Bolivian Oil

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Bolivian President Evo Morales
nationalized the South American country’s oil and gas industry
on May 1, giving foreign companies 180 days to sign new deals
ceding majority control of their Bolivian operations or get
out of the country.

Bolivia’s gas industry was privatized by former President Gonzalo
Sanchez de Lozada in 1996. Demands to re-nationalize Bolivia’s
natural gas reserves were at the heart of rebellions in 2003
that chased the puppet president into U.S. exile and spearheaded
the indigenous political movement that eventually propelled
Morales into the country’s leadership.

Among the companies who signed the new deals were two affiliates
of Brazilian state energy giant Petrobras, Spanish-Argentine
company Repsol YPF and Repsol’s Bolivian subsidiary, Andina.
The French company Total SA and the U.S.-based Vintage Petroleum
also signed new deals.

The new contracts with energy firms will bring Bolivia revenues
of at least $1.3 billion a year.

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Bolivia has South America’s second largest natural gas/oil reserves.
This nationalization move is in step with Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez Frias’ nationalization of the oil industry there.
It represents the growing struggle by colonized peoples around
the world to reclaim the resources that have been stolen by
U.S. and European imperialism to build the white nation at the
expense of the rest of the world’s peoples.

Morales said the petroleum nationalization would be only the
first step in his campaign to recover control of Bolivia’s natural
resources. Earlier this month, he announced plans to bring Bolivia’s
mines under State control.

Morales said, “Bolivia will not be as it was before, a beggar
State with many social problems. We will continue in this path
of recovering our natural resources, not only the hydrocarbons
but also the minerals and the non-metallics, and all nonrenewable
natural resources that belong to the Bolivian people.”


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