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Cochabamba Water Wars

Luis A. Gómez

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place South America » Bolivia

Period 2000 - present
1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics civil disobedience, poverty, revolution, rural

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00367.x


Recognized as the twenty-first century's first anti-globalization victory, Cochabamba Bolivia's Water War is also considered to be the beginning of a new revolutionary cycle, from 2000 to 2005, in Bolivia. Under the rallying cry “The Water Is Ours” this city's (and surrounding countryside's) citizens resisted the privatization of their potable water and basic services, enabled by the Hugo Banzer Suárez administration to Aguas del Tunari, a subsidiary of the Bechtel corporation. Workers, homemakers, farmers, professionals, coca growers, and other social sectors united under the horizontally structured Coordinadora de Defensa del Agua y de la Vida (Coalition in Defense of Water and Life, or the Coordinadora). Founded on November 12, 1999, the Coordinadora was the political response of people's frustration with an economic model that after almost 15 years of ransacking their resources and limiting their rights, had just privatized their water. According to Law 2029 passed on October 29, 1999, all pre-privatization natural water sources and water-related infrastructure and services (including that which was communal and/or cooperative) were at risk of being placed under private control. Access in Cochabamba was always problematic, and for decades the people had been organizing and using their own resources and technology – without state intervention – to dig their own community wells ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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