Cochabamba's water rebellion is also drawing substantial world attention and solidarity. International groups have pledged their support against Bechtel's lawsuit for as much as $20 million compensation for losing the Cochabamba contract. It is an action that pits one of the world's wealthiest corporations against the people of South America's poorest nation. Bechtel has been actively shopping for the friendliest international forum possible and apparently has decided its best chances lie in a suit under a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) signed previously between Bolivia and Holland. Late in 2000 Bechtel reassinged its corporate papers to place its subsidiary under Dutch registration, in preparation for such action. This is described as the first major international civil society fight against a corporate legal action under such a treaty.
Monsanto plans to earn revenues of $420 million and a net income of $63 million by 2008 from its water business in India and Mexico.
Bechtel Group Inc. contracts with the city of San Francisco to upgrade the city's water system. Bechtel employees are working side by side with government workers in a privatization move that activists fear will lead to an eventual take-over of San Francisco's water system. Research has shown that selling water on the open market only delivers it to wealthy cities and individuals. Governments are signing away their control over domestic water supplies by participating in trade treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and in institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). These agreements give transnational corporations the unprecedented right to the water of signatory companies. Recently, a civil society movement has been created to wrest control of water back from profit-making forces and claim it for people and nature. Called the Blue Planet Project, this movement is an alliance of farmers, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, public sector workers and urban activists who forced the issue of water as a human right at the March 2000 World Water Forum in the Hague. The Project is holding the first global citizens' summit on water in Vancouver in July 2001.
2. Governments around the world must act now to declare water a fundamental human right and prevent efforts to privatize, export, and sell for profit a substance essential to all life.
3. The story of the destruction of the world's remaining freshwater sources is one of the most pressing of our time; there is simply no way to overstate the nature of this crisis. And yet when the mainstream media report on it-which is not nearly often enough or in sufficient depth-they seldom ask the most crucial question of all. Who owns water? We say the earth, all species and all future generations. Many in power have another answer.