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Food and Water Watch

DECEMBER 18, 2006
4:38 PM

CONTACT: Food and Water Watch
Jen Mueller (202) 797-6553

U.S. Citizens Support Bolivian Water Rights
Hundreds of letters from U.S. to Aguas del Illimani Urge No Compensation, No Lawsuits

WASHINGTON - December 18 - U.S. citizens wrote hundreds of letters to Mr. Antoine Kuhn, the Director of Aguas del Illimani in La Paz, Bolivia urging the company to pay its debts and leave Bolivia without demanding compensation or filing lawsuits, announced the international consumer organization Food & Water Watch. The letters will be hand delivered today to the Aguas del Illimani office in La Paz, Bolivia.
“U.S. citizens are asking Aguas del Illimani to leave Bolivia without demanding compensation and without hoisting millions of dollars in debt onto the shoulders of the Bolivian people,” said Food & Water Watch senior organizer Sara Grusky.
The letters express outrage that Aguas del Illimani failed to provide potable water to thousands of people and intentionally excluded thousands more from the service area leading to a serious public health crisis in El Alto and La Paz.
A recent independent audit shows that Aguas del Illimani, whose major shareholder is the world’s second largest water corporation, Suez, does not have grounds for a lawsuit even though it is threatening to take the Bolivian government to the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). To the contrary, the audit documents that Suez owes the Bolivian government millions in unpaid fines.
The campaign to support water struggles in El Alto was part of Blue October, a month of international action to challenge corporate control of water and to protect water as a shared natural resource that must be made available to all people. On October 31, 2004, the citizens of Uruguay voted to amend their constitution to recognize this fundamental right. Blue October celebrates this historic move by challenging corporate control of water through global action.
The Blue October campaign successfully brought people together from all over the world in support of water justice in Bolivia. Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, organized dozens of events throughout the month in homes, at universities and in public libraries across the United States to screen the new film Fuera (Out!) and support the campaign for water justice in El Alto.
“The Bolivian government should not owe Suez a cent,” says Fuera filmmaker Lindsay Katona.
One concerned person writes “Suez, you paid US$ 1.6 billion last year to shareholders while the people just outside your factory, more than 200,000 people, don’t have access to clean water.”
Another wrote, “Because of the failing of your company, children are dying from water borne diseases because they must resort to contaminated water sources for basic needs”. The letter is signed “a deeply concerned citizen of the world”.


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