January 16, 2005

The Bolivia Conflict: Looking Beyond

MABB is a registered TM.

As a matter of short commentary, taking into account last week's events, one cannot help but thinking what will the effects be on the whole region. We have, a water services company, daughter firm of a transnational company, being ejected by social and civic organizations because they thought the company was not meeting the needs of the citizens.

Aguas del Illimani, servicing the cities of La Paz and El Alto, was driven-out by protests organized by civic and social organizations. All they had to do was to pressure the government into canceling the contract binding the company and the government.

The precedent is already set. People just have to organize themselves in social and civic organizations and stage protests, block roads, march through the street and the like, and eventually the government will have to listen and do what the protestors ask. It's a dangerous game, but it can be played.

The tactic is not new, but now it is being used with much more lethality. Regional coordination is much better than before and this factor brings a specially dangerous element to these measures.

One question arises. Can or will similar events arise in other parts of Latin America? Places like Ecuador, Peru, or Argentina?

Theoretically, the same tactics can be applied in any other country. We have even seen them in Seattle. Not many conditions are needed. We have already seen protests of a similar nature in the countries mentioned. The novel idea is to use these tactics against transnational corporations. Surely the anti-globalization movement must be observing events in Bolivia with a keen eye. All they need is organization and coordination.

Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Seattle, watch out!