A World War Rages All Around Us

In South Africa, Argentina, Gaza, Mexico. . .

| January / February 2004

Seven activists were arrested recently in Soweto, South Africa, for blocking the installation of prepaid water meters. The meters are a market economy answer to the fact that millions of poor South Africans cannot pay their water bills. The new gadgets work like pay-as-you-go cell phones, only instead of having a dead phone when you run out of money, you have dead people, sickened by drinking cholera-infested water.

On the same day South Africa's "water warriors" were locked up, Argentina's negotiations with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund bogged down. The sticking point was rate hikes for privatized utility companies. In a country where 50 percent of the population is living in poverty, the IMF is demanding that multinational water and electricity companies be allowed to increase their rates by a staggering 30 percent.