Monday, May 01, 2006

Morales Nationalizes Natural Gas Industry

Evo Morales, socialist President of Bolivia, today followed in the footsteps of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez by nationalizing the country's natural gas resources. Morales will use the revenue to benefit Bolivia's impoverished citizens.

Bolivia has a long and difficult history with the privatization of natural resources. During the 1990's, conservative leaders ignored the outcries of Bolivia's poor and privatized the hydrocarbon industry, which effectively gave multinational gas giants such as British Gas and Respol free reign over Bolivia's economic future and diverted billions out of the hands of the masses.

In 1999 the World Bank coerced Bolivia's leadership into giving American corporation Bechtel a 40 year lease to all the water - even rainwater - in Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city. Water privatization tripled the water bills of 500,000 Bolivians to nearly one third of their monthly income. Protests ensued, and President Hugo Banzer was forced to backdown on the deal and deprivatize the water industry. Under Morales, Bolivia's Attorney General has even gone so far as to file charges against the former Presidents involved in privatizing Bolivian resources.

"The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources." - Evo Morales, May 1st, 2006

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has harnessed the profits of the nationalized oil company, PDVSA, to provide everything from food to education to the poor. Morales has taken the first step to alleviating rampant poverty in Bolivia, and the trend is likely to continue in other Latin American nations as the proletariat react to western corporate imperialism.