Venezuela in Crisis

A woman with her face painted in the colors of Venezuela’s national flag takes part in the blockade of a highway in Caracas on April 24, 2017. (Photo: Fernando Llano/ AP); Background image: A demonstrator against President Nicolas Maduro’s government during a protest on the east side of Caracas on April 19, 2017. (Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty)

Introduction
Venezuela is in the midst of an unprecedented economic and political crisis marked by severe food and medicine shortages, soaring crime rates, and an increasingly authoritarian executive. Critics of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, say Venezuela’s economic woes are the fruit of years of economic mismanagement; Maduro’s supporters blame falling oil prices and the country’s “corrupt” business elites.

In January 2016, opposition lawmakers took a majority in the legislature—the National Assembly—for the first time in nearly two decades. However, the Maduro government has taken steps since to consolidate his power, including usurping some of the legislature’s powers. Maduro’s actions have been met with massive protests and international condemnation, including threats of expulsion from the Organization of American States.

I. Chavez’s ‘Bolivarian Revolution’

Chavez, a former military officer who launched an ill-fated coup in 1992, was elected president of Venezuela in 1998 on a populist platform. As a candidate, he railed against the country’s elites for widespread corruption, and pledged to use Venezuela’s vast oil wealth to reduce poverty and inequality. During his presidency, which lasted until his death in 2013, Chavez expropriated millions of acres of land and nationalized hundreds of private businesses and foreign-owned assets, including oil projects run by ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.

Chavez, whose rhetoric often drew inspiration from Simon Bolivar, the Venezuela-born revolutionary of the nineteenth century, aimed to align Latin American countries against the United States. He led the formation of ALBA, a bloc of socialist and leftist Latin American governments, and established the Petrocaribe alliance, in which Venezuela agreed to export petroleum at discounted rates to eighteen Central American and Caribbean states.

Chavez also greatly expanded the powers of the presidency. Shortly after he took office, voters approved a new constitution that allowed him to run for another term, removed one chamber of Congress, and reduced civilian control over the military. In 2004, two years after he was briefly removed from office in a coup, Chavez effectively took control of the Supreme Court by expanding its size and appointing twelve justices. In 2009, he led a successful referendum ending presidential term limits.

Chavez remained popular among the country’s poor throughout his presidency, expanding social services including food and housing subsidies, health care, and educational programs. The country’s poverty rate fell from roughly 50 percent in 1998, the year before he was elected, to 30 percent in 2012, the year before his death.

Maduro, who narrowly won the presidency in 2013, pledged to continue his former boss’s socialist revolution. “I am ensuring the legacy of my commander, Chavez, the eternal father,” he said after the vote.

In Pictures – Crisis in Venezuela
Click on images to enlarge and read caption.

II. An Oil-Based Economy
Venezuela is highly vulnerable to external shocks due to its heavy dependence on oil revenues. Oil accounts for about 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings and 25 percent of its GDP, according to figures from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The state-run petroleum company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), controls all the country’s oil exploration, production, and exportation. Critics say PDVSA is grossly mismanaged and suffers from cronyism, a bloated payroll, underinvestment in infrastructure, and a lack of budgetary oversight.

As global oil prices fell from $111 per barrel in 2014 to a low of $27 per barrel in 2016, Venezuela’s already shaky economy went into free fall. That year, GDP dropped 12 percent while inflation soared to 800 percent. By early 2017, the country owed $140 billion to foreign creditors while it held only $10 billion in reserves, raising fears of a default.

Many critics fault the Chavez government for squandering years of record oil income. “Chavez did not use the massive oil price boom between 2004 and 2013 to put money aside for a rainy day,” wrote Harvard University economist Ricardo Hausmann in 2016. Instead, he “used the boom to expropriate large swaths of the economy, impose draconian foreign currency and price controls, and to subsidize imports. All this weakened the economy and made the country more dependent on imports, which Venezuelans can no longer afford.”

III. Price Controls and Shortages
Venezuela’s economic crisis is marked by soaring inflation and shortages of food, medical supplies, and staples like toilet paper and soap. Experts say the government’s strict price controls, which were meant to keep basic goods affordable for the country’s poor, are partly to blame. Many manufacturers in the country cut production because of the limits on what they could charge for their goods.

Another policy contributing to the country’s economic problems, many experts say, are currency controls, which were first introduced by Chavez in 2003 to curb capital flight. By selling U.S. dollars at different rates, the government effectively created a black market and increased opportunities for corruption. For instance, a business that is authorized to buy dollars at preferential rates in order to purchase priority goods like food or medicine could instead sell those dollars for a significant profit to third parties. In April 2017, the official exchange rate was ten bolivars to the dollar, while the black market rate was more than four thousand bolivars to the dollar.

Imports reportedly fell to $18 billion in 2016, down from $66 billion in 2012, as foreign-made goods became increasingly expensive. Many consumers are faced with the choice of waiting for hours in line for basic goods or paying exorbitant prices to so-called bachaqueros, or black market traffickers.

Experts say widespread expropriations have further diminished productivity. Transparency International, which ranks Venezuela 166 out of 176 on its perceived corruption index, reports that the government controls more than five hundred companies, most of which are operating at a loss. (By comparison, Brazil, which is more than six times as populous as Venezuela, has 130 state-run companies.)

IV. A Humanitarian Crisis

Observers have characterized the situation in Venezuela as a humanitarian crisis. In 2016, the head of the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation estimated that 85 percent of basic medicines were unavailable or difficult to obtain. Hospitals reportedly lack supplies like antibiotics, gauze, and soap. Infant mortality rates reportedly reached 18.1 per 1,000 live births in early 2016, up from 11.6 in 2011, while maternal mortality reached 130 per 100,000, more than twice the 2008 rate. Diseases like diphtheria and malaria, which had been previously eliminated from the country, have reemerged.

Poverty has also spiked. In 2016, a local university study found that more than 87 percent of the population said it did not have enough money to buy necessary food. Another study by a local nutrition organization found that 30 percent of school-aged children were malnourished. According to a 2016 report from Human Rights Watch, the Maduro administration “has vehemently denied the extent of the need for help and has blocked an effort by the opposition-led National Assembly to seek international assistance.”

Poverty and lack of opportunity are exacerbating Venezuela’s high rates of violence. Long one of the world’s most violent countries, in 2016 Venezuela experienced its highest-ever number of homicides: 28,479, or roughly 91.8 homicides per 100,000 residents, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, an independent monitoring group. (The U.S. rate, by comparison, is 5 per 100,000.) Maduro’s administration has deployed the military to combat street crime, but rights groups and foreign media have reported widespread abuses, including extrajudicial killings.

The humanitarian crisis has spilled across Venezuela’s borders, with thousands of desperate people crossing into neighboring Brazil and Colombia; others have left by boat to the nearby island of Curaçao. By some estimates, as many as 150,000 Venezuelans left the country in 2016 alone.

V. Political Turmoil

Amid the crisis, the Maduro administration has become increasingly autocratic. Opposition lawmakers, under the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition, won a majority in the National Assembly in 2015 for the first time in sixteen years, but Maduro has taken several steps to undermine them. In September 2016, Venezuela’s electoral authority, which is considered loyal to Maduro, ordered the opposition to suspend a campaign to recall the president, sparking protests and international condemnation. The following month, the Supreme Court stripped the National Assembly of powers to oversee the economy and annulled a law that would have freed eighty political prisoners, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. The president and the opposition subsequently entered into Vatican-brokered reconciliation talks, but those were declared “frozen” in November after Maduro administration officials stopped attending meetings. Maduro said he plans to stay in office until his term ends in 2019.

In March 2017, the judicial branch briefly dissolved the National Assembly. The court revised its order days later following an international outcry, but kept the legislature in contempt, effectively preventing lawmakers from passing laws. A week later the government barred opposition politician Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost to Maduro in the 2013 presidential election, from running for office for fifteen years, citing Capriles’s failure to secure proper approval for budgets and contracts.

Government security forces have attacked journalists, and several foreign reporters have been detained and, in some cases, expelled, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 2017, Freedom House rated Venezuela as “not free,” making it one of two countries in the Western Hemisphere, along with Cuba, with the democracy watchdog’s lowest ranking.

VI. The Region Reacts
Mercosur, an economic and political bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela, suspended Venezuela in 2016. In March 2017, the secretary-general of the Organization of the American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, recommended suspending Venezuela from the bloc unless the Maduro administration moved quickly to hold elections. The last time OAS suspended a member country was 2009, when it did so to Honduras following a military coup.

U.S. policy under Donald J. Trump appears to follow that of former President Barack Obama, writes CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Matthew Taylor. In February 2017, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Vice President Tareck El Aissami for his alleged involvement in international drug trafficking. Later that month Trump met with Lilian Tintori, the wife of Leopoldo Lopez, and called for his release. In April 2017, as protests continued in Caracas, the U.S. State Department issued a statement voicing concern over government actions against Capriles and demonstrators.

On May 19, The Trump administration sanctioned eight members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, including the court’s president, Maikel Moreno, the U.S. Treasury Department announced. U.S. officials said the sanctions were a direct response to an incident in March in which the Supreme Court annulled the nation’s democratically elected National Assembly, which is controlled by Venezuela’s opposition party. At the time, the Supreme Court, which remains loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, justified the takeover by claiming that the National Assembly was in contempt of its rulings. The court ultimately sought to authorize Maduro’s oil joint ventures by bypassing congressional approval. Despite tensions between Washington and Caracas, the United States remains Venezuela’s largest trading partner.

Meanwhile, the Maduro administration retains the support of allies in Bolivia, Ecuador, and several Caribbean nations. China has lent Venezuela more than $60 billion since 2001, and is the South American country’s largest creditor. Meanwhile, Venezuela has sought significant ties with Russia. Before oil prices fell in 2014, Venezuela was set to become the largest importer of Russian military equipment by 2025. In February 2017, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reaffirmed Moscow’s support for the Maduro government, saying bilateral relations “are on the rise.”

Reprint (w/ relevant updates added by blogger): Venezuela in Crisis -By by Danielle Renwick and Brianna Lee | Council on Foreign Relations

Recommended…
✻​ Venezuela Is Falling Apart – By Moisés Naím & Francisco Toro | The Atlantic
✻​ Internal Splits, Immolations, and Burning Houses: Venezuela Gets Worse -By Emily Tamkin | Foreign Policy
✻​ Venezuela’s Crisis | Human Rights Watch
✻​ Thousands Protest Human Rights Crisis in Venezuela -By Tamara Taraciuk Broner | HRW
✻ ​Crisis Upon Crisis in Venezuela | New York Times Editorial Board
✻​ U.S. Sanctions Venezuela’s Supreme Court -By Aria Bendix | The Atlantic

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SCOTUS: Courthouse Doors Closed to Foreign Nationals Alleging Corporate Human Rights Abuses –By Nicole Flatow |ThinkProgress

Shell Accused of Human Rights AbusesWhat started out as a case about whether corporations could be held accountable in U.S. courts for human rights abuses against foreigners abroad turned into a case about whether anyone can be held accountable. And on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the answer is, mostly, no.

In a sweeping holding, Chief Justice John Roberts led a splintered court in ruling that several Nigerians alleging an oil company aided an abetted torture, arbitrary killings, and indefinite detention could not sue, because the corporate conduct occurred outside the United States. Roberts reasoned that what is known as the “presumption against extraterritoriality” applies to a 200-year-old statute that authorizes civil lawsuits by “aliens” for “violations of the law of nations,” meaning courts should err against enforcing a law intended to punish egregious foreign conduct in the frequent instances when that conduct takes place in a foreign country.

“[T]here is no indication that the ATS was passed to make the United States a uniquely hospitable forum for the enforcement of international norms,” Justice Roberts wrote for the majority in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.

Roberts’ conclusion is rebutted by the very conduct the Alien Tort Statute was designed to prevent. Piracy was one of the primary torts targeted by Congress at the time of ATS’ passage – conduct that inherently takes place on the high seas. Justice Stephen Breyer explains in a four-justice concurring opinion that would decide the case on significantly narrower grounds:

As I have indicated, we should treat this Nation’s interest in not becoming a safe harbor for violators of the most fundamental international norms as an important jurisdiction related interest justifying application of the ATS in light of the statute’s basic purposes—in particular that of compensating those who have suffered harm at the hands of, e.g., torturers or other modern pirates. Nothing in the statute or its history suggests that our courts should turn a blind eye to the plight of victims in that “handful of heinous actions.

Now, that handful of heinous actions will have to find remedy elsewhere. This decision not only means that Nigerians cannot sue foreign corporations for their conduct abroad. On this particular point, the four-justice Breyer concurrence agreed that this case did not pass muster. Roberts’ sweeping pronouncement against extraterritoriality may also mean that foreign nationals subject to abuse, for example, at the hands of a U.S. corporation that houses its factories in places whose laws shield it from liability, or an American citizen who commits human rights violations abroad against foreigners, also could not be subject to suit in the United States.

In two recent federal appeals court decisions, lawsuits that challenged torture abroad by two foreign actors were allowed to proceed in U.S. courts because the defendants had lived or were living in the United States. As Justice Breyer points out, Congress is aware that the ATS is the basis for these sorts of lawsuits, and has not sought to amend the act in any way – likely because they recognize that the act was intended to target foreign conduct that is otherwise difficult to reach. But that did not stop the Roberts majority from inferring the narrowest possible congressional intent.

The scope of the opinion will not become clear until it is interpreted by courts. Extraterritoriality is a legal concept that asks not just whether conduct took place abroad, but also whether the claims “touch and concern the territory of the United States” such that a plaintiff can overcome the presumption against them. The only hint the court gives is that lawsuits against corporations will face a particularly heavy burden, noting, “Corporations are often present in many countries, and it would reach too far to say that mere corporate presence suffices.”

What is clear is that the presumption is exceedingly difficult to overcome, and that both individuals and corporations have a high chance of skirting liability simply by doing their dirty work elsewhere.

Reprint: High Court Squelches Ability to Hold Anyone Accountable for Any Human Rights Violations Abroad  – By Nicole Flatow |ThinkProgress


Related: Kiobel v. Shell Test Corporate Personhood –By Katie Redford | HuffPost


Is Shell to Big to PunishMy Two Cents: All the justices agreed the statute was inapplicable to the case at bar but for different reasons. In doing so, the SCOTUS served a major blow to human rights organizations that have used the statute, at least in recent times, to hold multinational corporations (MNCs) accountable for human rights violations committed against foreign nationals in their country of origin. Justice Roberts could have dismissed the case on a number of procedural grounds or simply deferred the case back to the lower court. Instead the majority used the case to redefine the ATS so narrowly as to render it useless. Why, I ask, was necessary to throw out the baby with the bath water? In my opinion, this case was not about policing the world or opening American courts to every frivolous claim of abuse on the planet.  This case was about a MNC, with significant ties to the U.S., allegedly committing gross human rights on foreign soil against U.S. foreign nationals.  MNCs are now free to set up shop in a foreign country, collude with host countries’ government for precious resources and land rights, pollute the soil and water, poison the air and have those who protest too much (or too loudly) summarily disappeared or executed w/o fear of being sued or held accountable in any meaningful way!


Silver lining: The SCOTUS left open the possibility that it might review other cases that are filed under the statute so long as the new elements and jurisdictional prerequisites are met.

Environmental Activists “Being Killed at Rate of 1 a Week” -By Jonathan Watts| Mother Jones

Dilma Rousseff’s land-use law is protested in front of Planalto Palace. The poster reads: ‘Forestry Code – Veto, Dilma’ (Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters).

The struggle for the world’s remaining natural resources is becoming more murderous, according to a new report that reveals that environmental activists were killed at the rate of one a week in 2011.

The death toll of advocates, community leaders, and journalists involved in the protection of forests, rivers, and land has risen dramatically in the past three years, said Global Witness.

Brazil—the host of the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development—has the worst record for danger in a decade that has seen the deaths of more than 365 defenders, said the briefing, which was released on the eve of the high-level segment of the Earth Summit.

The group called on the leaders at Rio to set up systems to monitor and counter the rising violence, which in many cases involves governments and foreign corporations, and to reduce the consumption pressures that are driving development into remote areas.

“This trend points to the increasingly fierce global battle for resources, and represents the sharpest of wake-up calls for delegates in Rio,” said Billy Kyte, a campaigner at Global Witness.

The group acknowledges that its results are incomplete and skewed toward certain countries because information is fragmented and often missing. This means the toll is likely to be higher than their findings, which did not include deaths related to cross-border conflicts prompted by competition for natural resources, and fighting over gas and oil.

Brazil recorded almost half of the killings worldwide, the majority of which were connected to illegal forest clearance by loggers and farmers in the Amazon and other remote areas, often described as the “Wild West.”

Among the recent high-profile cases were the murders last year of two high-profile Amazon activists, José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo. Such are the risks that dozens of other activists and informers are now under state protection.

Unlike most countries on the list, however, the number of killings in Brazil declined slightly last year, perhaps because the government is making a greater effort to intervene in deforestation cases.

The reverse trend is apparent in the Philippines, where four activists were killed last month, prompting the Kalikasan People’s Network for Environment to talk of “bloody May.”

Though Brazil, Peru, and Colombia have reported high rates of killing in the past 10 years, this is partly because they are relatively transparent about the problem thanks to strong civil-society groups, media organizations, and church groups—notably the Catholic Land Commission in Brazil—which can monitor such crimes. Underreporting is thought likely in China and Central Asia, which have more closed systems, said the report. The full picture has still to emerge.

Last December, the UN special rapporteur on human rights noted: “Defenders working on land and environmental issues in connection with extractive industries and construction and development projects in the Americas…face the highest risk of death as result of their human rights activities.”

Reprint:  Environmental Activists “Being Killed at Rate of 1 a Week” -By Jonathan Watts| Mother Jones

South Sudan Civilians Caught in Conflict Over Oil -By Sudarsan Raghavan | The WashPost

Bentiu, South Sudan — Every few moments, Nyameat Nyak glances nervously at the sky. It’s been two weeks since Sudanese warplanes bombed her tea shop as she was serving five traders, pregnant with her sixth child. Shrapnel sliced through the walls, covering her in flesh and blood.

The men died. Her baby lived.

Since the attack, there have been more bombings, more deaths and a growing unease that this nation’s prized asset is becoming its biggest misfortune. “If we had no oil,” said Nyak, 27, seated outside her hut, “we would not be attacked.”

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese are trapped in a conflict over oil and territory between their newly independent country and their northern neighbor, Sudan. For the past three weeks, Sudanese warplanes have bombed the town of Bentiu, killing 15 civilians and injuring several dozen more, according to the United Nations.

From Angola to Chad, Nigeria to Equatorial Guinea, oil and other natural resources have been more bane than blessing, generating conflicts and corruption while millions of Africans languish in poverty. But many thought oil revenue would prevent another conflict here, with South Sudan dependent on Sudan’s pipelines and ports to export its crude.

But with each assault, and as both nations mass troops on their contested border 50 miles north of here, the countries are drawing closer toward a full-blown war, potentially destabilizing a region containing one of Africa’s most significant oil reserves.

“The oil is a curse,” Mohamed Abdurahman Kili, 56, mumbled from his hospital bed, his body covered with burns. He was inside his shop in a crowded market on the edge of town when a Sudanese warplane attacked, killing a 9-year-old child and another person, and setting his shop on fire.

Oil was a key incentive in the 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan’s 22-year civil war, Africa’s longest. With an estimated three-quarters of their combined reserves in South Sudan, both sides agreed to split the revenue equally.

Photo credit: Laris Karklis, WashPost

South Sudan reneged on paying Sudan hundreds of millions of dollars for using its pipelines, saying the fees were exorbitant. Sudan responded by seizing tankers carrying South Sudanese crude and imposed a blockade on the export of the oil. In February, South Sudan shut down its entire oil production, roughly 350,000 barrels a day.

Since then, oil talks have fallen apart. Sudan has bombed oil facilities inside South Sudan. South Sudan, in turn, took over the disputed town of Heglig, the site of Sudan’s largest oil field, last month. That prompted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to declare that he would “liberate” South Sudan. Two days later, yielding to international pressure, South Sudan withdrew from Heglig.

But that hasn’t silenced the rumblings of war. On Friday, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir returned from China, where he sought funds to build an alternative pipeline through Kenya or Djibouti, and declared Heglig and its oil part of South Sudan.

The forceful rhetoric has continued even as the economies of both countries are under immense pressure because of the oil shutdown. Both currencies are rapidly sinking in value, while fuel and food prices are soaring.

Excerpt, read: South Sudan Civilians Trapped in Conflict Over Oil -By Sudarsan Raghavan| The Washington Post

UN Confirms Massive Oil Pollution in Niger Delta | Amnesty International (Video)

The oil company Shell has had a disastrous impact on the human rights of the people living in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, said Amnesty International, responding to a UN report on the effects of oil pollution in Ogoniland in the Delta region.

The report from the United Nations Environment Programme is the first of its kind in Nigeria and based on two years of in-depth scientific research. It found that oil contamination is widespread and severe, and that people in the Niger Delta have been exposed for decades.

Oil, The Secret Pipeline: How Burmese Junta is Making €1 Billion a Year | France 24 (Video)

Oil – a billion euros a year. That’s the profit allegedly being made by the Burmese government, to the cost of the Burmese people. The ruling junta’s accused of secretly selling the country’s oil and natural gas reserves to China via clandestine pipelines. A local NGO says locals are being exploited in the project, which is adding to the fuel shortage that’s already taken hold in the capital, Rangoon.

The World’s Newest Country? Sudan’s Secession Vote – By Josh Kron | NYT

JUBA, Sudan — Southern Sudanese election officials posted early results on Sunday indicating that perhaps more than 95 percent of voters in this regional capital voted to secede from Sudan.

The referendum, held last week, was the capstone of decades of civil war in Sudan, which pitted Christian and animist rebels in the south against Arab rulers in northern Sudan. All indications show the week-long referendum passing and the south forming its own country.

Over the course of the day on Sunday, results from other parts of Sudan, as well as from across the globe, were streaming in, all showing secession to be the overwhelming favorite. According to early results, southern Sudanese living in Europe who voted favored secession by about 97 percent, the BBC reported.

Vote tallying in Sudan started after polls closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, and carried on through the night, with officials often counting by lantern or flashlight.

While the results are the first concrete steps for the south to secede from the rest of Sudan and become its own country, the process will take time. The final vote tally is not scheduled to be announced until Feb. 14.

And true independence would not come before July 9, when an American-backed peace agreement between the north and the south expires. It was that agreement, signed in 2005, that set the referendum in motion.

Still, there are many issues to be ironed out, including citizenship rights, oil sharing and the future of the contested and volatile Abyei region, which was supposed to hold its own referendum on whether to join the south or the north, but never did.

In two other regions that are part of the north, consultations are supposed to determine whether or not to join the south.

But on Sunday, independence already seemed palpable.

Excerpt, read article:  In Sudan, Early Results Strongly Lean to Secession -By Josh Kron | NYT

Related: Crossroads Sudan: Sudan’s Political Challenges (Video)

Oil and Power at Center of Vote to Split Sudan – By Peter Wilkinson & Dan Rivers |CNN International

Sudan Vote ‘Peaceful and Credible’ | AlJazeera Africa

Sudan: A Vote on Secession | MSNBC Photo Gallery

LIFE Magazine Visit Sudan in 1947 | LIFE Photo Gallery

Blue Gold: World Water Wars

In every corner of the globe, we are polluting, diverting, pumping, and wasting our limited supply of fresh water at an alarming level as population and technology grows. The rampant over-development of agriculture, housing and industry increase the demands for fresh water well beyond the finite supply, resulting in the desertification of the earth.

Corporate giants force developing countries to privatize their water supply for profit. Wall Street investors target desalination and mass bulk water export schemes. Corrupt governments use water for economic and political gain. Military control of water emerges and a new geo-political map and power structure forms, setting the stage for world water wars.

Blue Gold follows numerous worldwide examples of people fighting for their basic right to water, from court cases to violent revolutions to U.N. conventions to revised constitutions to local protests at grade schools. As Maude Barlow proclaims, “This is our revolution, this is our war”.  A line is crossed as water becomes a commodity. Will we survive?

Blue Gold: World Water Wars