electrical station Access termed a human right.

Electricity, water woes plague Coatzacoalcos

Owed 50mn pesos, CFE has cut power to the municipality. It claims service is human right

Two weeks ago it was Cuernavaca, Morelos, now it’s Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, that is facing cuts in electrical service for not paying its bills for a service it claims is a human right.

The municipality has run up a debt of over 50 million pesos (US $2.7 million) with the CFE, the Federal Electricity Commission. And as the hot weather continues, over 100 neighborhoods have little or no running water.

Public spaces such as the malecón waterfront promenade, sports facilities, housing projects, daycare centers, public libraries, police booths, water pumps, the market and the municipal slaughterhouse are among the 240 locations and facilities affected by the suspended power supply, some of them since March 17.

In April, the municipal administration filed for an amparo, or injunction, against the CFE’s service cuts, claiming that access to the electrical grid was a human right.

The government led by Joaquín Caballero Rosiñol argued that cutting off power led to a rise in kidnappings, extortion, theft and acts of torture.

” . . . Many persons belonging to organized crime have taken advantage of the situation created by the CFE,” read the amparo request.

This month, a judge dismissed the arguments and the injunction, so the municipality took the case to a collegiate court. A decision is being awaited.

Many citizens, faced with interruptions to their electricity supply as many as 10 times a day, have demanded the municipality pay off the debt.

Adding further woes to the lives of residents are water shortages caused by a decades-long conflict with indigenous landowners, or ejidatarios, over a strategic water reservoir.

Ejido leaders from Tatahuicapan have once again turned off the taps that supply water to Coatzacoalcos, demanding that 60% of the output of the Yuribia reservoir, where the water comes from, be allocated to their farming and livestock activities.

As if that weren’t enough, the water service infrastructure is woefully inadequate.

The state water commission says Coatzacoalcos needs 1,200 liters of water per second, but the infrastructure can only supply 880 liters.

Ex-governor Javier Duarte was supposed to have fixed some of the problems with a 50-million-peso infrastructure project in 2014. But the water lines it installed and the wells it drilled have proved defective.

As Duarte sits in a Guatemala jail awaiting extradition for corruption charges, lines are collapsing and the wells are proving deficient.

As a result, 30 neighborhoods report an unsatisfactory water supply while 90 others receive the vital liquid in dribs and drabs.

The situation was worsened by the collapse of an 18-inch water line on May 13. It was the only water source for 20 of the 30 aforementioned neighborhoods.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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