Erupts in Bolivia"
What happened during the final days of the protesters' struggle
to regain control of public water in Cochabamba? How did
demonstrations to voice public dissatisfaction result in
violence and a state of emergency, replete with crackdowns
on civil liberties, tear gas and widespread arrests? This
report from the BBC covers the frontlines of the fight for
public water in Bolivia. (BBC News, April 8, 2000)
Rock Bolivia; Officials Blame Drug Traffickers"
Read the announcement of Aguas del Tunari's departure
from Cochabamba after nationwide protests resulted in
at least five deaths and 40 injuries. Bolivian Information
Minister Ronald MacLean attributed the violence not to
public anger at Aguas del Tunari's skyrocketing water
rates but to cocaine traffickers "looking for pretexts
to carry out subversive activities." (CNN.com,
April 10, 2000)
In this three-minute audio file, NPR reports on the dispute
in Bolivia and resulting violent demonstrations. (NPR,
Morning Edition, April 11, 2000)
-- Water War"
Originally released in June 2000, this report was commissioned
and published by Public Services International Research
Unit, a U.K.-based group that carries out empirical research
on privatization, public services and globalization. The
report describes the events and economic climate that
preceded the April riots and analyzes the challenges lying
ahead for municipal control of water and sanitation services
in the Cochabamba region.
Company Thwarted by Local Bolivian Community"
A few months after the residents of Cochabamba regained
control of their municipal water system, the BBC reported
on the result and what lay ahead. Although activist Oscar
Olivera and others believe that their victory over privatization
was well-earned and justified, many challenges remain
before the improved water delivery materializes. (BBC
News, July 21, 2000)
Leader to Resign Post for Treatment ..."
Bolivian President Hugo Banzer resigned in 2001 to undergo
cancer treatments. Vice President Jorge Quiroga, a former
IBM executive, was installed to finish out Banzer's five-year
term. (San Francisco Chronicle, July 28, 2001)
Battles Against Dirt-Poor Bolivia ..."
The Bechtel Corporation recently petitioned the World
Bank-affiliated International Centre for Settlement of
Investment Disputes (ICSID) to recoup $25 million from
the Bolivian government as compensation for the cancellation
of Aguas del Tunari's water supply contract in Cochabamba.
This article explores the differing opinions about which
party is to blame for the fallout in Cochabamba. It also
traverses a thicket of complex legal issues that may prove
decisive in the resolution, if any, to a conflict that
is still smoldering after three years. In its appeal for
international arbitration, the Bechtel Corporation claims
that the Bolivian government violated a bilateral trade
treaty between Bolivia and the Netherlands when it revoked
Aguas del Tunari's contract. (San Francisco Chronicle,
February 2, 2002)
Water Rebellion -- and Beyond"
This article spells out the Bechtel Corporation's connection
to price hikes that beset Cochabamba residents shortly
after their city's water system was taken over by the
multinational consortium Aguas del Tunari. Also included
are statements from Oscar Olivera's sister, Marcela, who
claims bullying tactics were used by the Bolivian government
and describes activists' fears that the government will
try to take over the city's water system again. (San
Francisco Chronicle, February 11, 2001)
The Democracy Center offers a series of articles and newsletters
published from February to June 2000 by the center's founder
and executive director, Jim Shultz. Shultz was in Cochabamba,
chronicling the Bolivian people's protest against the privatization
and sale of their water, and played a role in the ensuing
debate. The site archives Shultz's correspondence with World
Bank officials and the Bechtel Corporation, and includes
an updated report on the unfolding legal battle between
Bechtel and the Bolivian government.
Profile Oscar Olivera, executive secretary of the Federation
of Factory Workers and spokesperson for La Coordinadora
(the group of academics, union members, clergy and other
activists that organized the Cochabamba protests), emerged
as the leader and defining voice of the protest against
water privatization in Bolivia. Now an integral part of
efforts to improve municipal water delivery in Cochabamba,
the former shoe-factory worker was honored in 2001 with
several high-profile awards and accolades, including the
2001 Goldman Environmental Prize and the 2000 Letelier-Moffitt
Human Rights International Award.
Shortly after municipal control of water was returned
to the people of Cochabamba, Oscar Olivera was interviewed
by the Multinational Monitor. As the title of
the article, "The Fight for Water and Democracy," suggests,
the events in Cochabamba were symptomatic of a growing
struggle that spread beyond the borders of Bolivia,
a sign of discontent within the globalized market place,
as price tags are attached to resources upon which we
all depend, rich or poor, in industrialized or developing
Founded in 1898, San Francisco-based Bechtel Corporation
is the largest engineering and construction company in
America, boasting such high-profile projects as the Hoover
Dam and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Bechtel
is currently affiliated with projects in over 60 countries.
Read Riley Bechtel's official response to The Democracy
Center's criticism of his company's recent decision to
pursue legal action against the Bolivian government. Bechtel
attributes the skyrocketing water rates to the Bolivian
government and not to Aguas del Tunari, which, Bechtel
claims, only raised water prices by 30 percent to cover
the cost of updating the previous municipal water agency's
International Water Ltd. is the London-based engineering
and construction company co- owned by the Bechtel Corporation
and Italian utility giant Edison SpA. It was also a major
shareholder in Aguas del Tunari, a private consortium
of European and Bolivian engineering and utility firms
that, in September 1999, was awarded an exclusive 40-year
contract to build and distribute an electricity and drinking
water network in the Cochabamba region of Bolivia.
The World Bank has been assisting with economic development
and lending projects in Bolivia since 1964. This Web site
offers links to information about the assistance currently
being offered to Bolivia under the Highly Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) initiative, a plan that was created in
1996 to aggressively tackle debt reduction in the poorest,
most heavily indebted nations in the world. Bolivia has
been receiving such assistance since September 1998. An
overview of the country and "facts at a glance" are also
available at this Web site.
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a specialized
division of the United Nations created after World War
II. It now consists of 183 member countries. Whereas the
World Bank was created to provide long-term loans for
modernization and development projects, the IMF was founded
to provide short-term, nonproject-specific loans to nations
with "balance of payment" difficulties. Access this Web
page, "Bolivia and the IMF," to find out more about Bolivia's
relationship with the IMF and its compliance with IMF
poverty reduction initiatives. Though it is heavy with
statistical information, and a degree in economics would
help one to fully understand Bolivia's relations with
the IMF, the Web site does offer some easy-to-read press
releases highlighting international economic aid and debt
relief for Bolivia.
The European Union provides here an overview of its relations
with Bolivia, emphasizing trade partnerships and economic
This is an online edition, in Spanish, of Bolivia's weekly
newspaper, Los Tiempos.
This is the only English-language weekly paper in Bolivia.
a Ser Privatizadas"
Written in Spanish, this government Web site contains
a listing of Bolivian state-run industries and companies
set to be privatized -- i.e., available for purchase --
and those already "rearranged" as of 1999. While the ownership
status of many of these companies may have changed since
1999, the Web site nonetheless affirms the scope and savvy
of the Bolivian government's efforts to sell off once
state-subsidized industries to private investors.
Washington Post, "South
This Web page contains a repository of information about
Bolivia and other South American nations.
The BBC is regarded as one of the best sources of accurate
information in international news coverage. In addition
to the latest international headlines, their Web site
also boasts country profiles spanning the globe. Divided
into four sections ("Overview," "Facts," "Leaders" and
"Media"), their country profile of Bolivia makes for quick,
informative reading and statistics-gathering.
Center of the Americas
The Resource Center of the Americas' Bolivia page monitors
news in South America, with particular attention to human
rights. The Minneapolis-based nonprofit's concern for
political developments in the Americas hearkens back to
1983, the year it was founded to protest American military
involvement in Central America. This page chronicles news
from and about Bolivia.
Find out what the CIA has to say about Bolivia, its history
and people, by visiting their World Factbook 2001
listing for the country.
World's Water -- Information on the World's Freshwater Resources"
This site is a treasure trove of information on the world's
water supply, from data sets to books examining issues of
water consumption and management as well as links to other
water-watch Web sites. It includes particularly helpful
statistical summaries of renewable freshwater supplies,
ranked by country and even hydroelectric capacity, for different
regions of the world.
Without Access to Safe Drinking Water"
This map on The World's Water Web site graphically illustrates
those areas around the world in which people lack access
to safe drinking water.
Next World War Will Be Over Water"
Jeffrey Rothfeder wrote this editorial for the January
6, 2002, Boston Globe.
Drop for Sale: Our Desperate Battle Over Water in a World
About to Run Out
Read a review of this book by Jeffrey Rothfeder.
Rothfeder on Forum
Hear Jeffrey Rothfeder, journalist and water privatization
expert, in his October 17, 2001, appearance on public
Water Law Project
International water law and policy intersect in this easy-to-use
Web site, which includes a case law section and a table
tracking the length and flow of major international water
Human Right to Water"
This document was written by Peter Gleick, president of
the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment
and Security and first published in 1999.
World's Water 2000-2001: The Biennial Report on Freshwater
Peter H. Gleick writes about such topics as the human
right to water (see above), desalination, water recycling
Green Cross International is an organization founded by
Mikhail Gorbachev and dedicated to water conflict prevention.
Projects to which it is currently committed include the
Water Emergency Plan for the Middle East, the Fight Against
Desertification in Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire, and
dispute arbitration for people impacted by large dams
in Argentina and Paraguay.
Security Policies and Global Systems for Water-Scarce
This analysis by J. Anthony Allen was published by the
World Water Council
Dubbing itself an "International Water Policy Think Tank,"
the Marseilles-based World Water Council was founded in
1996, and its founding is a testament to the environmental
headway made at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Members come
from NGOs and United Nations organizations as well as
from the public and private sectors.
World Water Council's World Water Forum, 2003
From March 16-23, 2003, international delegations, NGOs
and a host of technical experts will convene in Japan
to address water consumption and conservation issues in
the 21st century, "the century of water." You are invited
to participate in the "Virtual Water Forum," a vehicle
for expanding the reach of the conference and linking
personal opinion to international action.
This BBC News feature provides an overview of water needs
and case studies of some of the world's water flash points.
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The Northern Californian Klamath River Basin Water
Between California and Oregon lies the Klamath River Basin,
an area that recently became ground zero of a water war
that pitted the politics of environmental conservation
against agricultural interests. The Klamath Basin Project
was built by the federal government to provide irrigation
water to the drought-prone farming region. However, in
April 2001, the irrigation water stopped flowing when
the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation decided that there was
not enough water in the Upper Klamath Lake to support
both the habitat of endangered species of fish and the
irrigation needs of thousands of acres of farmland. Some
desperate farmers illegally tapped water from the basin
until federal authorities released 75,000 acre-feet of
water into parched, brittle fields three months later.
Farmers still fumed, environmentalists cried foul, and
a complacency over water's abundance evaporated in the
halls of Congress and in the agricultural heartland of
Northern California. Here are some articles chronicling
sides with differing views of the conflict:
Farmers, "Klamath Basin Crisis"
Watch of Oregon
could be our next crisis -- Population growth threatens
San Francisco Chronicle environment writer Glen Martin
evaluates the risk of a full-blown water crisis for California,
citing factors such as explosive population growth in
the state and massive per capita consumption of water.
(San Francisco Chronicle, July 22, 2001)
Coming Water Crisis"
This report was published in 1998 by the Center for Communication
Programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.