While politicians on Monday played the blame game, residents of the small Colombian town of Yopal are close to breaking point, as they approach the two year mark without running water.
Colombia’s Housing Minister German Vargas Lleras hit back at alleged claims made by the mayor of Yopal, Willman Enrique Celemin, that the national government had failed to provide financial support to assist in solving the town’s water crisis.
“The departmental and municipal governments manage resources of some $930 million [which they could use] to invest in water, and in three years they have not made a single investment in this regard,” said Vargas.
Vargas also said that his ministry had been waiting since June of 2012 to receive a final project proposal from the departmental and municipal governments in order to allocate funds for a solution to the problem, but had yet to receive anything.
Meanwhile, tensions flared over the last two days; on Monday protesters reportedly hurled stones at the governor’s office, the mayor’s office, the office of the regional inspector general and the water company. On Sunday, protesters in Yopal clashed with police out of frustration with the situation. Two police sustained minor injuries and 22 people, 11 adults and 11 children, were taken into custody. Protesters have reportedly also blocked key roads which connect the Cansare department with the departments of Arauca, Meta, and Boyaca.
Mayor Enrique responded to the unrest by declaring a curfew between the hours of 8PM to 4AM, which will be kept in place until Thursday or Friday. While reports have stated that the Colombian government has sent ten water tankers to the town to bring emergency relief to residents, a final soluton to Yopal’s water woes has still not been reached.
The town of Yopal is located in the eastern department of Casanare. Its 140,000 residents have been without running water for 22 months, after a landslide in May 2011 caused the collapse of the town’s water treatment plant.
- Colombia: termina protesta de ciudad sin agua (Terra)
- Vargas Lleras reafirma apoyo del Gobierno para la crisis en Yopal (Vanguardia)
- Cuestión de administrar (El Espectador)
- Toque de queda y ley seca en Yopal para controlar protestas (El Colombiano)
- Alcalde de Yopal decretó toque de queda y ley seca (Vanguardia)
- Toque de queda en Yopal por ataques contra sedes públicas (WRadio)