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Water: Think globally, act locally

The rallying call for activists in the 21st century is “think globally, act locally.” Detroit must come to understand that mantra. Whether the other side of 8 Mile, the family next door or folk in Boliva, South Africa, or Mexico water is a major issue – how to get it to everyone at an affordable price.

Detroit’s city leaders and residents must understand that the battle over the city’s water is linked to a global struggle for control of water. Around the world ordinary persons are facing similar conditions.

In Johannesburg, South Africa activists have been jailed in their efforts to stop the policy of distributing water only to those able to keep pre-paid meters clicking. In Cochabamba, Boliva the movement against privatized water system demonstrated such solidarity that it led to the election of a new, pro-people president, Evo Morales.

There are enough documentary films on the subject to allow a water film festival.

The CBC reports that one in four people on this globe lack access to clean, affordable water. With 40,000 shut offs last year in the city we know many of those are here in Detroit.

Whether it is the present water crisis that renders thousands of residents without water or the move to privatize services bankrolled on the back of taxpayers, poor people are dealing with one adversary: corporate water barons.

This week in Mexico City, thousands of Mexicans marched in defense of accessible water near the site of the fourth World Water Forum, a gathering of the world’s economic elite planning control of the world’s water. The proposal at the forum is simple: Rebuild water systems in poor nations and make money doing it, regardless of the human cost.

That same charge goes to the administration of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the members of the Detroit city council who supported the recent water rate hikes without looking at an affordability plan offered by the Welfare Rights Organization.

Water is a human right. That is why the protest against the city policy of rate hikes at any cost to citizens is gathering momentum. That is why we applaud every Detroiter in good conscience who is out picketing each Sunday at the homes of those council people who turned their back on the voters, the residents.

Access to clean and affordable water will dictate our health and productive future in this city.

Like the South African, Bolivian, Mexican, and Indian people are demanding that the human right to water be recognized, Detroiters must also demand of their leaders to not only affirm but to demonstrate the human and constitutional right of all residents to water.

Detroit officials must ensure public ownership and management of our water system. They must guarantee every resident has water, paying according to ability. Privatization is not the answer. There is no recorded history of a government that succeeds in meeting the needs of its people by selling its assets.

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