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Art and communication in the struggles against water-related injustice and inequality in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico (in Spanish)

Castro, Jose Esteban; Cabral, Ximena Irene; Lauda-Rodriguez, Zenaida Luisa; Dominguez Virgen, J. Carlos; Cabrera Amador, Raúl E.; López, Julio César

This publication belongs to the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network Working Papers Series (http://waterlat.org/publications/working-papers-series/), Vol. 6, No 3.

This issue was developed by members of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network’s Thematic Area 7 (TA7), Art, Communication, Culture, and Education. This is the second issue of the TA7 Series. It features three articles presenting research results from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Article 1, by Ximena I. Cabral, is a long piece developed in a format close to that of a photographic essay, as the author seeks to capture and analyse the “expressive resources” used by the actors during a cycle of social protests against inequality and injustice related to water Politics and management in the Province of Cordoba, Argentina, between 2005 and 2007. The article examines in detail the conflicts arising from the privatization of Cordoba’s water and sanitation utility in 1997, when the government granted a 30-year long concession to a private consortium led by a multinational water company to deliver these services. After the large-scale crisis that affected the country in 2001, caused by a decade of highly destructive neoliberal policies implemented during the 1990s, Argentina’s currency was heavily devaluated, prompting a renegotiation of the contract that in practice amounted to a dollarization of the tariff, which was strongly rejected by the population. This triggered a long cycle of popular protests that faced a very determined alliance between politicians and local and international businesses, which would eventually impose its conditions through different means, including repression. In Article 2, Zenaida Luisa Lauda-Rodríguez examines a successful case of “precautionary” social struggle against a mining project in the State of Santa Catarina, Brazil. The local community, in alliance with other actors, succeeded in preventing the implementation of the mining project through a campaign based on a demand to apply the “precautionary principle”, which passed the burden of demonstrating that the project would not cause harm to the local people and their environment to the mining company, a burden normally loaded on the affected communities in similar cases. The article examines in detail how the use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) by the community allowed it to create, expand and consolidate networks of solidarity that eventually helped them to achieve their objectives. Finally, Article 3, by J. Carlos Domínguez Virgen, is also an innovative contribution presenting a theatre work, including critical comments by two specialists. The author, who completed a PhD where he had examined the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects, decided that the language and communicational dynamics of theatre could provide a better chance to raise awareness and simultaneously contribute to the critique of development policies based on the construction of megaprojects. The piece adopts a satirical approach to explore how policy decisions of such scale are often taken and implemented, delivering a sarcastic analysis, grounded on a real case whose details were anonymized.

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