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Bolivian Consulate Gets A Wetting Down

Media Release
The Water Pressure Group
New Zealand
13 April 2000


In a vigorous demonstration outside the Bolivian Consulate in Remuera, Auckland today, protestors made their point that the martial law being imposed throughout Bolivia in order to force privatisation of water services onto the people of Cochabamba City and surrounding districts, despite their general strike and civil disobediance, is totally opposed in New Zealand. The placards included one which said "Bolivia, el mundo les esta mirando" - (Bolivia, the world is watching you)

The Water Pressure Group combined with several other groups to organise the picket (see names of groups on Open Letter following beneath this release). The participating groups pledged to give any practicable assistance they are able to the Bolivian people.

BOLIVIAN CONSUL HOSED OFF As a high point of the protest action, the Water Pressure Group fire engine was used to hose high pressure water into the property of the Boilivian Consulate, over the firmly barred large wooden gates. This was a symbolic gesture of water being basic to all communities, and that the picket was to demonstrate contempt for the Bolivian Government and military authorities, while offering support to Bolivian citizens.

Speakers made the point that while Bolivians are literally dying to get their water back, we in New Zealand are confronted by a growing menace of commercialisation and privatisation being introduced locally - promoted by big business interests, served by elected bodies who refuse to listen citizens' objections.

INTERNATIONAL MESSAGES Several messages of support from overseas underscored this stand of international solidarity. They were read out the picket, including messages from Bolivia, Canada, Australia and Pakistan..Two of the messages read::

"We wish you a successful picketing to raise the level of awareness on the complexity of issues involved. It is heartening to learn that people do support those whom the mighty are trampling under their greedy feet. Development VISIONS Lahore-Pakistan."

"We would be proud to be standing beside you in person but we are with you in spirit as are all those concerned to preserve the dignity and strength of the public. Justice Action sees the water issue as binding us individual humans at the molecular level in a fight for survival. Let governments and corporations know that they can't squeeze us any more. Brett Collins Justice Action -NSW, Australia"

OPEN LETTER DELIVERED When nobody came from the Consulate property after an invitation by loudspeaker, the picket's open letter was posted into the consulate letterbox by a Auckland City councillor, Maire Leadbeater,

Photos of the picket are attached, or can be seen on website please feel free to access and use them - no copyright.

Further enquiries phone or email Jim Gladwin & Penny Bright Media spokespersons The Water Pressure Group email: PO Box 10046 Dominion Road Auckland New Zealand Ph / Fax 0064 09 828 4517 Mobile: 025 2666 552



The Consul Bolivian Consulate 95 Victoria Ave Remuera Auckland New Zealand 13 April 2000 Dear Sir / Madam,

We are writing to you to express our absolute outrage and disgust at the atrocious behaviour of the Bolivian government in suspending human rights and imposing martial law upon the peoples of Bolivia in order to privatise the water supply of Cochabamba and elsewhere. That this government action should take place in response to a long standing and overwhelming rejection of the privatisation o the water supply to the people of Cochabamba makes the imposition of martial law even more revolting.

Recognising that water is necessary for human life to survive, the people of Cochabamba have clearly expressed an overwhelming desire to have control and ownership of their own water supply. In particular, over the last year, these people have demonstrated in mass actions and through all avenues open to them their clear determination that the water supply be retained in direct public ownership and control. The government of Bolivia's equivocation on this matter has led in recent months to an increasingly frustrated and angry population, which has resulted in the international financial institutions of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund imposing pressure on the Bolivian government to continue with privatisation.

The Bolivian government's treachery in inviting protest leaders to negotiations as a ruse so that they could arrest them was met with outrage by the Bolivian people and people around the globe, including here in Aotearoa / New Zealand. Following this with the apparent agreement by the Bolivian government to abolish the water privatisation was the sudden replacement of agreement by martial law. This policy reversal of the government to supporting privatisation has meant that the Bolivian government has forcibly made themselves international outlaws. These actions also raise the question of whether the government of Bolivia should be held accountable to\ international scrutiny over human rights abuses carried out by troops and police in their name.

We demand the immediate implementation by the Bolivian government of the following points:

* The immediate removal of martial law, and the resumption of normal levels of access for the Bolivian people to al parts of their country.

* The cancellation of the contract with the Bechtel corporation subsidiary Aguas del Tunari without compensation to this company, and that Aguas del Tunari leave Bolivia.

* The prompt release and no prosecution of the people involved in the protests over privatisation.

* Generous levels of compensation and health treatment to be paid / made available promptly to the families of all victims of government attacks, abuse and arrest.

* That the Bolivian government will approve reform of the national water law that is the object of protests over maintaining local water control.

* The immediate release of the number of people who have been arrested in the past three days who are now unaccounted for and not present in any of the jails or prisons in Cochabamba.

* The immediate and unconditional end to all privatisation and commercialisation schemes for water, wastewater and other public services in Bolivia.

We most strongly remind the Bolivian government that the eyes of the world are upon them now, and that their actions or inactions on these fundamental human rights matters will result in not only widespread disorder and rebellion from the Bolivian people, but the censure and intervention of the rest of the world.

We, the members of the Water Pressure Group, Radical Society, Citizens Against Privatisation and Worker's Power, The Fair Deal Coalition, Poverty Action Coalition, Workers Communist Group and other church, peace and human rights organisations, call upon the Bolivian government to uphold human rights and resolve the current situation by listening to and implementing decisions that respect and obey the will of the Bolivian citizens, which has so clearly been shown to be against all forms of privatisation, especially that of the water supply of Cochabamba.

Yours faithfully,

Water Pressure Group, Radical Society, Citizens Against Privatisation, Worker's Power. The Fair Deal Coalition Poverty Action Coalition Workers Communist Group Justice Action - NSW

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