At the turn of the 21st century, decades of turmoil, instability and neoliberal development policy in Bolivia resulted in a battle that pitted corporate interests against the basic needs of everyday life. In one corner, a corporate behemoth backed by titans of the international economic system and by the government whose citizens it sought to extort; in the other, the citizens of Cochabamba, Bolivia – unbowed by the power of their opponents. This podcast will narrate the events which culminated in the Cochabamba Water War and evaluate why the citizens of Cochabamba were so successful in their expression of constituent power.


Dr Illan rua Wall, Associate Professor at the School of Law, Warwick University.

James Shultz, Executive Director of The Democracy Center. 

Professor Susan Spronk, Associate Professor of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa. 

Assies W, ‘David versus Goliath in Cochabamba: Water Rights, Neoliberalism, and the Revival of Social Protest in Bolivia’, 30 Latin American Perspectives 3 (May 2003)

Chàvarro J M, ‘Emergence and Protection of the Human Right to Water’ 

Spronk S, ‘Roots of Resistance to Urban Water Privatization in Bolivia: The “New Working Class,” the Crisis of Neoliberalism, and Public Services’, 71 International Labor and Working-Class History, (Spring, 2007), pp. 8-28

World Bank Report Number 17610-BO (April 17th, 1998)

United Nations Water Development Report Number 2 (2006)

Shultz J, ‘The Water War Dispatches in Full’


  • Milton Arias – Poldoro
  • Milton Arias – Gordo Jos
  • Sams N – Measure Mouth
  • Daniel Birch – Low Force 
  • Daniel Birch – Sinking in The Rain

Blue Gold: World Water Wars (2008) by Sam Bozzo

Tambien la lluvia (2012) by Icíar Bollain