Bolivia's water, and future

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Juan Ferrero's article in today's New York Times discusses the poor results of water privatization and nationalization in Bolivia, as well as the country's turbid future as it struggles to reform.

After days of protests and martial law, Bechtel - the American multinational that had increased rates when it began running the waterworks - was forced out. As its executives fled the city, protest leaders pledged to improve service and a surging leftist political movement in Latin America celebrated the ouster as a major victory, to be repeated in country after country.

Today, five years later, water is again as cheap as ever, and a group of community leaders runs the water utility, Semapa. But half of Cochabamba's 600,000 people remain without water, and those who do have service have it only intermittently - for some, as little as two hours a day, for the fortunate, no more than 14.

The sad part is that I have read the exact same article by Juan at least four times in the last two years – although sometimes the names of Peru or Ecuador are plugged in for Bolivia, or electricty/gas replaces water as the featured sector.

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