The war for natural resources - El Agua

The war for natural resources - El Agua

By Sylvia Ubal

In recent times, large corporations have come to control water in much of the planet and it is speculated that in the coming years, a few private companies will have monopoly control of almost 75% of this vital resource for life in the world. planet. Water bottling is a business that outpaces the pharmaceutical industry.


At the end of the last century the world entered a new phase of confrontation that we call the New War for natural resources. It is no longer only the political-military character, it does not confront a particular enemy, but it seeks to appropriate the strategic resources necessary for the development and expansion of capitalism. Wars for oil, wars for water, wars for land, wars for the atmosphere, this is the true face of economic globalization. Its orientation is to confront everything that opposes or resists privatization, the usurpation of natural resources, which exceeds the limits of sustainability and justice, which gives it the distinctive of privatizing or expropriating war.

The problem is not natural resources, it is not the people, but the greed of business corporations and the associations between them and the states in order to usurp the resources of the peoples and violate their fundamental rights of life.

They are the geopolitical and geostrategic interests, where the territory, the place, the site is preponderant for the territorial domain. Now, more interested in the military alliance to control, privatize or usurp strategic natural resources that give more life to capitalism, under the domination of transnational companies, international trade, speculative capital and other forms of cooperation that move around the interests of the capitalist economy.

The theory of the United States is to prioritize relations and control in areas where natural resources abound and that allows them to ensure their functioning as a capitalist model and the basis of industrialization. They are the main protagonist of this new war to the extent that they require more than 30% of the energy consumed by humanity, increasing this consumption with the industrializing trend of capitalism that day after day increases energy consumption.

The usurpation of the resources of underdeveloped nations

The great powers want to dominate the poor nations of Latin America that have a large concentration of natural and strategic wealth that they intend to control. Where the ideological veil is nothing but defense, through the anti-terrorist imaginary and that allow them to control energy and fuel, Where there is oil there are conflicts. It does not matter to what extent the appearance of a culture war appears linked to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (and the threat of a similar action in Iran), because the reality was and is that these are wars for oil.

Water sustenance of life a priority object for the United States

Water emerges as the greatest geopolitical conflict of the 21st century since it is expected that in the year 2025, the demand for this element so necessary for human life will be 56% higher than the current supply and those who have water could be the target of looting forced. It is estimated that for the 6.250 million inhabitants that we have reached, 20% more water would be needed than we have.

In addition to this population is the energy consumption to displace more than 1.8 billion private cars; Likewise, there are larger households that have televisions, refrigerators, air conditioning, heating, and computers that consume greater amounts of oil, water, gas and elements of biodiversity that put humanity in a complex conflict to control resources. We must add the accelerated industrialization of China and India, which demand more and more energy consumption and other resources such as iron, steel, aluminum, etc.

We must highlight how to operate in the confrontational scenario. The territory is not interested, but the resource, which can be mineral, water and / or strategic; human or populational, to deconstruct the enemy, so that the space-territory is not an important piece in the chess of confrontation.

This new war requires alliances, not because the military power of the United States is in decline, but because various states that are part of the imperial domain are involved in the control of energy. Europe and Asia that do not have significant strategic resources; The US has them on a limited basis. The Middle East has a large concentration of natural resources in the Caspian Sea area, as does Latin America. Hence, in these regions that have the resources, conflicts are the order of the day and the provocateurs will be the alliances of the great powers. These alliances are a fundamental piece to the extent that industrial society accelerates its development and each technological increase opens one more valve to consumption.

Water is one of the resources that appears as the spoils of the new war and presents a discouraging picture. United Nations calculations indicate that in 2025, the drinkable and sweet reserve of the liquid suitable for human consumption will be 3% of the existing total. Some 2.5 billion people will not have access to drinking water and sanitation services at that time. And most of that 3% is in the glaciers and polar caps, of which the accessible volume is 12 thousand cubic kilometers and humanity consumes half of them. For the next few years, a 100% consumption is forecast and the shortage looms as a new threat. This resource by its nature runs through many stretches of territories, which allows it to be shared by several nations. When exerting control to guarantee supply, there are conflicts over water that are already observed in various parts of the world.

Water is an important resource for exercising political dominance, it is becoming a source of wars to the extent that it is privatized and becomes a commodity. This liquid feeds many transnational companies and they divert the water from the natural drainage systems of the rivers. Altering the flow of a river also modifies the distribution of water, especially if it involves transfers of water between several basins. This product is now a resource that generates money, hence one of the pretensions of the Free Trade Area of ​​the Americas (FTAA) of the United States and of transnational corporations was to provoke the privatization of water resources and accelerate the construction of private hydroelectric plants.

Control of water by monopolies

In recent times, large corporations have come to control water in much of the planet and it is speculated that in the coming years, a few private companies will have monopoly control of almost 75% of this vital resource for life in the world. planet.

Governments around the world - including those in developed countries - are shifting their responsibility for stewardship of natural resources in favor of companies. Large corporations are not many. France's Vivendi and Suez (ranked 51st and 99th respectively in the 2001 Global Fortune 500). Germany's RWE (ranked 53rd), which acquired two major water companies, Thames Water in the United Kingdom and American Water Works, in the United States of America. Private intervention led, in some places, to an exaggerated increase in the cost of water. In the Province of Tucumán - Argentina - the Vivendi company faced popular fury and in South Africa the company concessioned with the supply had no problems in closing the tap of 80% of the residents of Alexandra Township due to lack of payment.

As there are also various infrastructure works projected along the Mesoamerican isthmus, including the exploitation of the abundant fresh water supplies of the Guatemalan Petén and southern Mexico. The IIRSA, the most ambitious of the three, proposes industrial corridors and huge hydroelectric and waterway projects throughout the South American continent. Under this logic, interventionist plans appear, such as militarization and privatizations in southern Argentina, the Iguazú, dams in Central America and the targeting of rivers that facilitate the electrical interconnection between Colombia and Panama through the Darien. The purchase of land with natural resources (water, biodiversity),

As is also the case in India, each river is the cause of important and great problems regarding the ownership of water and its distribution. There are also major conflicts between the United States and Mexico over the water of the Colorado River. The waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which have sustained agriculture for thousands of years in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, have been the cause of several major clashes between those three countries. And both rivers are born in Turkey, and are mighty in one of the driest areas on the planet. The war between Israelis and Palestinians is to some extent a war over water. The subject of contention is the Jordan River, used by Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank. Israel's industrial-scale agriculture requires water from that river as well as groundwater from the West Bank.

The Bank encourages the privatization of natural resources

The World Bank plays a key role, encouraging privatizations and lending money for reforms in the water system, investing and ultimately acting as judge in case of conflict between investors and states.

While entire populations do not have access to sanitation, large corporations sell pure bottled water to cure the evil. Between 1970, 2000 and 2009, the sale of water grew incalculably. For example, in 1970 one billion liters were sold in the world. In 2000, 84 billion. In 2009, five hundred and ninety-eight billion liters of water were sold

Another important point for the US domain project is the Amazon and the school children in the 6th grade geography text. Degree is mentioned that it is located in South America, one of the poorest regions in the world, it is part of eight different and strange countries, irresponsible, cruel and authoritarian, drug trafficking peoples and also, they are uneducated and ignorant peoples, being able to cause the death of the whole world within a few years ... they teach them that these are international areas ..., in other words, they are preparing the North American public opinion, so that within a few years they can take over this Brazilian territory and the neighboring countries .

The Amazon is coveted by transnationals

The Amazon, in one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems in the world, has approximately 7 million 160 thousand square kilometers of humid forest area, it constitutes the largest natural reserve on the planet and yet it is in danger. The Amazon basin is the depository of the largest extension of tropical forests on the planet (56%) and of a great biological variety of ecosystems, species and genetic resources. There are about a million and a half known species and it is estimated that there may be more than ten million. A slight inventory indicates the presence of 50,000 varieties of mammals; 20,000 of reptiles, amphibians and birds; 21,000 fish; 140,000 vertebrates; 90,000 of invertebrates and arthropods; 90,000 from lower floors; 270,000 from higher plants and 55,000 from microorganisms. Through the Amazon and its more than 7,000 tributaries 6,000 trillion cubic meters of water run per second. It is also the area that provides the most oxygen (40% of the world's oxygen) and captures the greatest amount of carbon. That is why it is known as the lung of humanity.

For these reasons and it is located on the border with Peru and Brazil, the military armored belt in the region has been reinforced, which stores the following infrastructure

"Radar and land base in Marandúa, Vichada.
"Army Brigade 24 in Putumayo" Army Eastern Brigade in Pto. Carreño and Vichada Department "Radar and land base in San José del Guaviare and Barrancón Training School" Army Brigade in Caquetá.
"Tres Esquinas Military Base, Putumayo.
"River patrol brigade in Puerto Leguízamo, Putumayo.
"Ground-based radar in Leticia, Amazonas (13).

All this is part of the Colombia plan whose cost was at the beginning, of 7,500 million dollars, of which: the United States paid 1,500 million, the European Union 1,500 million and the remaining 4,500 million is a loan to the world bank that has to To make the Colombian State, the sum of 7.500 million dollars was applied to the internal war.

The struggle is between those who believe that water should be considered a wild card or marketable good (such as wheat, coffee or corn) and those who say that it is a social good related to the right to life.

The problem is that while water is a resource that is taken for granted in many places, it is very scarce for the 1.1 billion people who lack access to safe drinking water, to which should be added another 2.4 billion people who do not. they have access to adequate sanitation. More than 2.2 billion people in underdeveloped countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with the lack of clean water, adequate sanitation and hygiene. In addition, almost half of the inhabitants of developing countries suffer from diseases caused, directly or indirectly, by the consumption of contaminated food or water, or by disease-causing organisms that develop in water. With sufficient supplies of clean water and adequate sanitation, the incidence of some diseases and death could be reduced by as much as 75 percent. In some areas, the extraction of water has had devastating consequences on the environment. The water table in many regions of the world is constantly decreasing and some rivers, such as the Colorado in the United States and the Yellow in China, frequently dry up before reaching the sea.

In China, the northern water tables have dropped by thirty-seven meters in thirty years, and have dropped by one and a half meters every year since 1990. The inland Aral Sea in Central Asia has already lost half its size. Lake Chad was once the sixth largest lake in the world, today it has lost almost 90% of its surface and is dying. This resource is such a necessary commodity that it could become the subject of political fights, if viewed only as a business: dams, irrigation canals, purification and desalination technologies, sewerage systems, and wastewater treatment. Water bottling should not be forgotten, as it is a business that outperforms the pharmaceutical industry.

The origin of this commercialization of water would have to be found in November 2001, when natural resources, as well as health and education, began to be the subject of negotiations in the WTO (World Trade Organization). The final goal is the liberalization of public services by 2005. This sounds arid and boring, it can be simplified: what until now was regulated by the states, will become a free trade market.

Within this context, there are two likely scenarios:

The largest known aquifers are:
- Nubian Sandstone Aquifer with a volume of 75 billion cubic meters.
- North Sahara Aquifer with a volume of 60 billion cubic meters.
- Guaraní aquifer system with a volume of 37 billion cubic meters.
- Great Artesian Basin with a volume of 20 billion cubic meters.
- High Plains Aquifer with a volume of 15 billion cubic meters.
- North China Aquifer with a volume of 5 billion cubic meters.

The Guaraní Aquifer

The aquifer is 132 million years old. Its origins date back to when Africa and America were still united. Its extension has the known dimensions of the American continent: 1,190,000 square kilometers, an area larger than that of Spain, France and Portugal combined.

It is known as the Giant of MERCOSUR because this immense reservoir of pure water extends from the pantanal in the north of Brazil, occupies part of Paraguay and Uruguay and ends in the Argentine pampas. It is even suspected that, at enormous depths, the aquifer is connected with the lakes of Patagonia. The total volume of stored water is immense. The currently exploitable volume is 40 to 80 cubic kilometers, a figure equivalent to four times the total annual demand of Argentina.

Research on the Guaraní Aquifer System (SAG) was, until 1997, in charge of the University of Santa Fe and the University of Buenos Aires, the University of Uruguay and several Brazilian Public Universities. But from that date it became part of a project financed by the World Bank and everything was tinged with suspicions.

In Argentina, through a study carried out by the journalist Elsa Bruzzone, a worrying conclusion was reached: The presence of the Commander of the US Army South, in the Triple Border -Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina- the declaration of the State Department the rumors that there would be terrorists there have one objective: to control the Guaraní Aquifer System (SAG), a veritable ocean of underground drinking water that has its main recharging point there. Brazil, also raised the cry in the sky, declaring through Aurelio García that: The United States put the World Bank and the Organization of American States in charge of a project that seeks to detect the magnitude of the resource, ensure its use in a sustainable way, avoid contamination and maintain permanent control until when it deems appropriate.

Those who defend the initiative of the Organization of American States assure that due to lack of money in the universities, the support of contributions from the GEF was sought, a fund where all the countries of the world put money to develop environmental studies and projects. A good project was presented and it was approved, which means that somehow the money invested in that fund is being recovered. The World Bank handles the contribution. It is like the account operator of a bank.

The scope of the water problem not only points to the pocket of any consumer, but it is a thrust to the stomach of the prevailing market fundamentalism in the global village, for which everything has a price and even more so what is scarce. Fortune magazine said: Water promises to be in the 21st century what oil was in the 20th century, the precious commodity that determines the wealth of nations. However, 160 governments meeting in The Hague -Holland- in 2000 agreed to define water as a human need and not as a human right. This right is neither bought nor sold.

If globalization is pushed to seize these resources, wars will increase and globalization will slow to a halt due to ecological catastrophes and conflicts over natural resources

So, to all of the above, a strong dyunctive is imposed in times when climate change affects human survival, will it be appropriate to protect the ecosystem and allow development in an area, where nature and men live in perfect harmony? The logging companies, miners and exploiters of bauxite, aluminum, precious metals, gold, copper go in pursuit of their goals, ignoring the need to maintain ecological balance and minimize the amount of damage caused by their practices.

Paradoxically, man, in search of development and alternative energy sources, displaces his similar, taking away his heritage and identity (without forgetting the impact on animal life) and causing the emigration of entire towns and villages. Add in the expansion of gold seekers who try their luck stealing in previously respected areas.

That is why indigenous peoples have opposed the deterioration of the Amazon, demanding respect for their home and the planet. For them, the relationship with mother earth is the basis of their existence and the appropriate way to maintain ways of life built in perfect symbiosis with the laws of nature. If the recent Copenhagen Climate Change Summit was a great failure, it is up to the peoples to make their own decisions for the good of themselves and of our planet.

By Sylvia UbalInternational Barometer - National and International Political and Social Analysis of Venezuela and the Rest of the World
Director: Diego Olivera - Managing Editor: Miguel Guaglianone

- Wars for resources, Editorial Tenencias, Spain, pp.25.3 /.
- Water special:
- Water and the FTAA., Https://
- Guaraní Aquifer Project: /
- The underground water deposits:
- The problems of water and agriculture:
- UNESCO Water Portal:
- H2O Magazine:

Video: How the US poisoned Navajo Nation (August 2021).