The water company denounces three activists for an action performed last February, thus trying to slow down the fight for the right to basic supplies.
Barcelona, May 7th 2018
From the APE (Aliança contra la Pobresa Energètica) we have worked since we were born to stop the supply cuts in Catalonia and have confronted the large multinationals of water, electricity and gas to demand the protection of such essential rights as the access to water and energy. We have achieved jointly with the PAH (Plataforma d'Afectats per la Hipoteca) and the ODESC (Observatori de Drets Econòmics Socials i Culturals), as well as with the support of many other entities and groups, to promote a law that has stopped more than 40,000 supply cuts in Catalonia and we have located the supply companies at the center of the problem, pointing to these companies with multimillionaire benefits, as responsible for a scourge that affects more than 10% of the population in Catalonia.
As of today, Aigües de Barcelona (Agbar-Suez Group) has decided to bring to trial three APE activists for a complaint action that took place at its commercial offices in Barcelona on February 27th. With this action, Agbar demonstrates to go against those who defend the rights of citizens and choose the path of repression against organized civil society.
The company pursues the APE legally for an action framed within the campaign of debt relief to families in situations of vulnerability (more information here). This began in July 2017 and claimed the total forgiveness of debts of unpaid water bills incurred in situations of vulnerability and to which families could not cope with. In some cases, the amounts exceeded €1,000 and Aigües de Barcelona, instead of responding to the request for debt relief submitted by the people affected, AGBAR used to make periodic reminders about their non-payment. This fact led the APE to carry out a public complaint action to find a solution to the anguish that was generating the accumulation of these debts to families. That day, the representatives of the company, among them their Client Director Núria Latorre, assured us that the APE's demands were impossible to fulfill.
Ten days later, some of the affected people who requested the remission, as well as thousands of families in Barcelona and other municipalities in the area, received a letter from Aigües de Barcelona that confirmed the remission of most of their debt. As an example, there were debts of more than €1,000 reduced to €98 (more information here).
From APE we are very clear that it was the action of February 27th the cause of these debts forgiveness, which reflects that our demands were not only legitimate but possible and It was just the company's unwillingness to find a true solution for these families. The APE has once again demonstrated the importance of the citizen organization and the conquest of fundamental rights through actions of denouncing and peaceful disobedience. In response, despite having accepted part of our demands, Agbar has chosen the path of judicial repression and punishment to spread fear among activists and those affected who cannot afford the most basic services.
The criminalizing attitude of the company against APE is proved that is not only a personal accusation. Even though judicial decree only included one person in the accusation, AGBAR asked the court to sue two more activists. Among the proposed activists to be sued by Agbar, there is the spokeswoman for the movement Maria Campuzano, thus seeking a greater impact on the group and wanting to demonstrate their dominant position. It is outrageous to see how Agbar, who has the incomprehensible privilege of managing water in a city like Barcelona, has spent millions of euros in the last months in an advertising campaign for image washing and in judicial processes to try to curb the civil society that is organized to defend their rights.
From APE we want to make public that Agbar's repressive drift will not change our way of fighting for the rights of citizens and families in situations of vulnerability in order to guarantee access to basic supplies. For this reason, from today and until the day of the trial, scheduled for May 16th, we initiate a campaign of public dissemination of the case for everyone to be clear in what really is the "responsible management" of Aigües de Barcelona. Several entities and groups with which the APE has been collaborating since its inception share the indignation for the belligerent attitude of the company against the defense of fundamental rights by signing this statement and supporting the campaign that today switched on.
The defense of fundamental rights and the right of the citizens to fight for what they consider, not just fair, but of a prevailing need, can never be at the mercy of what is best for large companies to continue expanding their profits. The right to basic supplies is not under negotiation, nor does our work will stop in front of criminalization of the protest. We are not afraid of the repressive strategy of Agbar and the rights of all of us should not be prosecuted. We will continue to fight with the rest of the entities and groups that accompany us, as we have always done, to end the abuses of the big supply companies and to reach a country WITHOUT THIRST, COLD, NOR DARKNESS!
Assemblea Nacional Catalana
Associació Benestar i Desenvolupament – ABD
Catalunya No als Tractats de Comerç i Inversions
Coordinadora d’Aturats/es de Catalunya
Ecologistes en Acció
Energia Gara Nafarroa
Enginyeria sense Fronteres – ESF
Federació d’Associacions de Veïns i Veïnes de Barcelona – FAVB
Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya – IDHC
Observatori de Drets Econòmics Socials i Culturals – ODESC
Observatori del Deute en la Globalització – ODG
Plataforma de Afectados Por La Hipoteca
Plataforma d’Afectats per la Hipoteca Barcelona
Plataforma Aigua és vida
Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético
Red agua publica
Sindicat de Llogaters
Stop Mare Mortum
Tanquem els CIES
Xarxa per la sobirania energètica – Xse
European Water Movement
Fuel Poverty Action – UK
Global Justice Now – UK
Romania Without Them Association – Romania
Transnational Institute – Belgium
Switched On London – UK
Platform – UK
Movimiento Afectadas por las Represas – MAB