by Blair Redlin (CUPE research staff)
World Water Day was marked in Mexico City with a demonstration against privatization at the zocalo (central plaza of the city). The lively protest for water as a human right wrapped up 10 days of water-related events in the Mexican capital.
Participants included Machua indigenous people who are fighting to protect their local river, Mexico City water workers, environmentalists, representatives from the protest camp set up by the first National Assembly for Water Rights, international activists, and the Mexican coalition for water rights, C.O.M.D.A.
CUPE Regional Vice-President Frank Mentes (Saskatchewan) spoke at the demonstration. He thanked the people of Mexico City for the hospitality they offered the CUPE delegation, expressed admiration for Mexican organizing activities in the face of great adversity and limited resources, and pledged an ongoing CUPE campaign to protect public water both at home and internationally.
Earlier in the day, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace held its own action in the zocalo. After parading through the large square, the Canadian group set up a shrine where water was poured and shared. This action in Mexico City coincided with Development and Peace’s presentation of more than 236,000 messages to the Canadian government on Parliament Hill in Ottawa demanding protection of water as a public trust.
The CUPE delegates leave for home Thursday, tired but energized. The information that we have gathered, as well as the courageous example of the Mexican people, will serve our union well as we develop new plans to protect public water in the months and years ahead.