Conflicts and environmental demand around water in the Córdoba-Orizaba metropolitan region, Veracruz

Conflicts and environmental demand around water in the Córdoba-Orizaba metropolitan region, Veracruz

By José Cruz Agüero Rodríguez

Civil society and non-governmental organizations mobilize through social forums and world and regional summits for the defense of water. The most outstanding demands oppose the privatization tendencies promoted by international financial organizations and transnational corporations that seek world control of water resources.

Issues related to conflicts around water have been gaining importance as the crisis due to scarcity, inequitable distribution and privatization of water resources, make water a factor of social tension and object of controversy as a vital resource of the existence and fundamental human right. Today we are witnessing a process of intensification of conflicts that include transnational basins, national hydrological regions and nation states (Ávila. 2002; Biswas, 2003).

Although conflicts over water are long-standing, at the present time the motives and demands are multiplying and new values ​​become an object of social concern and political mobilization of social actors. The purpose of this paper is to analyze contemporary conflicts around water, emphasizing the inclusion of environmental values ​​and demands and how they modify, transform or allow the persistence of traditional demands for access to water. Thus, a central research question can be formulated, about how and why is environmental demand built in movements related to water? This will be a central question that will guide the analysis in general, emphasizing the study of the Córdoba-Orizaba metropolitan area (ZMCO), in the Blanco river basin, in the center of the state of Veracruz, Mexico.

Environmental demands as an object of global concern

Since 1974, after the United Nations Conference on Population, the issue of limits in the use of natural resources has regained vital importance. A series of events at the scientific level, technological development and natural and anthropic catastrophes alerted to a perception of global threat: the understanding of the second law of thermodynamics and the degradation of nature; research on global warming and the greenhouse effect; the perverse effect of the massive application of pesticides and agrochemicals; Nuclear accidents and industrial risks, among others, constituted an adequate framework to recognize that environmental problems cannot be dealt with within the framework of a region or a single country, that they transcend political borders to become global problems concerning the relations of economic and social inequality prevalent in today's world (Moreno, 2006: 291-296)

The environmental problem and the concept of sustainability as a more comprehensive perception of the economy, the environment and society, became a suitable paradigm for the search for egalitarian social and economic relationships, and a relationship compatible with nature.

The international agenda on the problem of water set its own course. From 1987 to 2006, multinational organizations including the UN, the European Union, the IMF, among others, at least convened 12 international meetings in the search for agreements and agreements that would make possible the promotion of actions, basin management, intermediation conflict, public policy development, scientific and technological cooperation and governance of water resources.

The most important forums were in Argentina in 1987 where there is debate on health and pollution; In 1992, the Dublin forum gave priority to urban sustainability, the conservation of ecosystems and gender equality; The Johannesburg summit in 2002 emphasized international cooperation, risk and disaster management; The fourth water forum in Mexico in 2006 deals with the basin vision, rights for access to water, risk and disaster management, pollution and comprehensive management. (Biswas, 2003)

However, parallel to the official agenda, there is a mobilization promoted by civil society and non-governmental organizations through social forums and world and regional summits for the defense of water that claims access to water as a fundamental human right, They oppose the privatization of water-producing ecosystems and services, they fight for comprehensive watershed management and their conservation with social participation, respecting the rights of the peoples and communities that hold water resources. The most outstanding demands are opposed to the privatization tendencies promoted by international financial organizations and transnational corporations that seek world control of water resources. (Arrojo, 2006)

Ecological modernization in water laws

One of the results that brought with it international concern about the environment and specifically the issue of water, was what Beck called ecological modernity, where industrialized countries must assume the growing social and ecological risks derived from modernization (Beck, 2002) , promoting an environmental discourse that allows economic growth and the controlled management of risks and dangers produced by this risk society (Gallardo, 1999). Since the Rio Summit in 1992, a large number of countries, including Mexico, have modified their laws and introduced ecological and sustainability principles (Biswas, 2003: 31), allocating resources, reorienting public policies and generating programmatic actions for the achievement of the objectives proposed in the international agenda within the framework of the alleged conception of sustainability. On the other hand, there is an increase in non-governmental organizations that oppose technological measures, the privatization of natural resources, fight for the human right to water, and depredatory processes of the environment. (Barlow, 2002)

Thus, we find parallel and contradictory discourses around environmental and sustainability values. On the one hand, we can recognize instrumental environmentalism, typical of neoliberalism, which privileges material reproduction and capital accumulation, internalizes its values ​​from environmental criticism, but proposes technological solutions, commercial liberation measures and limiting the welfare state reduced to normative surveillance. and regulatory intervention (Brand, 2005: 22).

Environmental preservationism, in turn, conceives the environment with its own value, susceptible to damage, degradation and rational use. Broadly speaking, it is possible to distinguish at least two visions of the environment, one tending towards anthropocentrism and the other eco-centric with its various nuances. (Borja, 1988; Cirelli, 2004: 23)

Thus, conflicts over water have introduced environmental values ​​and new rights that re-dimension traditional conflicts and orient new forms of struggle within the framework of what they call ecological modernity. We will analyze how this orientation manifests itself in a region of central Veracruz.

Location and Methodology

The study area is located in the central region of the state of Veracruz known as "the great mountains" in the Sierra Madre Occidental, the metropolitan areas of Córdoba and Orizaba form an important conurbation whose central dynamics is urban concentration and industrial development from XIX century. Currently, around the dynamics of these central cities, industrial, commercial and main regional services are concentrated, bringing together a series of medium-sized cities and their rural hinterland that provide raw materials and environmental services. In addition, they are the cities that demand the largest amounts of drinking and quality water for human, industrial, service, commercial and agricultural consumption, often at the expense of the rural communities that surround them. Both ZMs. they make up a current population of 643 574 residents of 15 municipalities. The Z.M. Córdoba contributes 276,553 inhabitants and Orizaba 367,021 (Conapo, 2005).

The database used for the following analysis of the conflict around water in the ZMCO was taken from two regional journalistic sources: El Mundo de Córdoba and El Sol de Orizaba, about 800 notes on issues related to water were selected. water and from here 251 notes were chosen that had direct references on situations of conflict. For practical purposes, a conflict situation was considered to be any reference to social tensions around the appropriation and use of water where two or more social agents were opposed or confronted by the access or defense of the vital liquid. The temporal and spatial selection that we consider goes from the year 2000 to 2006 because it is a period where the emergence of protests that include environmental values ​​is seen with more precision.

Typology of conflicts

For the purposes of this essay, a typology was proposed to identify the type of predominant conflicts and proceed with their analysis. Due to the nature of the demands, the conflicts were divided into three large categories. Claim disputes; socio-environmental and environmental. The vindication demands are associated with the struggles for access to water: distribution, basic infrastructure, control of aquifers, the uses of the liquid, the quality and rates, and the political use of the resource. In other words, they are disputes whose basic objective is vital access to water or its control for political purposes, without considering the conditions of production and protection of aquifers. Due to socio-environmental conflicts, we consider those disputes that contain claims but include express demands on the protection of aquifers and actions for the conservation of hydrosystems. Finally, due to environmental conflicts, we consider all those disputes that are explicitly expressed for the care, protection and environmental conservation and that see in the ecosystems and conservationist values ​​a motive in itself beyond the fundamental needs for water.

Thus, we proceeded to create a database that centrally identified three major aspects: the type and nature of the demands to identify the type of conflict. Second, the affiliation of social actors was recorded to recognize what type of social sectors make demands possible by type of conflict. Third, variables on the conflict cycle were included that would indicate the main strategies of the collective action repertoire used by the participants and thus have an approach in the way that environmental demands are built and traditional ones persist.

Results of the global analysis of the database

According to the journalistic notes analyzed for the period 2000-2006, we can deduce that the largest number of controversial actions fall on claims or socio-economic claims, occupying a percentage of more than 75%. The main claims are aimed at solving the scarcity of water for domestic consumption, the construction of infrastructure or drinking water systems and social mobilization to oppose the delivery of water from their groundwater tables to other regions or cities.

While socio-environmental claims that include socio-economic claims, probable damage to health and also protection of ecosystems or water tables, occupy a second position in the records made. Finally, the environmental demands, which are those focused on the defense of environmental values, present the least number of cases, these demands are related to problems regarding the protection of water tables, the conservation of ecosystems and the declarations on the sanitation of river currents and complaints against the pollution mainly from industry and domestic wastewater, among others

It should be noted that despite the fact that the environmental problem is physically proven and there is strong mobility due to the damage caused by pollution and the risks that these imply to health, the greatest number of environmental demands is registered at the moment in which people, neighborhoods or communities are directly affected in their living conditions, involving damage to health or impairing their economic activities. This is a strong motive for social mobility and encourages public demonstration.

Likewise, it is to this extent that the associated environmental demand is manifested as a necessity, in part because the approved environmental laws require and punish the contamination of aquifers more rigorously and condition the levels of contamination that must be discharged into the water tables.

The regulatory framework, then, with its limitations and ambiguities, is an important element to legitimize the mobilization and social demand for the health and protection of aquifers.

Social sector of conflict.

The analytical summary provided by the graph on the scope of the conflict indicates that the greatest number of conflicts are located in urban areas, followed by those located in the rural-urban relationship and finally rural conflicts (Illustration # 2). The demographic weight of the main cities, in this case Córdoba and Orizaba, as well as the distribution and access to liquid, is a permanent source of urban mobilization for access to water, the efficiency of its distribution and the quality of its consumption. Likewise, it is in these cities that the problems of pollution and intensification of water consumption, associated with industrialization, are concentrated, which is why urban areas become a permanent field of disputes over water. On the other hand, it is in the urban setting that the mobilization for environmental values ​​becomes explicit by requiring more theoretical elaboration, thematic specialization, management of environmental norms and political resources for activism. In other words, it is in the urban context where environmental organizations have their main area of ​​action and establish their basic strategies. The second level is the rural-urban relationship where disputes for the control and conservation of aquifers are manifested between rural and urban areas, which can be defined as appropriation conflicts for water. The third reason is associated with the contamination of rural areas by urban-industrial externalities and the consequent reaction of rural areas in defense of drinking water, health risks and damage to economic activities.

Often it is the rural areas and the peripheral neighborhoods of the cities that directly suffer the damaging effects of the urban-industrializing phenomenon, but they are also those who have the least political resources for mobilization. The smallest number of conflictive cases is found in rural areas proper. The main problems are associated with the basic infrastructure, distribution of the liquid and control of aquifers. Other cases have to do with agricultural irrigation areas, but are less representative.

According to the type of demands, the largest disputes fall in the urban rural area, but they do not contradict the previous analysis because, viewed in isolation, it is in the urban area that the greatest number of tensions arise over water, but when relating the Demands with their consequences shows the close relationship between rural mobilizations as a result of externalities and the intensification of consumption in central cities. Seen in isolation, the rural area is the one that reflects the least conflict in the references found, to this must be added the scarce dissemination of rural problems through the printed media.

Typology of conflicts and frequency

The analyzed journalistic notes gave us 251 references on various types of social conflict over the appropriation and defense of water. After a more careful selection in which the repetitive references to the same disputes were eliminated and considering that protests over water shortages in cities and agrarian congregations multiplied and appeared with some regularity in the dry season, we only recovered those references that generalized the malaise around the lack of infrastructure, water scarcity, efficiency in the management of the liquid and protests over prices and rates in water consumption, which significantly reduced the number of cases but give a clearer idea of ​​the problem water and subsequent demands. When a conflict was prolonged in time and appeared repeatedly, we only considered a conflict by clarifying its temporality. In the same way we did with the socio-environmental conflicts, we reduced the number of journalistic reports to one case or two when the same agent affected another social conglomerate and it can be analyzed as a separate case, such is the case of the Kimberly Clark paper industry that it affects several municipalities and receives differentiated protests. We follow the same criteria for environmental disputes.

The result of this operation shows us a number of 67 conflicts in the 6 years recorded, of which socio-economic conflicts represent 45%; the socio-environmental 43% and the environmental 12%. These first figures show the intensity of the conflicts in the ZMCO where there is regularly the perception that the level of conflict is low given the abundance of water resources, as assumed by official agencies. Likewise, it allows us to make evident the social unrest due to the use, appropriation, social and environmental management of water resources in the region. The percentage equalization between conflicts for subsistence and consumptive uses of water and those that include environmental demands, are an indication of how socio-environmental or environmental demands themselves have become a reason for public protest and social activism and compete in intensity with those of daily cut. It may be that it is still far from a social internalization of environmental values ​​in the region, but the perception of environmental risk, damage to health and property of third parties have become a reason for public demand and collective action as shown by the diversity of mobilizations for the violation of rights, public health and damage to ecosystems.

It is also important to see how the bulk of conflicts are concentrated in metropolitan cities and municipalities, basically in the cities of Córdoba, Orizaba and Ixtaczoquitlan, where disputes over access to drinking water, lack of basic infrastructure and unequal distribution are increasing. of the liquid added to an inefficient administration of the water. But also the socio-environmental and environmental mobilizations are significant according to their vocation of urban-industrial concentration. In the case of Ixtaczoquitlan, socio-environmental disputes become relevant, indicating that the industrial concentration has not fostered policies consistent with the healthy management of the environment and this may be a detonator of the limits to urban-industrial growth, at least following the pattern of intensive and predatory use of water resources that has been followed so far. Precisely this model makes it possible that, being a municipality with abundant water resources, there are severe deficiencies in drinking water supply and unequal distribution between human consumption and industrial consumption. Another city that stands out for its growing demand for water for human consumption is the city of Mendoza, which has few sources of supply depending on the Municipality of Nogales. The sources on this municipality indicate an inefficient handling of the liquid and unequal distribution among other reasons. Córdoba, Fortín and Ixtaczoquitlan are the ones who present greater emphasis on environmental movements as the activity of two environmental organizations is concentrated there in the protection of the “Metlac Canyon”. Next, we will make a brief synthesis of the main disputes over water, taking into account the typology presented here.

Socio-economic demands in claims conflicts

Conflicts over access to water and relative scarcity are more intense in large cities and municipal capitals, as we noted earlier, where water sources are diminished and the needs for industrial water and human consumption grow significantly.

Córdoba, Orizaba, Mendoza city are those who suffer, in the period studied, the greatest deficiencies for drinking water with a deficit of up to 40%. The most persistent conflicts appear regularly each year in the dry season, being the period from March to June, the months of greatest intensification in the mobilization for water, becoming a real problem for the authorities in each municipality.

For example, Córdoba and Orizaba during the six years observed presented this problem continuously, but the shortage has already manifested itself in a critical way since the 80s of the last century (Gobierno del Estado, 1979; 1988). In Cordoba, for example, the liquid became scarce in 107 colonies of the city. A similar case occurred in Orizaba throughout this period. This fact is explained by the fact that the water sources that traditionally supplied the cities became insufficient as the population increased rapidly, their flows reduced or they were invaded by the city, channeled to drains or plugged tributaries.

It was not until the construction of the Nogales-Córdoba-Orizaba aqueduct in 2006 that the pressures for public supply dropped considerably. However, the problem did not disappear completely, mainly because now the conduction systems remain obsolete, with constant leaks or repairs that frequently leave entire colonies without the vital liquid. Population pressures for water were becoming a real problem of political control for local authorities, increasing political pressure measures in urban areas, as there was a shortage of up to 40% in the main cities.

In this sense, the Nogales-Córdoba-Orizaba aqueduct project was an unbeatable opportunity to alleviate the urban water needs of the main cities of the ZMCO. Civil resistance to deliver water to the central cities led to the main regional conflict lasting almost 6 years. The intervention of the highest state authority had to be more aggressive, leading to institutional violence. Political errors and lack of foresight to involve the population in the project had to lead to open repression and formal court-ordered trials against opponents.

Water scarcity is not only related to population growth and the growing demand for water, but it is also due to technical and political issues.

For example, in 2006, the water authorities of Córdoba and Orizaba reported that waste from leaks and obsolete equipment represented about 40% of the distributed liquid, this percentage is approximately equivalent to the flow that the Nogales-Orizaba-Córdoba aqueduct carries of approximately 500 Lps. If the drinking water distribution systems were efficient, the conflict between these three municipalities could have been avoided. To this must be added the non-existence or insufficiency of drinking water treatment systems, for example Córdoba extracts 688.18 Lps. from three water sources and only treats 30 Lps. there being an abysmal difference between used water and treated water (report. Hidrosistema de Córdoba, 2008)

Likewise, it is difficult to see environmental demands in the demands for water scarcity and basic infrastructure. The demands most related to this issue are linked to the protection and conservation of wells, springs and streams, however this protection is constantly reduced to cleaning, sanitary protection, desilinization and decontamination. That is, to keep the tributary in conditions of use without a long-term forecast that considers the ecosystem protection of water bodies; for example, reforestation of the water-producing area, protection of the green areas of the basin or sub-basin, recharge of aquifers, or reuse of treated water. This is an indicator that environmental values, although they are increasingly present in the normative and cultural systems of the population, are still not considered central in the protection of aquifers. It deprives the immediate interest of appropriation for the liquid, the distribution, the drinking water systems, the politicization of the programs and the distribution of the water. The measures for the conservation and environmental production of water are hardly visible in the disputes over water consumption, despite the fact that the reforms to the water law introduced values ​​of sustainability and integral management by hydrological basins.

Analysis of the demand for access and defense of water

The results obtained by the analysis of the information indicate that the claims are not presented in isolation, frequently two or more claims are related in the same conflict, however for analytical purposes we consider the order of priority in which a claim appears and two or three more that appear associated, in such a way that we obtained 10 types of predominant demands in the various conflicts analyzed. The most outstanding requests are those related to scarcity and infrastructure in poor condition, occupying 29.5% of the cases analyzed, it is here where those fundamentally socio-economic requests for access to water are located. Secondly, in a comparable percentage of 28.5%, the lawsuits for contamination, condition of aquifers and deterioration of ecosystems are located, which are complaints related to urban-industrial externalities and where socio-environmental controversy is frequently generated. Thirdly, we locate the disagreements due to infrastructure in poor condition and unequal distribution of water, which represents 9.6%, which basically affects suburban neighborhoods and peasant communities.As we saw previously, social mobilization here is important since leaks and systems Driving systems are obsolete and lacking in maintenance, being a frequent problem in urban and rural areas. The fourth place with 9.3%, is occupied by disputes related to political control and the condition of abundance or scarcity of aquifers, this dispute is related to the control of water and the resistance of the population that holds the aquifers to deliver it to needs external either rural or urban. Here the political ends frequently intersect with the basic needs of the sectors in dispute, confusing and sometimes prolonging the solution of the tensions by the liquid.

Claims for shortages, prices and rates, occupy a fifth position with 4.8%, here it is important to highlight that large cities such as Córdoba and Orizaba lack water meters, charging by rate and not by amount of water consumed, having strong resistance of the general public and the commercial sector against the meters for water consumption.

This situation has not been resolved due to various factors related to the inefficiency of the distribution systems and the waste of water due to the poor state of the infrastructure, aggravating the relationship between the drinking water systems and the users. In sixth place with 4.4% are the claims for the deterioration of ecosystems and pollution that reflect the actual environmental demands. The variable of prices and tariffs is not representative in isolation, because the quotas in general are low cost but related to other demands is a common reason in disputes over water. Finally, we have the last three demands, all of them related to the protection of aquifers and ecosystems, occupying altogether about 10% compared to the previous requests. This data can be an important indicator of the scarce relationship that mobilizations around water establish with natural water-producing systems and how environmental demands continue to occupy a secondary place in the reasons that lead to mobilization for access to water.

The analysis of the demands leads us to corroborate that traditional demands for access to water and social and political control continue to occupy a place of first order. Esta situación corresponde a una reacción clara de los diversos usuarios por al control y acceso al agua y las desigualdades existentes en su distribución, así como a la escaza eficiencia distributiva de los sistemas de agua potable en las principales ciudades donde los organismos del agua reportan un desperdicio de casi el 40% de sus líneas de captación y distribución.

Mientras tanto, las demandas de tipo socio-ambiental recobran importancia, ya que el número de casos registrados casi se equipara con las demandas socio-económicas. Esto indica que las protestas por los daños ambientales, riesgos tecnológicos y efectos a la salud son percibidas por la población como una posible amenaza para la salud pública y daños al medio ambiente, implicando un cambio importante en la interiorización de valores relacionados con la calidad de vida, cuidado y conservación ambiental. No obstante, es necesario advertir que las demandas socio-ambientales pueden configurar un movimiento inusitado de activismo social y protesta pública y desvanecerse al cumplirse las metas más apremiantes frecuentemente de tipo socio-económico y aplazar las demandas ambientales inmersas dentro del conflicto. Esto también se debe al carácter de los sectores movilizados y la falta de vínculos orgánicos con las organizaciones ambientalistas que pudieran generar expectativas de mediano y largo plazo en la movilización social.

En posible argumentar que son las demandas socioeconómicas las que ocupan el grueso de las disputas en torno al agua, le siguen aquellas de carácter socio-ambiental y en tercer término las demandas ambientales, por lo que, es posible argumentar que los valores ambientales siguen subordinados a las externalidades urbano-industriales y las organizaciones ambientalistas aún no se constituyen en una fuerza representativa que oriente las demandas ambientales.

Las demandas ambientales como tales no ocupan un lugar destacado en los conflictos por el agua a pesar de la fuerte problemática de contaminación y deterioro de ecosistemas que permiten la escasez de agua potable en un contexto de abundancia hídrica. Las demandas socio-ambientales y ambientales en conjunto, de cualquier manera ocupan un lugar destacado en las disputas regionales por lo que podemos argumentar que cada vez tienden a ser más importantes y los valores ambientales más significativos en las tensiones regionales por el agua.

Filiacion de los protagonistas

Para el analisis de los protagonistas inmersos en la movilizacion por los recursos hidricos, se agruparon los datos considerando la participacion de los tres niveles de gobierno: gobierno federal (Gf), gobierno estatal (Ge) y gobierno local (Gl) o municipal; por otra parte, la sociedad civil, las organizaciones corporativas y organizaciones independientes u ONG’s.

Así, pudimos corroborar que la mayor parte de los conflcitos se suscitan en la confrontación local, al intervenir los agentes ligados al municipio a traves de sus organismos del agua, este hecho tal vez ocurre a consecuencia del proceso de municipalizacion, despues del 2002, con las reformas de la ley del agua en el estado.

La sociedad civil es el otro agente en las controversias, se manifiestan agrupados en colonias, comunidades campesinas y grupos diversos afectados por externalidades o peticionarios de servicios de agua, organizaciones corporativas y Ong’s., dando una dimensión local a la solucion y mediación de las demandas por el líquido. Este hecho puede ser una consecuencia de la predominancia de los conflictos vitales por el acceso al agua y las soluciones locales que requieren; en segundo termino, localizamos la intervención del gobierno federal, a traves de las secretarías de estado, la intervención de la Comision Nacional del Agua (CNA), la SEMARNAP, la PROFEPA y la SSA sobre todo en aquellos conflictos relacionados con la contaminación a cuerpos de agua y la fuerte movilidad que esto representa, son indicadores de la intervención del nivel federal, incluso con mayor frecuencia que el gobierno estatal. En tercer lugar, se encuentra la intervención de las secretarías de estado del gobierno estatal que incluyen a las organizaciones paralelas sobre el manejo del agua y control de la contaminación como son; la Comisión de Agua del Estado de Veracruz (CAEV), SEDARPA y SEDERE, Secretaría de Protección Civil, entre las principales. Es necesario, señalar que las dependencias estatales regularmente aparecen cuando los conflictos ya se han manifestado abiertamente y las dependencias federales han intervenido para mediar o controlar las inconformidades sin mucho éxito, resultando en una constante falta de coordinación y criterios establecidos para la mediación y resoluión de los conflictos.

En cuarto lugar, tenemos la intervención directa del ejecutivo estatal, esta variable es interesante en la medida que la intervención de la máxima autoridad del estado se refleja cuando las disputas rebasan el nivel ordinario de negociación y las tensiones tienden a convertirse en irreconciliables o se endurecen entre las partes en disputa.

Este es el caso de los principales conflictos regionales como: la oposición del acueducto Nogales-Córdoba-Orizaba, la contaminación de la alcoholera Zapopan, la contaminación del FIRIOB, y el conflicto de la Sierra del Gallego por la distibución del agua entre 21 comunidades campesinas.

La participación de las organizaciones no gubernamentales en las disputas por el agua aún no es representativa en sí mísma ya que no se oponen abiertamente a un agente en especial, sino a procesos amplios de destrucción de recursos y deterioro de hidrosistemas, como es el caso de Renace, y Amigos y Vecinos de Metlac, la Condepico (Comisión Nacional del Pico de Orizaba), o los grupos que forman las comisiones intermunicipales de medio ambiente, muchas de sus acciones son de tipo declarativo, influyen en la opinión pública y sus actos son orientados a la capacitación y formación de cuadros.

Un elemento importante que no fue posible reflejar en la filiación es el papel de la iniciativa privada y las empresas contaminantes que se contituyen en el principal oponente en los conflictos socio-ambientales y ambientales de los que hemos hablado con anterioridad.

Asimismo, es importante destacar el papel marginal de las organizaciones corporativas o partidistas en los conflictos actuales por el agua. Es mas frecuente localizar la intromisión de partidos políticos en los conflictos socio-economicos pero, de acuerdo a las notas revisadas, existe un rechazo generalizado por su intervención como reflejo del desprestigio y las prácticas fraudulentas que han desplegado por largo tiempo de liderazgo corporativo en los grupos populares y comunidades campesinas. También, se nota la ausencia de estas organizaciones en las demandas socio-ambientales y ambientales al carecer de plataformas que reivindiquen los valores ambientales y la complejidad de intereses que se entretejen en este tipo de conflictos.

Ciclo del conflicto

Situación de solución de los conflictos

Es interesante observar que la mayoría de los conflictos, equivalente al 24% de casos registrados en el periodo, se encontraban en calidad de latentes, es decir ya habían estallado tiempo atrás y se encontraban sin solución. En segundo término con un porcentaje de 19%, aparecen los conflictos potenciales que son aquellos que aún no estallaban pero muestran un nivel importante de tensión social. El siguiente indicador refleja que el 17% de los conflictos se encuentran en estado latente y manifiesto, implicando que estan activos y sin solución al momento del registro.

En contraste, aquellas disputas que habían sido resueltas representaban 10% de todos los casos indicando la insuficiente capacidad de los oponentes, principalmente autoridades gubernamentales y empresas, para solucionar las controversias (Ilustración #6), además la “resolución” de conflictos ha implicado en buena medida el despliegue de mecanismos de fuerza pública para su control y manejo siendo los casos más representativos en este periodo: el acueducto Nogales-Córdoba-Orizaba y la alcoholera Zapopan, donde el gobierno estatal requirió la intervención judicial para controlar las manifestaciones públicas. Los demás datos indican algún grado de latencia del conflicto en los diversos municipios.

Repertorio de acción colectiva de los oponentes

De acuerdo a las fuentes analizadas, las principales acciones de presión política son aquellas relacionadas con la declaración pública en prensa, radio y televisión, así como la difusión de la problemática, ocupando un alto porcentaje equivalente a 42%. En segundo lugar, aparecen las manifestaciones pacificas como marchas y mítines, así como la difusión pública de la problemática que ocupan el 14% del tipo de acciones. En tercer término, se encuentran las declaraciones públicas a través de los medios de difusión principalmente prensa y radio, pero incluyen la demanda legal como mecanismo de lucha en un porcentaje de 11%. En ese mismo orden se presentan aquellas manifestaciones públicas que incluyen medidas de mayor presión social como son la toma de instalaciones en una proporción de 9%. Asimismo, tenemos enseguida las acciones que incluyen bloqueo de carreteras y calles para ejercer presión política. En el mismo orden y porcentaje se encuentra la intervención de partidos políticos en diversas movilizaciones reforzando el comentario anterior de que su nivel de involucramiento es distante de la conflictividad, y su intervención en la mayoría de ocasiones, se hace desde el poder legislativo donde están obligados a intervenir en el momento que el conflicto alcanza niveles críticos para su control (Ilustración #7). Los últimos niveles se relacionan con medidas más extremas de protesta que incluyen la destrucción de infraestructura, bloqueo de calles o carreteras y toma de instalaciones principalmente. El análisis del repertorio de acción colectiva revela que las movilizaciones se presentan de manera gradual optando por medidas pacificas: la demanda legal, la difusión de la problemática hasta el incremento paulatino de medidas de presión que pueden llegar a la violencia y la confrontación política. Estos resultados sugieren la necesidad de considerar la movilización social como una oportunidad política para la solución de los problemas antes que considerarlas como actos violentos, de rechazo y oposicionismo. Asimismo, muestran la urgencia de formular un marco normativo propicio para la resolución y manejo de conflictos y la intervención adecuada de las instituciones gubernamentales sobre todo aquellas relacionadas con el agua, la contaminación y el deterioro de ecosistemas.

En general, es necesario agregar que la acción colectiva se genera en la práctica pero se fortalece con el reconocimiento del problema: surge de una reacción a un problema, un riesgo o un daño y va recobrando sentido y significación en la medida que la población se va informando, reconoce a fondo el problema y es asesorado por expertos en la materia constituyéndose el objetivo de la demanda.

Los motivos socio-ambientales requieren, en este sentido, mayor elaboración cognitiva para sustentar la objetividad de la demanda. La asesoría de expertos, a simple vista, es una acción sin regularidad, ya que no es notoria la asesoría sistemática y abierta de las ONG’s o grupos ambientalistas, sin una vinculación orgánica dentro de las movilizaciones socio-ambientales.

En ocasiones, la asesoría de expertos dentro de las instituciones es importante, pues generan la información sin involucrarse directamente en la movilización, pero proporcionan información que los activistas hacen suya y se convierten en motivo de acción colectiva.

También el oposicionismo partidario es otra fuente de controversias pues las regidurías o integrantes de las comisiones de ecología pertenecen generalmente a partidos distintos del partido en el poder municipal, estos agentes actúan proporcionando información o motivando la demanda pública para ejercer presión sobre el partido gobernante en turno. El caso más típico lo encontramos en Fortín, Córdoba e Ixtaczoquitlan donde las regidurías también eran encargadas de las direcciones de ecología (PRD o PAN) y jugaron un papel importante proporcionando información y gestión de la oposición en algunos conflicto con demandas ambientales.

Este juego político de los partidos proporciona elementos para el activismo social pero también hace tomar distancia a los grupos movilizados que frecuentemente niegan su filiación y adscripción a un partido político, sobre todo en los movimientos socio-ambientales o ambientales, aún cuando participan activamente agentes con filiación partidista. En el contexto de la movilización, los diversos agentes involucrados deben presentarse sin intereses partidistas para evitar sospechas de intromisión y manipulación de la acción ciudadana. En este sentido se trasciende el carácter corporativo que antaño caracterizaba la movilización popular.

José Cruz Agüero Rodríguez – Maestro de la carrera de Sociología de la Universidad Veracruzana, Sistema de Enseñanza Abierta. Doctor en Estudios Urbanos y Ambientales del COLMEX.A.C. Ponencia presentada en el Primer Congreso Internacional de Ciencias Sociales en el sureste mexicana. Universidad del Caribe, Comecso. (isbn 978-607-95109-0-9)


• Arrojo Pedro (2006), El Reto de la Nueva Cultura del Agua. Funciones, Valores y Derechos en Juego. Paidos, Estado y Sociedad, 139. Barcelona, España.

• Ávila, Patricia (2002), Cambio Global y recursos hídricos en México. Hidropolítica y conflictos contemporáneos por el agua. CNA. (versión digitalizada CNA)

• Barlow, Maude y Tony Clarke (2002), Oro azul. Las multinacionales y el robo organizado de agua en el mundo. Paidos. Barcelona.

• Beck, Ulrich (2002), La sociedad del riesgo Global. Siglo veintiuno de España Editores.

• Biswas Asit (2003), El Recurso Hídrico en México. Centro del tercer mundo para el manejo del agua. A.C.

• Borja, J. (1988), Local y Global la gestión de las ciudades en la era de la información. Taurus. Madrid.

• Brand Peter Whit Michel J. Thomas (2005), Urban Environmentalism. Global Change and the Mediation of Local Conflict Rutledge. London and New York

• Cirelli, Claudia (2004), Agua Desechada, Agua Aprovechada. Cultivando en los Márgenes de la Ciudad. Colección Investigaciones. El Colegio de San Luis. Mexico.

• Conapo (1985), Subsistema de ciudades: Xalapa, Veracruz, Córdoba-Orizaba.

• Gallardo Calva (1999), Acción Colectiva y Diplomacia Social. movimiento ambientalista frente al Tratado de Libre Comercio (Tesis).El Colegio de México C.E.S

• Gobierno del estado de Veracruz (1979), Plan de desarrollo urbano. Córdoba, Fortín, Huiloapan, Ixtaczoquitlan, Mendoza, Nogales, Orizaba, Río Blanco.

• Gobierno del Estado de Veracruz (1999), Programa de desarrollo regional de las Grandes Montañas. 1999-2004 (versión digital)

• Melucci, Alberto (1999), Acción colectiva, vida cotidiana y democracia, El Colegio de México, México,

• Moreno Vázquez J. L. (2006), Por Abajo del Agua. Sobreexplotación y Agotamiento del Acuífero de la Costa de Hermosillo, 1945-2005. El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.507pp.

• Tarrow Sydney (1977), El poder en movimiento. Los movimientos sociales, la acción colectiva y la política. Alianza Editorial. Madrid.

• El Sol de Orizaba, 2001-2006

• El Mundo de Córdoba, 2000-2006

• UNESCO ( Consejo Mundial del Agua (

Video: Llorona en Córdoba, Veracruz. (May 2021).