Bolivia, A16, and Bechtel

Paul_A paul_a at
Thu Apr 13 15:53:21 PDT 2000

Am I right that the tragedy in Bolivia REALLY needs to be brought out at A-16? Are these a few relevant points?:

1) Bolivia is hardly an exception. For a number of years the WB has made privatization and imposing higher prices for basic drinking water supply to the poor a centerpiece a centerpiece of policy for each and every poor country. ((For a self congratulatory review of their impact see "Water pricing experiences : an international perspective" World Bank technical paper ; no. WTP 386 1997 on the WB WebSite))

2) Drinking water is hardly an exception. For example, the World Bank has likewise forced poor countries to charge for the most basic essential health care to the poorest and impose charges for basic education on the poorest people on earth.

3) These policies are presented in papers with titles like: "How Adjustment Programs Can Help the Poor: The Experience of the World Bank" or "Adjustment Programs and Social Welfare" (both real examples of World Bank publications). As A-16 approaches the WB President argues that he is really about "helping the poor" and that 25% of its money is used to support its social policies. People should be reminded how they use language.

4) But, of course, the Bank and the IMF are part of a larger picture and far bigger interests. . Am I right that the Bechtel connection is HEAVEN-SENT? I wish I could remember more and I hope others on LBO do know more (maybe our West-Coasters?). Bechtel has long been a WB favorite contractor - naturally since they are infamous for using their heavy handed Repub political clout for getting the big infrastructure projects overseas and in the defense industry. This goes back to the days of "discovering" Saudi Arabian and their oil company links. Here's a brief list that I know of :

- MANY monster environmentally unfriendly projects (including favorites like the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station).

- Lots of unpleasant and inhuman defense projects

- Sleazy political corruption scandals (sure wish I could remember more; weren't they convicted for overseas bribes in the 70's?)

- Good ole anti-union actions along with their mining company buddies (Salt of the Earth?)

- AND for the baby boomers even a Nixon connection: Nixon confident George Shultz was their past Pres and remains on the Board (even Cordell Hull was a Bechtel-er for you conspiracy buffs).

This sure looks like a coalition builder! Any reactions?


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