Water in Cochabamba After the Water Revolt: A Legend With Mixed Results

In the opening months of the year 2000, the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia took to the streets by the thousands, to protest the takeover of their city water system by a subsidiary of the U.S. corporate giant, Bechtel. On three separate occasions the people of Cochabamba and their rural neighbors shut down the city with general strikes and road blockades, facing down a wave of government repression that left a 17-year-old boy killed and more than a hundred people wounded. On April 10, 2000, Bechtel officials finally fled the city and the water system was returned to public control.

But what happened in Cochabamba afterwards? What did the Water Revolt mean for the people and their thirst for clean, affordable water. In this paper, The Democracy Center takes an unvarnished look at the track record since April 2000. The paper is an excerpt from a chapter on the Water Revolt, in the Center’s forthcoming book: Dignity and Defiance – Stories from Bolivia’s Challenge to Globalization (University of California Press, 2008).

Read the full paper in pdf format here.

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