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Privatization of Water and Energy by Union Fenosa, Colombia


Description:

Unión Fenosa established its activity in Colombia in 2000, when it opened negotiations for buying shares in two Caribbean companies, Electricosta y Electricaribe, and for controlling the Empresa de Energía del Pacífico, S.A. (EPSA). After acquiring over 70 percent of the State company Electrocaribe, 70 percent of the State company Electrocosta and 64 percent of State company EPSA, the Spanish multinational Union Fenosa controls the water and energy services along the Atlantic coast of Colombia and in the Valle del Cauca region. Local communities accuse Union Fenosa, and its subsidiaries, of interrupting power supply, of arbitrarily removing built infrastructure managed by local residents and of indiscriminately increasing water and energy prices. Local residents demand that water and energy services return to State control, and have launched protest rallies to denounce the situation.

In 2004, Ecologistas en Acción together with CENSAT Agua Viva published the report  “SEGUIMIENTO SOCIAL EN EL CARIBE COLOMBIANO A LA CORPORACIÓN UNIÓN FENOSA” where they denounce murders of trade unionists and anti-privatization activists. The report declares"Los grupos paramilitares asesinaron inicialmente al vicepresidente de la Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, CUT, y dirigente del Sindicato de Trabajadores Eléctricos, Sintraelecol Seccional Bolívar, Jorge Ortega. También cayeron dirigentes sociales en Barranquilla, un abogado de la empresa que investigaba todos los fraudes ocurridos durante la privatización, es decir, el soborno a políticos durante la intervención de la empresa y los contratos dañinos que asumió el Estado Colombiano en la privatización, en total son 27 dirigentes sociales que han sido asesinados dentro del proceso de privatización del sector eléctrico en la Costa Caribe."  An open letter was also sent in December 2004 to the company, which stated “Pedimos a Unión FENOSA que esclarezca las acusaciones hechas por su papel en la privatización  del sector eléctrico en la costa caribeña de Colombia” [2].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Privatization of Water and Energy by Union Fenosa, Colombia
Country:Colombia
State or province:Valle del Cauca (except for the city of Cali) and all the Atlantic coast
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Other
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Water
Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The business of generating, transmitting, distributing and selling electricity in Colombia moves approximately $1.6 billion dollars a year, an approximate equivalent to 2% of the GDP generated during 2004. There are 1,396,330 clients on the Atlantic Coast , distributed in an area of ​​132,239 square kilometers, there live, in 186 municipalities, 9,145,143 people, equivalent to approximately 20% of the Colombian population. In 2005, 9,442 Gwh were distributed in this area, corresponding to approximately 20% of the electricity supply in 2004, according to the report of the Ministry of Mines and Energy43. [1]

The implementation of 8 hydroelectric power plants that would generate 65% of the regional energy. The company would install 400 buildings and small hydrolectric plants.

Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:2000
Company names or state enterprises:Electricaribe from Colombia - local subsidiary (Colombia)
Electrocosta from Colombia - local subsidiary (Colombia)
EPSA from Colombia - Local subsidiary (Colombia)
Caixanova Bank from Spain
Gas Natural Fenosa from Spain
Union Fenosa from Spain - En noviembre del 2000 se efectuaron las transacciones respectivas y Unión Fenosa tomó el control del 70% de las empresas caribeñas. En los siguientes años hubo varias inyecciones de capital, de modo que la participación de Unión Fenosa en las empresas caribeñas se ha incrementado a 70,87% en Electricaribe y 70,44% en Electrocosta y es propietaria del 64% de las acciones de EPSA
Relevant government actors:Defensora del pueblo , Permanent Peoples' Tribunal
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT) - Colombia, SINTRAELECOL - Colombia, Local residents of the Atlantic and Pacific Coast of Colombia, CENSAT AGUA VIVA, COMISION INTERECLESIAL DE JUSTICIA Y PAZ

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
The case of Union Fenosa and the violation of human rights and labour rights was presented at Permanent People's Tribunal sessions

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:They want their river cleaned, and to have fair access to water and energy again.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although the Permanent Peoples tribunal recommended the Union Fenosa Company to retire from Colombia, the company continues to cause social and environmental impacts that have created heated opposition since beginning its operations.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Decree 3735 for the national energy supply

Development Plan of Uribe Government

Law 142 and 143 of 1994 on Public Utility Services in Colombia

Resolution 120 of September 17, 200

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] UNION FENOSA EN CENTROAMÉRICA Y COLOMBIA
http://www.enlazandoalternativas.org/IMG/pdf/elect1fullsp.pdf

[2] Carta Abierta a Union Fenosa
http://justiciaypazcolombia.com/Frente-a-FENOSA-en-defensa-del

IIRSA y la Ecologa Poltica del Agua Sudamericana, Delgado GianCarlo, EcoPortal, 27/07/2014
http://www.ecoportal.net/Temas-Especiales/Agua/IIRSA_y_la_Ecologia_Politica_del_Agua_Sudamericana

Blue Planet Project - ACAPARAMIENTO DEL AGUA Y DESPOJO DE LA TIERRA EN EL ALTO CAUCA:

Estudio crítico sobre (in)justicia hídrica y derecho al agua en Colombia - por Irene Vélez Torres y Hildebrando Vélez Galeano
http://canadians.org/sites/default/files/publications/RTW-Colombia-1.pdf

Unión Fenosa bajo el foco. Los impactos de la multinacional eléctrica en Colombia

OMAL - Paz con Dignidad (2007)
http://omal.info/spip.php?article735

TRIBUNAL PERMANENTE DE LOS PUEBLOS - Sentencia sobre LA UNIÓN EUROPEA Y LAS EMPRESAS TRANSNACIONALES EN AMÉRICA LATINA: POLÍTICAS, INSTRUMENTOS Y ACTORES CÓMPLICES DE LAS VIOLACIONES DE LOS DERECHOS DE LOS PUEBLOS - Madrid 2010
http://www.enlazandoalternativas.org/IMG/pdf/TPP-verdict_es.pdf

Rebellion. org - Unión Fenosa acusada de violar derechos humanos y cortar la luz a más de 100 comunidades en Colombia
http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=8781

TNI - Tratados de libre comercio y conflicto en Colombia
https://www.tni.org/es/art%C3%ADculo/tratados-de-libre-comercio-y-conflicto-en-colombia

Los estragos de Fenosa en el Cauca
https://javiersule.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/los-estragos-de-union-fenosa-en-el-cauca/

Meta information

Contributor:Lucie Greyl and Daniela Del Bene
Last update18/02/2016
Conflict ID:521

Images

 

Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos (TPP) en Managua, Nicaragua

Source: http://www.ecoportal.net/Temas-Especiales/Derechos-Humanos/Tribunal_Permanente_de_los_Pueblos_-_El_Juicio_contra_Union_Fenosa