flint water protests Bill Pugliano/ Stringer via getty images

Cuando la democracia le falla a la gente

NUEVA YORK – El ganador del premio Nobel Amartya Sen propuso una la famosa idea de que en las democracias no hay hambrunas, ya que los gobiernos responsables harán todo lo posible para evitar el hambre masivo. El mismo razonamiento debiera aplicarse a la provisión de agua potable; como ocurre con los alimentos, se trata de un recurso indispensable para nuestra supervivencia y bienestar.

Sin embargo, acontecimientos recientes en Estados Unidos ofrecen una deprimente comprensión sobre los límites de la máxima de Sen y la forma en que las democracias pueden fallarles a quienes aparentemente deben servir. En 2014, el gobierno municipal de Flint, Michigan, dejó de comprar agua a Detroit y comenzó a captarla de un río cercano. La decisión se debió a los costos y las preocupaciones por la calidad del agua fueron descartadas.

Pero el agua del río corroyó las antiguas tuberías de la ciudad y para cuando salía de los grifos, podía contener elevados niveles de plomo tóxico. Sin embargo, a nadie parece importarle. Los gobiernos de la ciudad del estado se hicieron los distraídos, incluso después de que empresas y hospitales declararon que el agua era inadecuada y comenzaron a usar otras fuentes.

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