The company had denounced them for an action in its offices where the cancellation of the debt of vulnerable families was requested.
The three activists of the Alliance against Energy Poverty (APE), including its spokeswoman, have finally been absolved of charges for which Aigües de Barcelona (Agbar) denounced them. After more than a year of struggle, the magistrate of the Court of Instruction No. 30 of Barcelona has decided to end the procedure by prescription of the attributed charges, given that the case had been paralyzed since March 2018 because of a process of mediation with no results.
In this regard it is worth recalling that Agbar's complaint is related to what happened in February 2018, when APE protested and occupied Agbar’s commercial offices i Barcelona for more than eight hours. APE’s request was that Aigües de Barcelona cancelled the debt that families in vulnerable situations had accumulated before their Solidarity Fund was launched, the mechanism of discounts on invoices for these groups. As we explained at that time, for example, some families had a pending debt of around 1,000 euros and continued to receive regular letters at home with constant reminders of the amount unpaid.
On the same day of the action, the company assured that what was being claimed by APE was impossible to fulfil, but after two weeks, thousands of vulnerable families in Barcelona and nearby areas received a letter informing them that their debt related to the consumption part (the most important section) had been forgiven by Aigües de Barcelona. This once again showed that civil disobedience and protest actions are often a lever for change when it comes to the interests of large transnational companies.
However, Agbar decided to file a complaint and bring to court three APE activists who participated in the action. The trial was marked on May 16th 2018. It was at this time that APE decided to launch a campaign to denounce the repression of Agbar towards organized citizenship (#EncausadesPerAgbar), which had the support of more than a hundred entities and groups at national and international level, and culminated in a press conference in front of the same offices that had been occupied in a pacific way in February 2018.
Given this scenario, Agbar backed down and proposed a mediation process, a fact that caused the judicial proceedings to be suspended temporarily. The mediation, led by the Dean of the Barcelona Bar Association, Maria Eugènia Gay, had several meetings that showed the totally opposite positions of the two parties and, given the impossibility of reaching an agreement, those responsible for Aigües de Barcelona chose to let the case die and not to ask the Court to reactivate the procedure.
Therefore, a year and a half later, we can say that the February 2018 action has ended in the best possible way: with the cancellation of the debt of thousands of vulnerable families and with the acquittal of the accused activists. We are aware that this victory would not have been possible without the support of more than a hundred entities and public opinion. We want to thank the collaboration these organizations because this victory belongs to everyone. From the street, we have shown Agbar once again that we will continue to defend the rights of citizens without fear of repression. On the other hand, we are clear that we would not have experienced this situation if water management in Barcelona metropolitan area was public and democratic and that is why we will continue working to achieve the municipalization of the service.
NEITHER THIRST, NOR COLD, NOR DARKNESS!