Police fired tear gas on indigenous protesters in Quito yesterday as they demonstrated against a new law that they claim will restrict communities’ water supplies. The law, Ley de Recursos Hídricos, would create a “Central Water Authority” (Autoridad Única del Agua (AUA), which would be presided over by a cabinet-level presidential appointee and would oversee Ecuador’s national water distribution.
The law’s proponents say it would “decentralize and better regulate” Ecuador’s freshwater supply systems. Protesters, led by the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de Ecuador (CONAIE), say it would allow private companies to “divert water that local people have depended on for generations.”
As many as 1,500 protesters gathered in front of Congress today where the bill was being debated; according to the Red Cross, one demonstrator was injured.