Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Arriving Cochabamba

Defending Water for Life campaign coordinator Ruth Caplan has arrived in Cochabamba and posts about common ground with another visitor:

Early Thursday morning, we arrive in La Paz, at 12,000 feet the highest airport in the world. My first conversation is with a doctor from Wales who is returning to Cochabamba for his mother´s birthday. I explain that I am coming for the 10th anniversary of the uprising in Cochabamba against the privatization of the city´s water by the U.S. corporation, Bechtel. Ah, he says, I remember the march. They were throwing stones and my brother was very upset because he couldn´t fill his swimming pool twice a week! Then he says that his son-in-law works for Bechtel in the U.S. at the Richmond WA nuclear site. How far apart could we be? Yet, he was sympathetic with the marchers and thought his brother selfish. So what is it like to be a doctor in Wales with a government system of health care? He said it was a good system. Everyone got coverage paid by the government and he got a decent salary. Not wealthy like in private systems, but quite adequate. A lesson for me in not jumping to conclusions about people.

After a short flight to Cochabamba, I get a ride to the labor center and upon entering see our art show, "It´s Our Water, Damn It," beautifully displayed by Emily Posner who had arrived several days earlier. The quilt pieces have been sewn together and are hanging on the wall. The 6 foot banner of Nestle sucking water from the towns in Maine is also hung. Even the sculpture of the earth weeping is on display. Cochabamba and Maine don´t seem quite so far apart.

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