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IW 03

Bolivia

Campaign in defence of the Bolivian revolution

FOR THE NATIONALIZATION OF OIL THROUGHOUT LATIN AMERICA

The events in Bolivia have made it very clear that the consistent struggle for the nationalization of strategic natural resources poses a social revolution. The nationalization of oil and gas, in Bolivia, is an absolute condition for its national development and at the same time it is incompatible with imperialist domination and big capital. The question of hydrocarbons is, at the same time, however, an international question. There are, at least, two international wars that are taking place for the control of that resource, in Iraq and Chechnya. Oil has been, likewise, the undisputed protagonist of the political crisis in Russia and in the former Soviet zone, such as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyztan. When it is not over control of extraction, it is over the transportation of the liquid through oil and gas pipelines. The recent crisis in the Ukraine did not end in a civil war when the so called ‘orange rebellion’ made a pact with Putin, recommended by Washington and the European Union, on the continuity of Russian gas pipelines across the Ukraine. The Palestinian question is also, at least, a question of oil, because the settlement of Zionism in the Middle East has had the goal of serving as a wedge of imperialism in the Arab world and in the Persian Gulf. The complete privatization of Bolivian oil and gas, under the government of Sánchez de Losada, forms part of a planetary pro-privatization offensive, particularly on the part of yanqui imperialism, to dismantle the oil nationalizations that took place at different stages following the last world war. The Bolivian question cannot ignore the international character of the struggle for nationalization.

In Latin America, hydrocarbons have moved to center stage for more than one reason, although the Bolivian question is the most important. In 2002 imperialism organized the two month long sabotage against Venezuela, that had, precisely, the aim of leaving intact the plans for gutting PDVSA, which continued in operations during the governments preceding Chávez. In the mid 90’s, the Menem government in Argentina, with the complicity of now president Kirchner, then governor of the oil-producing province of Santa Cruz, virtually auctioned off the YPF company, on the basis of oil valued at ten dollars a barrel. In Colombia, the defence of the privatization to the death of private oil exploitation is as important or more so than any of the other counter-insurgency goals of the State. In Ecuador, the surplus resources of the state oil company would go, until a few weeks ago, to a special fund for the payment of the foreign debt; the process was, at the same time, objectively, a way of draining the state company and completely privatizing the exploitation of the resource. In Peru, as shown by the Camisea project, the exploitation of gas and oil are coming to be a principally private enterprise. In Brazil, Petrobras, through the state, is controlled by the stock market, where its shares are sold; a quarter of its capital belongs to US funds. Independently of this, the Brazilian company emulates what was attempted in the case of PDVSA, that is, to use it as a channel for draining capital out of the country through its ‘internationalization’. Lastly, coming up is the great battle for the privatization of the Mexican [company] Pemex, which has been pushed into monstrous deficits which are a prelude to privatization. For this reason, surely, it is necessary for the center left to run Mexico, which will occur next year with López Obrador, of the PRD (although he says the contrary). Even outside of Latin America, capital’s greed for gas has increased as a consequence of the possibility of sending it in liquefied form to the United States market. This is what Peru will do from Camisea, and what was planned for Bolivia through a Chilean port.

The struggle for Bolivian resources will decide the struggle throughout Latin America. In this aspect, it is necessary to emphasize that the bourgeois experiences with nationalization in this regard and the nationalist governments have operated during the Bolivian crisis in favor of imperialism and privatization. The role of Petrobras and the Lula capitalist government against the nationalization of Bolivian hydrocarbons, is way ahead of anything the government of Bush has done. The Brazilian bourgeoisie enjoys an incomparable power of arbitration, because it influences, as nobody else does, the policy of the province of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, including its pretended secessionist movements. Petrobras was at the core of the pressures against nationalization and it was the one that enabled the political agreements that put an end to the crisis provoking the downfall of Mesa when the former decided to go along with the Bolivian new law of hydrocarbons. The same role was played by the Spanish Repsol, which does not act except in connivance with Kirchner, and Techint, which participates in the commerce of the liquid through the manufacture of seamless pipes for the pipelines, although it also has gas investments. Extortion was brought to bear against Bolivia by the Peruvian government of Toledo, who gathered together the ministers of the southern cone of the continent to discuss the possibility of Camisea substituting Bolivia in the provision of gas to Chile and Argentina. The nationalization of Bolivian oil poses, then, a continental struggle, that at the same time cannot stop short of being anything but a struggle for the complete nationalization of oil in Argentina, Perú and Brazil, and for workers administration of hydrocarbons.

The role of each one in the Bolivian crisis makes manifest the illusory character of president Chavez’ proposal for attaining the energetic independence of South America by means of an alliance of PDVSA, Petrobras and Enarsa, a monster created by Kirchner to channel national budget resources into a slush fund controlled by his bosom buddies. Chávez wants a Petrosur that skips the task of the expropriation of the oil trusts and their transformation into companies under workers administration. A recent attempt at forming Petrocaribe ended in failure over the opposition of Trinidad Tobago, surely due to demands made by the yanquis and English. Although Chávez regained national autonomy for PDVSA (which constitutes a fundamental aspect of the national content of Chavism), it is necessary to point out that the international trusts are already responsible of a third of oil production in Venezuela and which could be in charge of the exploitation of the heavy combustible of the Orinoco, on the basis of a new distillation process. A reversal in international trends in oil prices would surely put Venezuela under an even extreme dependence on the investments of foreign companies. This picture explains that Chávez has become the mentor of Evo Morales in the task of opposing the nationalization of hydrocarbons in Bolivia, to which he has counterposed controlling the trusts at the mouth of the well through an inexistent Bolivian YPF. The line of compromise with imperialism that Evo Morales has followed fits in completely with the policies of Chavez himself. But with these policies, Venezuela will not attain the afore-mentioned energetic independence of Latin America, nor Bolivia its hydrocarbons.

Once the question of the nationalization of Bolivian hydrocarbons is placed in its context, it becomes clear that a campaign for this goal must have, on the one hand, a continental and even international character, and that its content, on the other hand, cannot be anything other than nationalization of the hydrocarbons throughout Latin America and in all of its countries, understanding by this: a) the confiscation of the trusts; b) the expulsion of the capitalist gangs from the administration of the totally or partially state-owned companies ; c) workers administration and control. The appropriation of the energetic resources by the exploited of Latin America means, no more and no less, control of the means that would make possible a gigantic industrialization of Latin America. Around the nationalization of hydrocarbons throughout the continent, the goal of continental political unity itself would be put into motion, the Socialist Union of Latin America.

By Jorge Altamira