colombia
Edurne Bagué PhD in Social Anthropology. Specialist in water, society and culture