Last update:
2016-02-18

Privatisation of Water and Energy by Union Fenosa, Colombia

The Spanish company holds here monopoly of water and energy basic service, controlling a war on tariffs and violating national laws


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.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Privatisation 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 :Dams and water distribution conflicts
Other
Specific commodities:Electricity
Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

El negocio de la generación, transmisión, distribución y comercialización de la energía eléctrica en Colombia mueve aproximadamente $ 1,6 billones de dólares al año, un equivalente aproximado al 2% del PIB generado durante 2004. En la Costa Atlántica hay 1.396.330 clientes, distribuidos en un área de 132.239 kilómetros cuadrados, Allí habitan, en 186 municipios, 9.145.143 personas, equivalente aproximadamente al 20% de la población colombiana. En 2005, se distribuyeron en esta zona 9.442 Gwh, correspondientes aproximadamente al 20% de la oferta de energía eléctrica en 2004, según el reporte del Ministerio de Minas Energía43. [1]

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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 and 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 of the project
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
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 and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Decree 3735 for the national energy supply

Resolution 120 of September 17, 200

Development Plan of Uribe Government

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

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

IIRSA y la Ecologa Poltica del Agua Sudamericana, Delgado GianCarlo, EcoPortal, 27/07/2014
[click to view]

[2] Carta Abierta a Union Fenosa
[click to view]

[1] UNION FENOSA EN CENTROAMÉRICA Y COLOMBIA
[click to view]

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
[click to view]

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

OMAL - Paz con Dignidad (2007)
[click to view]

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
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Rebellion. org - Unión Fenosa acusada de violar derechos humanos y cortar la luz a más de 100 comunidades en Colombia
[click to view]

TNI - Tratados de libre comercio y conflicto en Colombia
[click to view]

Los estragos de Fenosa en el Cauca
[click to view]

Other documents

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
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl and Daniela Del Bene
Last update18/02/2016
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