Friday, July 02, 2004

Bolivia - More Petroleum Problems. Bolivian Left Demands Nationalization of Industry

Bolivia's most powerful leftist part, Movement Toward Socialism, plans to push for immediate nationalization of gas reserves and for "popular trials" of former rulers. Bolivia has 15 percent of South America's energy reserves.

"We are going to force the government to respect the people's mandate and make sure that it's not blocked in Congress which remains controlled by parties supporting the corrupt agenda of deposed President Gonzalo Sanches de Lozada," MAS leader Evo Morales told United Press International. He is also intensifying a campaign to extradite the exiled president who currently lives in the United States. MAS members are collecting a signature petition throughout Bolivia to demand trials of the ex-president and 18 of his ministers.

MAS holds Sanchez de Lozada responsible for the deaths of 150 people during last year's rioting that led to his ouster, and for "genocide" and "mass violation of human rights" as well as "illegal deals" he is alleged to have made with multinational companies to export gas to Chile. Bolivia is still involved in a border dispute with Chile over annexed former Bolivian ports after the war of 1879.

As with other countries in Latin America, there are many more political and economic problems in Bolivia, one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere. As with other industries that employ few workers yet bring in large profits, as it's structured, the oil industry in Bolivia isn't helping the economy and gives the perception of unfair distribution of wealrh. Fewcountries that have nationalized industries have been successful in improving the lot of the citizens. The industries became stagnant and unproductive. Petroleum, though, is a sought after and prized resorce, and privatization may do well in Bolivia. One hopes that all will go well in this poor country.


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