The Religious Case for Water as A Human Right from The Andes

The Religious Case for Water as A Human Right from The Andes

Terence A. Mcgoldrick 

Theology Department & Associate Director, Program for Ethics in Business Education, Providence College, Providence, USA

Page: 
470-481
|
DOI: 
https://doi.org/10.2495/DNE-V12-N4-470-481
Received: 
N/A
|
Accepted: 
N/A
|
Published: 
1 February 2018
| Citation

OPEN ACCESS

Abstract: 

For the first time since la conquista, a Latin American country is governed by its indigenous peoples, with a return to traditional models of society that propose an alternative to the failures of globalization. These changes began when the water war erupted in 2000 after the Bolivian government allowed the multi-national, Bechtel, to privatize its water supply with pressure from the World Bank. Ultimately, Bechtel withdrew, giving rise to the grassroots indigenous social movement led by Evo Morales that overturned the Bolivian political order. The country’s new constitution grants nature status as a juridical person and states that water can never be privatized. Bolivia was a leading force in the United Nations declaration of water as a human right in 2013. This essay explains the theological cosmovision behind these moral arguments and places them in context.

Keywords: 

Bolivia, development ethics, indigenous, post-neoliberalism, privatization, rights of nature, water rights

  References

[1] Dangl, B., The price of fire: Resource wars and social movements in Bolivia, AK Press: Oakland, CA, 2007.

[2] Farthing, L. C. & Kohl, B. H., Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and change, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2014.

[3] Shultz, J. & Draper, M. (Eds.), Dignity and defiance: stories from Bolivia’s challenge to globalization, University of California Press: Berkeley, CA, 2009. In an interview on July 4, 2014.

[4] An English translation of the 2009 Bolivian Constitution, available at: https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Bolivia_2009?lang=en#20. (accessed May, 2017).

[5] The United Nations has a group dedicated to water issues called UN Water, available at: www.unwater.org. (accessed May, 2017).

[6] The Camdessus Report of the World Water Council and the 3rd World Water Forum is considered a landmark study on this question, available at: http://www.worldwatercouncil.org/fileadmin/world_water_council/documents_old/Library/Publications_and_reports/CamdessusReport.pdf. (Accessed April 2017).

[7] Russell, A. F. S., Incorporating social rights in development: transnational corporations and the right to water. International Journal of Law in Context, 7(1), pp. 1–30, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1744552310000388

[8] Crabtree, J. & Chaplin, A., Bolivia: Processes of change, Zed Books: London, UK, 2013.

[9] Olivera, O. & Lewis, T., Cochabamba!: Water war in Bolivia, South End Press: Boston, MA, 2004.

[10] McGoldrick, T.A., Episcopal conferences worldwide and catholic social thought, in theory and praxis: an update. Theological Studies, 75(2), pp. 376–403, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1177/0040563914529908

[11] McGoldrick, T.A., Episcopal conferences worldwide on catholic social teaching. Theological Studies, 59(1), pp. 22–50, 1998. https://doi.org/10.1177/004056399805900102

[12] Brady, B.V., Essential catholic social thought. Orbis Books: Maryknoll, NY, 2008, Catholic Social Thought: Encyclicals and Documents from Pope Leo XIII to Pope Francis, 3rd Edition, Eds David J. Obrien and Thomas A. Shannon Orbis Books: Maryknoll, NY 2016.

[13] Meier B.M., Kayser, G.L., Amjad, U.Q. & Bartram, J., Implementing an evolving human right through water and sanitation policy. Water Policy, 15, pp. 116–133, 2013. https://doi.org/10.2166/wp.2012.198

[14] Peppard, C.Z., Just water, theology, ethics and the global water crisis. Orbis Books: Maryknoll, NY, p. 184, 2014.

[15] Conferencia Episcopal Boliviana, Tierra Madre Fecunda Para Todos, Published by the CEB, La Paz, Bolivia February 2000. Church documents are widely published in multiple formats so they are commonly cited by paragraph, available at: http://www.iglesia.org.bo/media/com_igleobras/documentos/2000.02.14_cpas_cartapastoraltierramadrefecunda.pdf. (accessed January, 2017).

[16] Conferencia Episcopal Boliviana, Agua Fuente de la vida y don para todos, Published by the CEB, La Paz, Bolivia January 2003, available at: http://www.iglesia.org.bo/media/com_igleobras/documentos/2003.01.12_cpas_cartapastoralaguafuentedevida.pdf. (accessed January, 2017).

[17] Conferencia Episcopal Boliviana El Universo, Don de Dios para la Vida, Published by the CEB, La Paz, Bolivia Feburary 2010. Hereafter (UD-¶#) available at: http://www.iglesia.org.bo/media/com_igleobras/documentos/2012.03.22_cpas_CartaPastoralEluniversodondeDiosparalavida.pdf. (accessed January, 2017).

[18] Arnold, S. P., ¿Cómo hacer teología desde los Andes? Un recorrido dialogado de diferentes campos de la teología en perspectiva de teología andina, Teología Andina, t.2, ed., Josef Estermann, Instituto Superior Ecuménico Andino de Teología (ISEAT), La Paz, Bolivia 2006.

[19] Puebla, 3ra. Conferencia General Del Episcopado Latino Americano (CELAM), p. 234m, 1979, available at: http://issuu.com/celam/docs/puebla/1?e=0. (accessed May 2017). Karl Rahner is one of the most famous theologians to elaborate the meaning of God already there among the indigenous peoples and ahead of the Gospel, yet dependent upon Christ for redemption. See Kelly, Geffrey B., Karl Rahner: Theologian of the Graced Search for Meaning, Fortress press: Minneapolis, MN: 1993.

[20] Longchar, W., Liberation theology and indigenous people. in The reemergence of liberation theologies. Models for the wenty-First Century, ed. T. Cooper, Palgrave MacMillian: Basingstoke, GBR, pp. 111–121, 2013.

[21] Sheldrake, P., Spaces for the sacred: place, memory and identity, Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, MD, 2001.

[22] Pope Francis, Laudato si, 2015, available at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html. (accessed January 2017).

[23] Martin, K.J., Indigenous symbols and practices in the catholic church: visual culture missionization and appropriation. Ashgate Publishing Group: Aldershot, UK, 2010.

[24] The Rights of Mother Earth (2010) Law 071 of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Chapter 3, art.7. These rights are listed as to life, to diversity of life, to water, to clean air, to equilibrium, to restoration and to pollution-free living. Bolivia’s Law of the Rights of Mother Earth is published in English translation available at: http://www.worldfuturefund.org/Projects/Indicators/motherearthbolivia.html. (accessed May, 2017).

[25] The English translation of the Constitution of Ecuador, 2008, available at: http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Ecuador/english08.html. (accessed May, 2017).

[26] As part of my interview July 5, 2014, with the help of Professor Jeff Pugh, on a field trip to Bolivia and Ecuador for this research.

[27] Nash, R.F., The rights of nature, edited by Roderick Frazier Nash, University of Wisconsin Press: Madison, WI, 1989.

[28] For a history and legal analysis of the Ecuadoran declaration of rights of nature see: Akchurin, M., Constructing the rights of nature: constitutional reform, mobilization, and environmental protection. Ecuador: Law & Social Inquiry, 40(4), pp. 937–968, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1111/lsi.12141

[29] Maloney, M., Building an alternative jurisprudence for the earth: the international rights of nature tribunal. Vermont Law Review, 41(1), pp. 129–142, 2016.

[30] Russell, A.F.S., Incorporating social rights in development: transnational corporations and the right to water. International Journal of Law in Context, 7(1), pp. 1–30, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1744552310000388

[31] Toland, E.M.M., Bolivia: an update on TIPNIS, available at: http://maryknollogc.org/article/bolivia-update-tipnis. (accessed January 2017).