Uruguyans Learn from Bolivia, Not India
By SAUL LANDAU and PUJA PATEL
Privatization has become a no-no word for George Bush since his handlers viewed polls indicating that the US majority fear that the word relates to them losing their future social security. But third world people have come to understand privatization as a euphemism for the externally mandated sale of their property to multinational companies. In several instances catastrophe has resulted from such sales.
In 1999, the Bolivian government, following World Bank advice, provided a subsidiary of the US-owned Bechtel Corporation a 40 year lease to run the Cochabamba water supply. More than half a million people in the area, most of them desperately poor, came to depend on Bechtel for water. Bechtel tripled the price.
Instead of wringing their hands, the Cochabamba populace staged general strike, shutting down the city of Cochabamba and forcing President Hugo Banzer to either declare martial law or concede. At first, Banzer ordered troops to disperse the protestors. The repressive forcers wounded some 100 people and killed four. The protest intensified and threatened to spread, so Banzer conceded and broke the contract with Bechtel.