First major protest against the water crisis in São Paulo – ‘Police will guard the water for those who can pay for it, while we die of thirst’Posted by Jim at Tuesday, March 10, 2015
By Mídia NINJA and Laura Capriglione
27 February 2015
(NINJA) – The Iguatemi Mall, on Faria Lima Avenue, did not seem to welcome the crowd. Neither did the Rolls Royce store, on Cidade Jardim Avenue.
These sacred luxury consumer temples (where the water tanks are always full), lowered their doors before the march that brought together 15 thousand men, women and children - a significant part dressing in MTST (Workers Homeless Movement) t-shirts - in addition to other left-wing organizations protesting on Thursday (26 February 2015) against the water crisis in São Paulo.
It was the first major public protest on the issue and involved people like the seamstress Maria Francisca da Conceição, 69, who walked, wearing her flip-flops, the 6300 meters that separate Largo da Batata, in Pinheiros neighborhood, and the Bandeirantes Palace in Morumbi, where the official residence of governor Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) is located. Maria Francisca has been a resident of an MTST occupation in Numa Pompilius, in the extreme east of the city of São Paulo, since early 2014, when she joined the homeless movement. A São Paulo native, she says she has always been afraid to end up under water, drowning (São Paulo is known for the heavy rains that often result in floods that stop the entire metropolis). She never imagined that she would go through the rigors of a drought.
Francisca has no water tank. When Sabesp (Sao Paulo’s water management company) turns off the supply, as it has every day between 1pm and 7 am recently, she is completely without water. The unified protest was designed to hold the the government of São Paulo and Sabesp responsible for the crisis, and to ask for measures to reduce the impact of the crisis on the poorest population (which has been the most affected by the water rationing, despite official denials). Activists also demand transparency and increasing access to information about the real situation of the reservoirs, and oppose to the state proposal of increasing water supply fares (scheduled to come into effect in April), that is considered a perverse measure, that privileges the biggest and wealthier water consumers, while leaving the poor unassisted.
"I pay … but I shouldn’t … Because water is not a commodity" was one of the slogans yelled by the marching crowd, which also included a water truck as a “parade float”, carefully escorted by heavily armed military police officers. "That's what will happen with the deepening crisis. Police will “guard” the water for those who can pay for it, while we die of thirst. We are here to show that we will not accept it", said protester Reginaldo Silva, a resident of the MTST occupation People's Cup (An occupation started at the onset of the Soccer World Cup in Sao Paulo in 2014. [more]