This paper examines three national-level strategies championed by social movement coalitions in El Salvador in order to address the freshwater crisis by challenging its systemic causes. These strategies include: a national ban on metal mining, a constitutional amendment recognizing the human right to water, and a general water law that legally establishes social control of water resources and services. These strategies are aimed, in part, at balancing power by strengthening the sovereignty of the Salvadoran people to determine their own freshwater future.
Each of these developments is a testament to the strength of Salvadoran social movements. But they have faced significant challenges, which reflect the complex power dynamics of Latin America’s newly rising left within a highly neoliberalized regional context.
Our research team spent 10 days in El Salvador in March 2014 conducting interviews in San Salvador, Cabañas and Chalatenango with activists, politicians, researchers and community leaders in order to document the inspiring struggle for water sovereignty against powerful transnational industries and the global neoliberal regime that protects them.