What do you know about Bolivia’s water war?
Bolivia is a poor country in Latin America.
- The World Bank pressurised the government to give up its control of municipal water supply.
- The government sold these rights for the city of Cochabamba to a multinational company (MNC).
- The company immediately increased the price of water by four times.
- Many people received monthly water bills of t 1,000 in a country where average income was around 5,000 a month. This led to a spontaneous popular protest.
- In January 2000, a new alliance of labour, human rights and community leaders organised a successful four-day general strike in the city.
- The government agreed to negotiate and the strike was called off. Yet nothing happened.
- The police resorted to brutal repression, when the agitation started again in February.
- But the power of people forced the officials of the MN C to flee the city and made the government concede to all the demands of the protesters.
- The contract with the MNC was cancelled and water supply was restored to the municipality at old rates.
This came to be known as the Bolivia’s water war.