Veronica M. Rios
April 13, 2012
Color & Historical Feature
As you enter Stefani 207, you would usually find a lot of students taking a regular class. On March 20, 2012 there was a different feel in the room, there was barely anyone there to attend an event provided by the UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) team of the UPRM (University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez) in which they showed a documentary called : “Blue Gold: World Water Wars”.
“Thousand of kids die daily because they don’t have clean water. With as little as $1 from the donations you make today, UNICEF provides clean water to 40 kids” said Sandra Pol, professor and director for the UNICEF team at UPRM. “Blue Gold: World Water Wars”, talks about the importance of water in our lives and how people have little awareness of what could happen if we keep misusing this resource. “People think they can do what they want with water as long as they don’t harm its use but then these people come back looking for it realizing we need it to survive” says Jim Olson, an environmental attorney and speaker in the documentary.
The documentary presents various reasons for the water crisis, not only how the water resources are being polluted daily by human beings but also, how they are being abused by companies that sell it for profits. The documentary demonstrates how people are making a business out of water, for example in Puerto Rico they sell a water bottle for about $1when the real value is only about 5 cents, this happens too in other countries. In the documentary, companies such as Veolia and Suez, world Leader Companies in water resources, are reported as the ones that now have major control of this resource and make and estimated revenue of 20 billion euros a year by doing this. These companies, both from France, operate in around 60 countries around the world managing these countries water resources, Puerto Rico being one of these countries.
One student from the small group of people that attended this event, Kharlos Pacheco said: “This documentary is a real eye opener. Most people think, myself included, that the most coveted natural resource is petroleum or natural gas but in fact its water. Eventually water will be only accessible to the rich and it will stop being a natural resource that everyone can enjoy.”
As explained in the documentary, the earth is composed of 97% salt water and the other remaining 3% is fresh water, and that 3% going to waste. These big companies not only own a huge part of the water resources but they are also making the countries lose the limited resources of water they have by wanting to export products or make products in other countries instead of producing them on their own. An example in the documentary explains how in the United States, they export their water to China so they can make their products because it’s cheaper and they have fewer production laws, yet they send these products back to America leaving China with no water resources.
Over the years many activists as well as organizations have fought for awareness of these problems as well as tried to provide solutions to solve them. In the documentary Blue Gold, a notable case of a Korean farmer and activist named Lee Kyung Hae is featured, who opposed neo-liberal globalization. Lee stabbed himself while standing on top of a police barricade at a protest in Cancun, Mexico trying to win a fight against these companies who destroy these resources and make people lose their jobs as well.
Other than activist and organizations, there are other approaches like the designation of March 22 as the World Water Day, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly from 1993 onwards. This year’s Water Day focuses on water and food security problems, in an attempt to call attention on water related challenges faced by society. “This documentary definitely hit the mark. It’s very good and shows exactly how much we can do, yet how little we are doing” Sandra Pol concluded.