chapter  15
16 Pages

From Cochabamba to Colombia: travelling repertoires in Latin American water struggles

On May 18, 2010, fourteen days before my arrival in Bogotá, the Colombian Congress rejected ‘the referendum on water’, as Colombians call it, after more than three years of national mobilization. Congress members refused to discuss the text of the referendum, which had been crafted by the water movement and endorsed by more than two million citizens. In addition, three days before I landed in Colombia, ‘Uribe’s follower’ Juan Manuel Santos had won the ¼rst round of presidential elections. The right-wing coalition that, it appeared, would continue to dominate Congress for the next term was, in the words of environmentalists, ‘the main enemy of the referendum on water’. In such a gloomy context, I thought, activists would be demobilized, their spirits low, and the organization weakened. I decided I would still do my ¼eld trip to research the water movement, but it would be, I anticipated, like going to a wake to offer condolences.