Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chocabamba, Bolivia. Uprise Against Privitization of Water, 2000

"Under pressure from the World Bank, in recent years Bolivia has privatized the countries oil and gas pipelines, airline, railway, and electric utility. The result has been weaker labor standards, consumer price hikes and service reductions. The opposition to privatization came to a ahead when last year Bolivia sold the water system of Cochabamba, the countries third largest city.

According to a local Bolivian newspaper "the only bidder in the privatization process secured a water system worth millions for a down payment of less than $20,000".

The Bolivian government sold Cochabamba’s public water system last year to a British-led consortium International Water Limited (IWL). San Francisco, CA based Bechtel Corp. holds a 50% stake in IWL. Following the purchase, in January the company increased the water rates by as much as 400 percent. In a country where the minimum wage is $100 per month many families saw their monthly water bill soar past $20.

People of Cochabamba rebelled. A coalition of labor, human rights, and community activists under an alliance known as "La Coordinadora'', brought the city to a halt for four days blockading roads and shutting down transportation. The government finally promised a price rollback to end the strike. However the promises went unfulfilled. Leaders announced a peaceful march on February 4 to the city’s central plaza.

When a peaceful march was attempted, President Hugo Banzer summoned the police. They arrested protest leaders from their beds in the dark of night, shut down radio stations, and sent soldiers firing into the street . During two days of repression and tear gas attacks 175 people were injured. The people of Cochabamba made it clear they had reached their limit. When they refused to retreat, the Bolivian government declared a "state of siege". After four days of strikes Bolivian government officials were forced to nullify the contract they had signed last year.

source here

more here on wiki

a ton of good info here as well

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