10th Anniversary of the Water War in Cochabamba, Bolivia
In April 2010, Bolivia commemorated the 10th anniversary of the The Water War, in which the population of Cochabamba rose up and stopped the privatization of their water supply, a successful uprising that brought about a country-wide political sea-change.
The Federation of Factory Workers of Cochabamba, together with AsicaSur, the association of the community-run water systems of Cochabamba's southern and poorest neighborhoods (the Zona Sur), spearheaded a series of grassroots events marking the anniversary, to reaffirm their defense of water as a common good.
David Solnit and Mona Caron were invited to create visuals for the events by prominent water warrior and Goldman Prize winner Oscar Olivera, and organizer and Red VIDA coordinator Marcela Olivera on behalf of the Coordinadora Del Agua Y De La Vida, Red VIDA, AsicaSur, and the FWW.
The events were centered around the third Feria Del Agua and a conference with delegates from 15 countries.
During the 6 week stay, Mona designed a 128 foot long mural titled "La Lucha Por El Agua Continúa" which she painted with help by local artists and activists by the entrance of the headquarters of the Federation of Factory Workers of Cochabamba on Avenida Melchor Perez.
Simultaneously, David and Mona worked with local communities in the creation portable art to amplify the visual impact of a massive commemorative march through the city of Cochabamba that took place on April 15th, 2010.
Workshops were held in the Zona Sur, in Tiquipaya, and in the City center; working with both youth and adults, and in venues ranging from the local art school to the Factory Workers Union Hall. The visual material included banners, cardboard props, and giant puppets.
A few highlights:
Don Felimón, the representative of one of the local autonomous community-run water cooperatives (Cooperativa 22 de Abril of the 14th District of Cochabamba in the Zona Sur), himself a front-line veteran of the Water War, came up with an allegorical street theater idea, which David and Mona helped build the props for. This included a remake of the "Aguas Del Tunari" sign (the front company for Bechtel), whose take-down they re-enacted in the theater.
A giant papier-mâché world / water drop was created and carried across town for the march, with no few challenges due to its height, which was a memorable adventure for all involved.
- The march on April 15th was a spectacular sight, with participants from rural, urban, and urban margin residents participating.