Cuba and Venezuela support Bolivia's gas nationalization

Campaign News | Wednesday, 3 May 2006

The looting is over says Evo Morales

MEXICO CITY, 2 May (Xinhua) - Cuba and Venezuela voiced their support on Tuesday for Bolivia's decision to nationalize its energy assets, reports reaching here said.

Granma, the ruling Cuban communist party's official newspaper, reported the news with a headline: "The looting is over -- Evo Morales."

The top story echoed Bolivian President Evo Morale's statement on Monday when he signed a decree on the nationalization.

"From this moment, the looting of our natural resources by foreign companies will end," Morales said at a signing ceremony.

Radio Reloj, a round-the-clock broadcaster, emphasized the "great jubilation" that the measure triggered among Bolivians.

In Caracas, Venezuelan Foreign Trade Minister Gustavo Marquez said Venezuela will support Bolivia due to the experience it has on similar issues.

"Venezuela will help Bolivia move forward and build its own path so that it can manage its natural resources in a truly free and self-determined way," Marquez said.

The nationalization would be positive because "they are taking on their new historical role... taking possession of their own natural resources," he added.

Marquez said Bolivia's fuel resources had ended up in private hands because of a neo-liberal vision of economic development, but now Bolivia was taking its first steps to rescue its resources so that they could be used for the nation's well-being and development.

In Bogota, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said his country "completely respects" the Bolivian act of "national self-determination."

"We have to be completely respectful of the sovereign decision taken by the government and people of Bolivia," Uribe said.

In a decree issued on Monday, which marked the International Labor Day and his 100th day in office as Bolivia's president, Morales gave foreign energy companies 180 days to sign new contracts with the country.

Under the new contracts, foreign companies will remain as operators, but no longer in charge of productions, while the Bolivian state-owned firms become the majority shareholder.

A typical contract would give 82 percent of the profits to Bolivia's state oil company YPFB, in which 50 percent would be royalties, 32 percent to pay the YPFB, and the remaining 18 percent to its foreign partners.

Morales, who took office in January as Bolivia's first indigenous president, has repeatedly said his country's natural resources must be nationalized so that Bolivians could benefit from the profits that are sent overseas

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