Bolivia: The end of the great reform
Nationalization has been completed in an exemplary manner
From APM Staff (Mercosur Press Agency)
The nationalization of hydrocarbons in Bolivia has culminated and the process
may be described as exemplary. The oil corporations relented their initial
positions, agreed to the new rules imposed by President Evo Morales, and the 44
contracts with the 12 oil companies that operate in Bolivia were ratified by
Congress in La Paz.
In the words of the
leader of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), the corporations now have the
legal security they never had throughout the nation's history, because until
Dec. 3 oil contracts were made only between the Executive Power and the
In this regard, Morales
will meet before Christmas with the executives of the 12 oil companies with
which his administration signed new contracts to establish the investments
promised by the companies for the period 2007-2010.
The announcement was made at a press conference in La Paz by Hydrocarbons
Minister Carlos Villegas, who said the meeting will be held Dec. 20-23 in the
Villegas added that the President's intention is to specify the amounts of
investment the foreign companies promised, both for the exploration activities
and the exploitation of hydrocarbons. In addition, Morales wants the companies
to agree to initiate their operations "at once," so Bolivia may soon count on
additional volumes of natural gas and crude oil.
On Dec. 3, the Legislative Branch enacted into law the accords reached, thus
closing the cycle the began May 1 with the nationalization of the natural
resources. All that remains is for the accords to be recorded as protocol by
means of the Executive Power's notarized registration. According to Minister
Villegas, this process will end in three weeks; after that, the application and
implementation of the contracts begin.
The new accords were signed last October by subsidiaries of the Brazilian
company Petrobras, Repsol-YPF of Spain and its subsidiary Andina, the
French-Belgian company TotalFinaElf, and British Gas, among others.
The minister of hydrocarbons said the state-owned Fiscal Oil Fields of Bolivia (YPFB)
is forming a team to follow up and guarantee compliance with the accords.
Villegas said it is necessary to carry out a major restructuring of the oil
sector, because the current institutions still have "the imprimatur of the
recent years of neoliberalism" and "are not up to par" with the new philosophy
Meanwhile, Chile advances in its integration to the Southern Common Market (Mercosur)
and is discussing the service sector with its partners. "We have a very relevant
trade with Mercosur and now the opportunity arises to add an additional pillar
to our Commercial Accord if we go deeper on the subject of services," said
Carlos Furche, director general of international economic relations, or Direcon.
The negotiating teams
from Chile and Mercosur met on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in Brasília, the capital of
Brazil, during the fourth round of meetings of the ad-hoc group that seeks to
liberalize the trade in services, within the framework of the Economic
Complementation Accord (ACE No. 35).
"Latin America is the natural horizon for our trade in services. Therefore, for
us it is very important to have a market open to areas such as professional
services, retail, transport, distribution, tourism and technological services,
among others," said Furche
Slowly but very surely, Morales is accomplishing his plan of government, despite
the attacks from local and foreign neoconservatives. From now on, instead of the
current US$300 million a year it receives for its hydrocarbon production, the
State will receive US$1.2 billion and will devote much of that money to social
programs. This, in the country with the lowest income in South America's
southern cone. Natural resources will help reverse this situation.