What to do with the precious reserves of natural gas has been on the minds of Bolivians ever since their discovery. Recently, the governments of Bolivia and Argentina arrived at an agreement for Bolivia to sell gas to their neighbor to the south for the next twenty years at a price of $5 per million BTU, which would mean significant revenues for the country. Carlos Gustavo Machicado Salas of Guccio’s World [ES] said that the new deal was very effective from a political point of view after the disappointing halt to the hydrocarbons nationalization. Even though those on both sides of the political spectrum applaud the deal, there are still certain cautionary details to monitor, such as the supposed role of a foreign state company, Energía Argentina Sociedad Anónima (ENARSA).
Martin Gutierrez, a Bolivian studying in Argentina thinks the new deal was good for both President Evo Morales and President Nestor Kirchner. Both have been on the receiving end of rumblings in their respective countries, but Gutierrez wrote that this gas deal allowed both to take a breath. His blog is called Vitrina de la Realidad Boliviana [ES].
Es por eso que la firma del nuevo contrato de gas, les dio un respiro a ambos presidentes: primero por que ambos necesitaban esa foto que pueda darse como buena noticia. Segundo, por que el apoyo mutuo sirvió para que en ambos países la temperatura política baje y tercero, poder darle a los medios titulares donde la incapacidad de manejar a las bases sindicales no sea tema del día.
This new gas contract gave both presidents a chance to take a breath: both needed that photograph as a bit of good news. Second, the mutual support served both countries so that the political temperature lowered and third, it gave a bit of news to the media so that the governments’ incapacity to control the syndical movements was no longer the top story.
Many have wondered whether it might be possible, even with stipulations that exist, that Argentina could turn around and sell the Bolivian gas to their neighbor, Chile. Many Bolivians do not want to sell gas to Chile based on the long-standing conflict over the access to the sea. La Columna Robada’s [ES] Sergio Molina Monasterios, a Bolivian blogger, who has spent time in Chile links to a new poll that states that only 1/3 of Chileans do not want to provide sovereign access to Bolivia. However, 47% believe that some sort of economic benefit should be given to Bolivia to export their goods, yet only 13% believe that a piece of territory with access to the sea should be given to Bolivia.
Up next on the docket will be the renegotiation of contracts with Bolivia’s largest investor Brazil. The deadline to renegotiate these contracts falls on October 30 and is fast approaching. Even though Petrobras has threatened to pull out altogether, there is still a need for Bolivia’s gas. Many are looking at the new price that was signed between the countries of Bolivia and Argentina as a reference point for the sale to Brazil. However, the upcoming elections in Brazil have made this dispute part of the political campaigns. It has also affected how some Brazilians look at some Bolivian immigrants. Sergio Asturizaga currently lives in Sampa, Brazil and says that there are generally two types of Bolivian immigrants in Brazil, as he writes in his blog, Así Como Me Ves Me Tienes [ES]: “One type is the health professionals, such as doctors or dentists, which there are many of, the other are the ones that sew.” The latter are the ones that are often exploited and suffer at the hands of others.
los otros que son itinerantes, ósea van y vienen, trabajan en faenas casi explotadas por ellos mismos, son los que mas sufren pues no tienen ningún tipo de seguridad industrial adecuada, ni ninguna norma de trabajo, son totalmente explotados por coreanos y lo mas lamentable por bolivianos, ahora bien, estos últimos son los que además de sufrir tanto, son los mas visualizados como bolivianos y son los que mas agresiones sufren en las calles de san pablo, y a los que mas se atacaron en la época de la nacionalización de los hidrocarburos.
(They) are itinerant, they come and go, and work in tasks and often exploited by others like them. They are the ones that suffer the most because they do not count on appropriate industrial security or work regulations. They are often exploited by Koreans and the saddest part is that now they, in addition to suffering a lot, they are the ones most seen as Bolivians and are the ones that suffer aggressions in the streets of Sao Paulo. They are the ones that were attacked during the time of the nationalization of hydrocarbons.
The decisions on the future of the hydrocarbons of Bolivia are not necessarily limited to the decisions of one country, and as we can see involves the opinions and actions of many of its neighbors.