Bolivian soldiers take over gasfields

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Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:01 pm

Horrah! Good on them I say. Time that the locals stopped getting ripped off. Be nice to see this happen more often, or that the Multi National companies return a bigger return in royalties and make the locals prosper as much as they do. :D

Bolivian soldiers take over gasfields
May 3, 2006

LA PAZ: President Evo Morales ordered soldiers to occupy Bolivia's natural gasfields on Monday and threatened to evict foreign companies unless they gave Bolivia control over the entire chain of production.

Mr Morales sent soldiers and engineers with Bolivia's state-owned oil company to installations and fields tapped by foreign companies - including Britain's BG Group and BP, Brazil's PetroBras, Spanish-Argentine Repsol, France's Total and the US's Exxon Mobil. The companies had six months to agree to new contracts or leave Bolivia, he said.

Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera said troops were sent to 56 locations around the country.

Soldiers took over major gasfields and refineries and, in the eastern city of Santa Cruz where much of the industry is based, occupied some oil company offices, said Tuffi Are, news editor at the El Deber newspaper, one of Bolivia's largest. He said about 100 soldiers were guarding the PetroBras refinery just outside the city.

Mr Morales, a leftist allied with Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in seeking to blunt US influence in the region, had pledged to exert greater state control over the industry since winning the election in December, becoming Bolivia's first Indian president.

"The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources," Mr Morales said in a speech from the San Alberto field in southern Bolivia operated by PetroBras in association with Repsol and Total. "The looting by the foreign companies has ended," Mr Morales declared.

Brazil is Bolivia's biggest natural gas client, followed by Argentina, and Brazil's demand has been rising rapidly due to power generation, cooking and automotive needs.

Landlocked Bolivia must sell to its neighbours because it lacks a pipeline to ship gas to the Pacific Ocean and from there to Asia, Mexico or the United States.

The announcement follows a trend by oil and gas-rich Latin American nations to exact a larger share of profits from extraction of the fossil fuels.

It comes as Ecuador argues with Washington over a new oil royalties law and less than a month after Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez ordered the seizure of oilfields from Total and Italy's Eni when the companies failed to comply with a government demand that operations be turned over to Venezuela's state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela.

Bolivia has South America's largest natural gas reserves after Venezuela and all foreign companies must turn over most production control to Bolivia's cash-strapped state-owned oil company, Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, Mr Morales said.

Associated Press


Posts: 6721
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2002 5:28 pm

fucking sick cunt!!!

i wonder how long its gonna take for the CIA to train up some guerillas and paramilitary to perform a coup so they can install a new leader. hopefully they dont this time and hopefully the other south american countries follow suit.


bobret the hobret
Posts: 3251
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2002 8:15 pm

exactly what i was thinking - "how long till the CIA is sent in?"

mad cunts. certainly hope others follow suit.


Posts: 10043
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2002 11:56 am

Not so easy anymore with Venezuala and Cuba in the picture now.

It looks like a socialist block will form in latin america.

Hopefully a good thing.


Posts: 4100
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2002 1:19 pm

from members section

Geopolitical Diary: Bolivia and Leftward Movement in Latin America

May 02, 2006 05 20 GMT

Bolivian President Evo Morales followed through on a campaign promise on Monday by nationalizing the country's oil and natural gas industries. The move, which Morales discussed frequently during his first 100 days in power, should not have come as a surprise, but the way in which it was done caught many off guard. Rather than sending a bill to the legislature, Morales enacted the law by decree, announced it on the national May Day holiday -- to the surprise of Bolivia's own media -- and immediately sent the armed forces to secure oil facilities, seeking to prevent any disruptions in operations. In other words, everything was done in the style of the old Latin American populist governments, with a flair that portends a penchant for theatricality and unwillingness to compromise.

Monday's development raises two questions. First, given Bolivia's poverty and dependence on other countries as shipping routes for its gas exports, will the nationalization policy be sustainable over the long run? And second, is this part of a leftist trend that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been encouraging in the region, or will Bolivia's lurch to the left with the hydrocarbons policy be an isolated case?

Whatever the answer to the first question, Bolivia is hardly an isolated case. Venezuela has set certain precedents by incrementally changing the playing rules for foreign companies: Taxes have been increased, and foreign-owned firms have been forced to enter into joint ventures with the state-owned oil company. Ecuador is now moving down the same path. Quito recently approved a law that allows the government to renegotiate contracts with oil companies, giving the government more than half of the revenues from oil sold above a certain price level. And in Peru, presidential candidate Ollanta Humala has promised to nationalize gas reserves and production if he wins the runoff election. There is indeed a pattern here.

Another pattern appears to have developed on trade issues as well. During the Summit of the Americas (hosted by Argentina in November 2005), a bloc of countries -- vocally led by Venezuela, with backing from Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia -- expressed strong opposition to calls to move forward with the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Instead, Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba during the past weekend signed the Peoples' Trade Agreement -- note the absence of the word "free" -- as a way to promote unity in the Americas and as their response to the FTAA.

That said, not all the countries in Latin America are treading the same course. In fact, there may be more differences than similarities in the policies emerging from the region. Although most of the recently elected governments have been labeled "leftist" and supposedly have common agendas, Latin America is beginning to show signs of deep divisions rather than growing unity. Only the most radical governments have nationalized their energy industries or attempted to change the rules of engagement for foreign-owned companies. Countries like Brazil, Uruguay and Chile -- all of which have elected leaders belonging to old leftist movements -- have not pursued nationalization policies, and in fact the investment environment in these countries has remained at least level (or improved, in comparison to the more radical countries in the region).

On trade, the countries that favored the FTAA did not sit back and wait for Chavez or Argentine President Nestor Kirchner to take the lead or declare it a good idea -- they moved ahead to negotiate bilateral agreements with the United States themselves. Colombia and Peru already have signed their respective agreements, although they still await ratification. Ecuador also has engaged in negotiations with the United States, although the approval of Quito's version of the hydrocarbons law has stalled talks. As a result of all of this, Chavez decided last week to pull Venezuela out of the Andean Community of Nations -- a group that includes Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia -- saying (with Bolivia's agreement) that it is incompatible to seek trade agreements with the United States and fellow Latin American states at the same time. Colombia and Peru, defying Chavez's strange economic logic, have decided to move ahead with their U.S. trade deals.

Deeper south, integration has suffered as well. Uruguay and Paraguay have questioned Mercosur's current structure, claiming that Brazil and Argentina run roughshod over the small members of the trade bloc. Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez has labeled the organization -- which comprises Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay -- "useless" and called for reform. At the same time, Vazquez has been looking to launch free-trade talks -- or at lest an investment agreement -- with the United States, and he is scheduled to meet this week with U.S. President George W. Bush.

All in all, Venezuela's Chavez appears to have been sowing division among his neighbors rather than uniting Latin America behind the project he envisions for Venezuela. He has engaged in bitter verbal spats with President Vicente Fox of Mexico, with President Alejandro Toledo Manrique of Peru and with Peruvian presidential contender Alan Garcia. It is true that Peru, Mexico and Nicaragua still might elect leaders who would be closer to Chavez ideologically than to the United States or other moderate Latin American leaders. But despite that, it is not entirely clear that all of them would follow the same policy path. It is considerably more likely that divisions will persist among Latin American states. Economic realities place clear constraints on the policies that the governments of the region can follow.

Thus, with economic and geographic realities in mind, we return to Bolivia and our first question: Are the nationalization policies sought by Morales sustainable?

Though Bolivia has South America's second-largest reserves of natural gas, its hydrocarbons industry remains quite underdeveloped. The country currently exports most of its gas to and through Brazil (Brazilian state-owned Petrobras is one of the main foreign companies in Bolivia's hydrocarbons industry.) By expropriating the hydrocarbons -- or, to be even more to the point, by reducing the status of foreign companies to mere operators of oil and gas fields -- Bolivia will obstruct flows of new investment and strain its relationship with Brazil. Considering that Morales came into office strongly opposed to a plan that would build a gas export line through Chile, he basically would have only one other route to get the gas to market if Brazil was alienated: through Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. But such a pipeline would take years to construct. And though Chavez has pledged support to his friend in Bolivia, it is not clear whether he can do much to help out, especially since the two countries do not share a border.

Morales has made good on one of his chief campaign promises, but doing so might hurt the indigenous population he wants to lift out of poverty more than it helps. The gas deposits are now theirs, but without assistance, the Bolivians will find it difficult to develop or export the gas. The alternative, in the less-than-diplomatic words of Mexico's President Fox: They might have to eat it instead.


Posts: 253
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 4:25 pm

I saw President Morales and his V.P. Alvaro Garcia on the tele the other night (On dateline or something) They seem like pretty rightous dudes who want to pull the poorest country in South America out of the shit and into the new millenium. I hope they can pull it off.

Sending in the military? So much for softly Softly. I bet the Americans are nearly as pissed off as the Brazillians.

The BBC said that Brazil won't be able to draw on its own newfound Gas reserves until 2009, So I guess this cash cow will stop giving milk for the Bolivians around then. I wonder how long they can string out the other resources they are talking about taking back as well.

Maybe the U.S. shit will hit the fan anyway once Brazil no longer requires Bolivian Gas. I don't see how Morales and Garcia can build enough by then to weather the storm. I hope the seppos don't get them.

If they Can get through that I bet we see a new country that Has a booming and modern manufacturing industry bolstered by a budding communications and computing sector. They are supposedly wiring up all the small rural communities to the internet. If they can get enough cash together, I'm sure they could buy education and resources to establish a new base for their economy before anyone realised that they didn't spend it on hospitals or roads. Maybe they should just spend all their cash on the Army.

I'm guessing that Garcia sees an opportunity to start building technical expertise to sell from their little country and to help value-add to their exports. Apart from Mines and gas, they have not much else going for them but the people. To add to their troubles the mines and gas look like they might have trouble on their way to market through pissed off neighbours.

Since natural resources are such a hard game to play for little countries with big debts, Maybe they want to do something new. Clever and outrageous guys like Morales and Garcia would probably be thinking outside the box and you don't get much further outside the box than turning a country like Bolivia towards an information economy.

They might be scaring off investors with this hardassed nationalisation scheme, but I wonder if cheap labour and some govt incentives would get the ball rolling for them again? Good luck to them. I wish Australia had kept it's hand in the state owned mixed-economy pie more.
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