Bechtel blinks, the people win

Bechtel drops $50 million claim to settle Bolivian water dispute.

Bechtel, a global engineering and construction company based in San Francisco, today reached agreement with the government of Bolivia, dropping a legal demand for $50 million after a revolt over privatizing water services in the city of Cochabamba forced the company out of Bolivia in April 2000.

Cochabamba was a landmark victory for the people in the worldwide water privatization battles. The people took over the privatized water company after prices rose and water quality dropped. They refused to buckle, waging street battles when necessary, and they eventually took back their water company.