ICSID/Telecom Italia: hands off Bolivia!

15 January 2008
Article
“Some multinational companies take over our natural resources, privatize basic services, fail to pay taxes and then, when they have no arguments in their defense, they go to the so-called ICSID. And then, in that World Bank tribunal, no country wins against the multinationals. So why do we need an ICSID where only the multinational companies can win?” – President Evo Morales of Bolivia Another World Bank/Multinational Attack on Bolivia – Stop ICISD and Telecom Italia Once again, Bolivia is under attack by multinationals and the World Bank. In 2000, the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia took back their water system after it was privatized to US based Bechtel Corporation, and prices were hiked up to 300%. Bechtel struck back, suing Bolivia through the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID. But pressure from citizens and social organizations around the world succeeded in forcing Bechtel to back off – and the suit was finally dropped. Now, Telecom Italia – one of the world’s largest telecom operators and the dominant telephone company in Bolivia – has followed suit. The public phone company in Bolivia, ENTEL, was taken over by the Italian company in 1995. When Bolivia suggested that Telecom Italia has provided faulty service, has not reinvested profits from Bolivia to benefit Bolivians, and then set up a commission to explore recovering control of the once-public company, Telecom went to the World Bank to sue Bolivia. At ICSID Telecom is claiming Bolivia has “destroyed” it’s investment – even though the company continues to operate and make money. Bolivia, having learned from it’s lessons from Cochabamba, pulled out of ICSID on May 2, 2007. Yet the World Bank’s ICSID still admitted the case on October 31st. After decades of privatizations and corporate privilege, Bolivia is saying “enough” – enough corporate profit before public service, enough World Bank providing private “justice” for multinationals, at the expense of countries like Bolivia. Bolivia needs your help. Learn about the case, and fight back: 1.Learn more about the Telecom case at ICISD, and how international law and the World Bank/ICSID give corporations “super powers” that can trump people’s rights and development, and why Bolivia left ICSID. 2.Join in calling on ICISD and Telecom Italia to back off.