Privatization: Bolivia, Cochabamba: Water Wars - Victory or Fiasco?
Updated - Monday 29 July 2002
New Yorker writer William Finnegan travelled to Cochabamba in Bolivia to learn about the water war and to see what lessons could be drawn about privatization, globalization and the growing anger in Latin America over economic inequality. Cochabamba put its water system up for auction in 1999. Only one bidder showed up. The company, called Aguas del Tunari, a division of the large American construction firm Bechtel, promised to expand water service. In exchange the contract guaranteed the company a 15-17% profit. Two months after taking over the water system, Aguas del Tunari raised the water rates, which lead to large-scale protests. Largely ignored by official US media, news about the revolt came mainly through the Internet, thanks to American activist Jim Shultz. The protests forced Bechtel to withdraw. Aguas del Tunari has now filed suit against the Bolivian government asking for US$ 25 million (EUR 25.5 million) in compensation. The case is being heard in Washington DC, in an arbitration court run by the World Bank. The "water warriors" who ousted Bechtel took control of the water system, vowing to run it as a human right, not as a commodity. But without new investment, they have been unable to improve or expand service. Neither the government, nor the World Bank appears willing to help them.
See also: Cochabamba : victory or fiasco?, ID21, 12 Jun 2001, http://www.id21.org/insights/insights37/insights...
Related news - Netherlands: Protests against Dutch Involvement in Developing Country Water Privatization, Source, 6 May 2002, http://www.wsscc.org/source/weekly/02178.html#ne...
Source: PBS, Jun 2002
With MySource Newsfeeds, you can select the regions and themes of your interest, and get daily or weekly updates by e-mail: