Water safe from privatization for now

Originally published on the CISPES blog

With the ink barely dry on the State Department’s commitments to work with the incoming administration of Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the leftist Farabundo Martí Liberation Front (FMLN), US Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte continues her crusade for privatization policy, intervening in El Salvador’s legislative affairs to promote corporate interests. Aponte has taken up lobbying efforts to urge the Legislative Assembly to approve reforms to the US-backed Public-Private Partnership (P3) Law, conditioning US development aid on the passage of the reforms package. The Ambassador insists the reforms are necessary to invest the pending $277 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funds, claiming El Salvador’s investment conditions “are not totally mature yet.”

 

The P3 Law, which was originally drafted with US government advisors, opens up public projects to private concessions. The proposed reforms would reverse several elements that FMLN legislators had managed to include in the final bill to ensure it did not trigger a privatization free-for-all of essential public services. Presented by legislators from the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party last December, the reforms are based on a proposal by the National Council for Growth, a body created by the US-El Salvador bilateral economic agreement, the Partnership for Growth, that joins government representatives with the country’s wealthiest businessmen.

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