3rd Peoples' Global Action (PGA) Conference
Information for Participants
versión castellana  conference call out
information for participants

Cochabamba, Bolivia, 16-23 September 2001

Welcome to the Third Peoples' Global Action Conference. Those of us in Bolivia are anxious to meet you and to share energy, discussions and actions with you here in Cochabamba.

Below you will find important information for your trip as well as emergency contacts. If you have only urgent and emergency questions on the logistics for the conference please contact George Ann Potter at gapotter@albatros.cnb.net (only for urgent logistical questions).


The Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba represent more than 35,000 subsistence farmer families in the Chapare tropical coca growing area of the state of Cochabamba. The vast majority of the members of the Six Federations are first and second generation colonists who have migrated from their highland farming and mining communities in response to deteriorating environmental conditions, closing and privatizing of most of Bolivia's mines and neoliberal economic policies that destroy their subsistence base. As the defenders of the traditional coca leaf and the most organized labor group, urban or rural, in all of Bolivia, the Six Federations have come under greatest attack from the Bolivian government in recent years and are known worldwide for defending indigenous rights.

The National Federation of Domestic Workers of Bolivia (FENAETROB) was founded March 18, 1993. It is a non-profit union organization working in defense of the rights of domestic workers in all of Bolivia. It is a service to women, young and old, whose search for work has led them away from their communities to jobs in urban households. FENAETROB includes 14 unions from the following Bolivian cities: La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro, Sucre, Trinidad, Potosí and Santa Cruz. Since 1992 the domestic workers have worked for the approval of a law that would protect their rights as female workers and gain recognition of their work. The work is difficult due to the discrimination of the General Work Law, which discriminates against the domestic worker by only recognizing half of her rights. Therefore the struggle for justice and equality, for an end to servitude and slavery, and a rejection of all types of discrimination that affect each domestic worker will continue until the Law for Regulation of Salaried Domestic Labor is approved.


Last year the city of Cochabamba became a symbol in the struggle against global capitalism. In the month of April civil society ousted the North American transnational Bechtel and its affiliate Aguas del Tunari thereby reversing legislation aimed at privatizing the city's water system. Led by the Coalition for the Defense of Water and Life and strongly backed by the participation of the citizens of the state of Cochabamba (including coca farmers, highland rural peasant irrigation leaders, the urban population, etc) the people won an enormous victory over the neoliberal model.

The people of Cochabamba continue to question and fight capitalist globalization as they advocate legislation in defense of the coca leave, in favor of traditional water usage and aimed at the retention of Bolivian businesses previously and currently being privatized.


Quechua is the principal indigenous language and the name Cochabamba is derived from the Quechua words khocha pampa meaning swampy plain. Despite its name, the Cochabamba state, located in the heart of Bolivia, contains fertile agricultural valleys, mountainside cloud forests and lowland tropics.

You should pack for temperatures between 15 and 35C. September in Cochabamba is a very pleasant climate with hot days (30C) and cooler, but not cold, evenings (15C). For daytime wear you will be most comfortable in a short-sleeved shirt and light pants or a skirt. For evenings the addition of long sleeves or a jacket should suffice. If you plan to travel in the Andean Altiplano before or after the conference be extra sure to bring along a warm sweater or jacket! You will also need a good pair of shoes for the march.

We will take a one day trip to the Chapare in the tropics where it will be hot and steamy thus you may also want to bring raingear, sandals, sunscreen, bug repellent and lighter clothing.

For use in the lodges you will want to pack towels and any toiletries you require. It is also strongly advised that you bring a sleeping bag, sheets or blanket since some but not all beds are guaranteed these services.

We are looking forward to a night in which to exhibit the folkloric and traditional music and dances of Bolivia. If you play any type of music PLEASE bring your instrument, or at least your voice, and a commitment to participate! Also be sure to bring relevant slides and videos to share with everyone on other evenings and occasions.


Altitude precautions: Although Cochabamba is over 9,000 feet (about 3,000 meters) above sea level most travelers arriving from lower levels experience no problems associated with altitude. If you first arrive in La Paz (the airport at El Alto is more than 14,000 feet, about 4,000 meters, above sea level) you very well may experience shortness of breath, dizziness and/or fatigue, all of which should pass with enough rest and plenty of water, coca tea or soroche (altitude sickness) pills available at any pharmacy without a prescription (though be advised that they have a high caffeine content). If you have problems with blood circulation or with your heart, please consult your doctor before coming.

Digestive problems: You should have no problems in this regard so long as you take the necessary and standard precautions: purchase of bottled water for drinking and brushing of teeth; eat food that is cooked or peeled (and preferably not sold on the street). For those with a sensitive stomach it would be a good idea to pack whatever remedies you generally use to prevent or relieve such problems.

Vaccinations: Those attending the conference will need to check within their home countries to find out what vaccinations are required for visits to Bolivia. The only vaccination that is a must is for Yellow Fever as it is required for entry into the Chapare and similar tropical areas. Many recommend the use of anti-malarial medicines (which you would need to begin taking one week before arriving in Bolivia) but those of us who live in Cochabamba find them to have uncomfortable side affects and to be unnecessary. Although many travelers update most of their vaccinations before coming, you will be here a very short time and therefore may prefer to consult a doctor's advice on the matter.

Drugs: If you use prescription drugs be sure to bring an adequate supply and the prescription for your stay. Drug use other than for medical purposes is strictly forbidden in Bolivia and carries very severe penalties.

Money: The local currency is the boliviano (about 6.66 to the US dollar, USD, as of August 1, 2001). Dollars are widely used and exchanged in Bolivian cities and so it is a good idea to bring the majority of your money in dollars or travelers cheques. Cash is easily accessible with major credit cards via ATM machines. While it is safe to exchange money in the street you will find better rates in banks or exchange houses. We will provide moneychangers at the meeting and lodging places throughout the week. If you are going to fly to Bolivia, you should budget at least 100 USD for internal travel fees (for example there are fairly hefty exit taxes at the airport).

Security: The only significant safety concern is the theft of your purse or wallet in a crowded market. This is easily avoidable by closely guarding your bags and pockets and being sure to never ever display large amounts of money in crowded areas.

It is also important to be aware that as a foreigner you may find yourself the target of drug trafficking accusations. Bolivian law leaves no hope of negotiation, there is no system of habeas corpus and a lengthy prison stay is a certainty if so accused. In such a situation there is nothing anyone can do to help you, so be careful!


Communications: International calls are easily placed through the local company Entel. Phone cards for 10, 20 and 50 Bolivianos are widely available and can be used with any Entel phone, conveniently located in parks and stores all over the city. Prices per minute are as follows:

Africa, Asia, Oceania 15.50 Bolivianos
Central America, Europe 13.50 "
South America, Mexico 9.50 "
Andean countries, USA, Canada 6.50 "

Internet cafes, offering email and international calling services (which are cheaper but of very poor quality) are located in almost every block in the downtown area. Fax and photocopying services abound.

Transportation: We will help you from the airport to the lodging facilities if we have your arrival flight information ahead of time. The conference site is a 25-minute walk from downtown and there are convenient buses (ex: the G line) which run between as well and cost 1.5 Bolivianos. A taxi ride within the city ranges between 3-9 Bolivianos (0.50/1.50USD).


Colegio Evangélico Metodista
Instituto Americano
Ciclovía y Avenida Santa Cruz

Directions: North of Río Rocha (Rocha River) in the Queru Queru zone: From the Plaza de La Paz Mundial (everyone knows the Plaza but know its name), at the intersection of Avenida América and Avenida Santa Cruz, continue up Avenida Santa Cruz for three blocks (passing Calle Zegarra and Calle Alcibiades Guzman (streets). The third block is more of a park with trees and a bike path (ciclovia). The Instituto Americano will be across the third street and on the right. Turn to the right at the bike path/ciclovia and follow along the white wall, now on your left, for another half a block until you arrive at the main gate of the campus.


Most participants will visit Bolivia on a tourist visa of at least thirty days. This is easiest and highly advised. It is the responsibility of every conference representative to find information pertaining to visa requirements.

PGA contact address:
Peoples' Global Action
c/o Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW),377 Bank Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
e-mail: agpweb (AT) lists.riseup.net; www.agp.org