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IW 05

Bolivia

Why Chavez opposes the nationalization of hydrocarbon reserves

 

In Bolivia rumor has it that the new government will not be able —nor should be able-- to expropriate the oil and gas conglomerates that pillage the nation; on the contrary, they are obliged to reach an “understanding” with them. The reason given is that Bolivia cannot count on either the technology nor the necessary resources to exploit the existing reserves or to discover other new ones. Not only Evo Morales but any Bolivian government, in the foreseeable future, would be obliged to “live together” with the imperialist oil companies. One of those who most promotes this position is Hugo Chavez.

The rumor leaves out one fundamental fact: in the world it is not only the Repsol or the Total that exist; state-owned oil companies also exist. A Bolivian state-owned company, which re-appropriates the oil and gas reserves, could league together with the state-run Latin American oil companies —such as PDVSA or Petrobras-- in order to exploit, in common, the resources of Latin America. The state-run companies of Venezuela and Brazil could surely contribute to the state-run Bolivian company the technology (and even the initial financing) so that Bolivia could emancipate itself from the pillaging of the private companies. But those who oppose this are precisely Venezuela and Brazil.

Why are Lula and Chavez, PDVSA and Petrobras opposed to the expropriation of the conglomerates in Bolivia and anticipate that they will not collaborate with YPFB should those conglomerates be expropriated? Because if they collaborate with a YPFB which has expropriated the multinationals, it would be placing at risk its own business deals with them.

Through different routes, PDVSA and Petrobras have been turned into channels of partnership with big international oil interests. Petrobras is privatized; a part of its capital belongs to investment funds; its policies are managed by the Stock Exchange. PDVSA, for its part, has established a partnership contract with Repsol for the exploitation of the Orinoco basin; this contract is the model with which the government of Chavez has the intention of adjusting all concessions to foreign companies, which already extract 30% of Venezuelan production (a proportion which continues to grow systematically).

The project of Petrosur, the trust of South American state-run oil companies which Chavez is promoting, suggests partnership with foreign capital. For this reason it rejects a YPFB which at some point expropriates the conglomerates, but welcomes the Argentine Enarsa, which is nothing more than a screen for the sellout of the Argentine Sea to Repsol.

In function of these interests, Chávez, Lula and Kirchner are intervening as a counterrevolutionary factor in the Bolivian crisis.