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11489 - Water-Grabbing in the Cauca basin: Capitalist exploitation of water, affectations to the afro-descendent communities, and resistances.

The Cauca River, of fluvial and productive importance, is 1,350 km long, crosses 9 Provinces and irrigates 63,300 km²; it has its source in the Colombian Macizo, and flows into the Magdalena River. In the high-basin of the river, Salvajina Dam (22 km long and 1 km wide) was built between 1979 and 1984, and since then it has produced a historical socio-environmental conflict between ancestral uses of water by descendants of African slaves, and extractive and monoculture aims by economic and bureaucratic elites. Current conflicts on water-grabbing in the region are centered in mining, diversion of rivers for power generation, and privatization of public water and sewer for agribusiness, especially agro-fuel.

It has been shown through econometric estimations that taxes to the State have been deceitfully estimated and evaded by these industries. In addition, environmental impacts of Salvajina have not been recognized or compensated, and only recently, attending social mobilization of victims, the Environmental Management Plan has been minded. Environmental and social debts caused by this form of water-grabbing have transformed the livelihoods of communities by taking away their traditional uses of water in small-scale traditional farming, fishing and mining. Adding to environmental racism, characteristic of the accumulation of capital through dispossession, water injustice deepens people’s impoverishment in the vicinity of the dam without water for agriculture, fisheries or domestic consumption.

Keywords: water grabbing, dam, colombia, environmnetal racism

Author: Velez-Torres, Irene (Grupo Conflicto Social y Violencia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia / Kolumbien)

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