flint water protests Bill Pugliano/ Stringer via getty images

Quand les démocraties faillissent à leurs obligations

NEW YORK – Selon le prix Nobel d’économie Amartya Sen, les démocraties ne connaissent pas de famines, parce qu’un gouvernement responsable fera tout en son pouvoir pour éviter que la population meure de faim. Le même raisonnement devrait s’appliquer à l’eau potable, une ressource tout aussi indispensable à la survie et au bien-être que la nourriture.

Mais certains événements récents aux États-Unis illustrent de manière déprimante les limites du dicton de Sen, et la façon dont une démocratie peut manquer à ses devoirs envers une population qu’elle est pourtant censée servir. En 2014, la ville de Flint, au Michigan, a cessé d’acheter son eau à Detroit pour des raisons d’économie de coûts et a commencé à pomper l’eau de la rivière locale. Les inquiétudes concernant la qualité de l’eau furent ignorées.

Il s’est avéré que l’eau de la rivière corrodait les vieilles conduites de la ville et qu’à la sortie du robinet, elle contenait un taux élevé de plomb. Et ce, dans l’indifférence la plus totale des autorités. La municipalité et le gouvernement de l’État ont préféré fermer les yeux, même après que des entreprises et les hôpitaux aient déclaré l’eau impropre à la consommation et décidé de s’approvisionner ailleurs.

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