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Water Privatization in Latin America - Food & Water Watch | Food & Water Watch
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I volunteer for Food & Water Watch because I get to have a real impact on important campaigns. I know that every time I come out to help out at a table, a public event or activist meeting that what I'm doing is really making a difference.
Anne Bertucio

Water Privatization

The Problems with Corporate Control of Water

“The fight for water, and the fight for life, has to go beyond country, flag, colour, politics, and language.”

— Danilo Urrea, Colombia

Privatization of Latin America’s water has left citizens dealing with many serious issues:

  • less access to water
  • extremely high rates
  • poor water quality

Meanwhile, while millions of people go thirsty, corporations are profiting from the exploitation of Latin America’s water by:

  • growing water-thirsty cash crops for export
  • modifying rivers to transport cheap agricultural commodities
  • bottling and selling water
  • charging high rates for water

How Did This Happen?

Institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund drive policies that force privatization of water on poor countries.

Food & Water Watch's Work in Latin America
Food & Water Watch Latin America works with small-scale farmers organizations, environmental groups and water activists, trade unions, women, youth, and student groups, and indigenous peoples organizations to push back the corporate assault and to promote healthy food systems and safe, affordable water for all.

Food & Water Watch provides support through the citizens organizations network Red VIDA, Vigilancia Interamericana para la Defensa y el Derecho al Agua (the Inter American Network for the Defense and Right to Water).

For information in Spanish on communities and organizations defending public water, check out La Red Vida.
Also, thanks to government deals with these institutions, big agricultural corporations get public funding to grow and ship massive quantities of cash crops from the heartland of South America to be used somewhere else.

Citizens Fight Back

Latin America is rich in social movements that are fighting against the abuses of their land and water.

For instance, the “water war” waged by Cochabamba residents in Bolivia in 2000, led by trade unions and campesino organizations against private water giant Bechtel, inaugurated a decade of resistance against corporate control over water.

This movement has resulted in constitutional reforms to prevent water privatization and ensure public control of water resources in Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia and a successful constitutional plebiscite in Uruguay.

Read more in Changing the Flow: Water Movements in Latin America.