Thomas Coleman, “Who Owns the Water? An Analysis of Water Conflicts in Latin American and Modern Water Law,” intersections 12, no. 2 (2012): 1-19.

“NO to the privatization of water” – This image shows one of the many protest against the privatization of water. The people in the Los Rios Region of Chile are tired of the high prices and low quality of the water delivered by private companies.

In this journal, Thomas Coleman discusses three different case studies on water conflicts between people and corporations in Latin America. Using examples from Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, Coleman explains how corporations encourage governments to privatize. The privatization of water has lead to several problems such as the increase rate of water prices, lower water quality in several areas, and decrease access of water for the lower class. This resulted in conflicts between government and its citizens, ranging from “stop payment” movements in Bolivia to legal debates in Chile. The main interest for water companies is to maximize profit rather than serve the community.

The journal introduces the problem and explains why access to clean water is a fundamental human right using legislation from the United Nations and local governments. Upon giving readers an insight of the problem, Coleman uses three different pieces of evidence to prove that corporations are violating human rights by privatizing water. In each case, the author provides a small history on reasons that lead to water to become privatize in each country. The author is a pre-law student of the University of Virginia and provides a small summary of his academic life at the very end of the journal.

Neoliberalism, the expansion of market economy, became dominant in South America governments faced a debt crisis. This resulted in the privatization of water that has caused problems in South America for the past few decades and still continues to be an issue in several countries. The human right to water has been recently recognized as an international human right. This journal can serve as one of the many examples of human rights abuse caused by corporate influence in South American governments.

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