Bolivia: When Nationalization is Not Enough

As the violent course of events calmed down in the city of Cochabamba, another conflict emerged in the city of Camiri, located in the southeastern part of Bolivia known as the Gran Chaco. The population was protesting that the hydrocarbons nationalization announced by President Evo Morales last May had not gone far enough. Since most of the area’s economy depends on this industry, groups took to the streets and attempted to enter some of the facilities of the state-run petroleum company Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB).

Mario Duran of the blog Palabras Libres provides a summary of what some in the Bolivian blogosphere says about this decision and the subsequent consequences. Duran provides this contribution to the Global Voices Online weekly Bolivian blog summary.

Without a doubt, what happened in the city of Camiri was the dominant topic of discussion in relation to the social events of Bolivia. Willy Andres compared the demands of Camiri with what the Morales administration offered:

Las demandas de Camiri- Exigen al Gobierno consolidar presupuestos y condiciones para que funcione la Gerencia Nacional de Exploración y Explotación de YPFB.
– Recuperar los campos cerrados y marginales del país, que no tuvieron inversión para ser operados.
– Promover y apoyar la industrialización de los hidrocarburos a partir de las regiones productoras para consolidar una política energética en la provincia Cordillera.
– Promover la recompra de las refinerías de Santa Cruz y Cochabamba, por ser estratégicas para el control y abastecimiento interno de los productos derivados del petróleo.

The demands of Camiri
-Pressure the government into consolidating budgets and ensuring conditions so that the Management of the Exploration and Exploitation of YPFB and operate
-Restore the closed and marginal fields of the country that did not have the investment necessary to operate
-Promote and support the industrialization of the hydrocarbons in the productive regions in order to consolidate an energy policy in the Cordillera province.
-Promote the purchase of the Santa Cruz and Cochabamba refineries because of their strategic position in the control and internal supply of petroleum-derived products.

The blog Palabras Libres [ES] describes a report he heard on the Erbol radio broadcast.

Una señora con lagrimas señalaba que. “no vamos a retroceder en la lucha”. Camiri que esta en estribaciones de la serrania esta cubierta de gases. Un representante de la Asamblea del Pueblo Guarani (APG) se pregunta: ¿Cómo un gobierno indígena va a reprimir asi a sus hermanos?. Se siguen escuchando disparos, la gente se dispersa, pero las barricadas siguen de pie y la gente no retrocede. Un intelectual pregunta: ¿es este el dialogo a balas que nos ofrece Evo Morales?

A woman with tears in her eyes said, “we will not go backwards in the fight.” Camiri is located in the foothills of the mountains where the gas is plentiful. A representative of the Guaraní Peoples Assembly asked, “How could an indigenous government repress its own brothers like that? You can still hear shots being fired and the people are dispersing, but the barricades remain standing and the people are not retreating. An intellectual asks, “is this the dialogue with bullets that Evo Morales offers?”

The blog Autonomia Ya! [ES] Publisher text griten by the engineer Jironda, who analyzes the need to depoliticize YPFB.

Lo que ahora queda es darle al sistema una sostenibilidad adecuada, buscando mas mercados para nuestros recursos naturales no renovables y por otro lado profundizar la exploración. Acordémonos que si tomamos mas mercados de gas natural y/o gas natural líquido, las inversiones van a llegar, lo estamos viendo con la firma de los contratos. Este es un gran desafío para YPFB, que insistimos debe despolitizarse, ya que solo con una cabeza política, podrá cumplir a cabalidad el plan del Ejecutivo, YPFB es y debe ser una empresa comercial, basada en un sustento técnico muy importante, solo esta forma de trabajo podrá colocar a YPFB a nivel de muchas transnacionales.

What remains to be done is to provide an adequate sustainability by looking for more markets for our natural, non-renewable resources, and to increase exploration. If we acquire more markets for the natural gas or liquid natural gas, more investment will come, as we are seeing with the signed contracts. This is a great challenge for YPFB, and we insist that it should be depoliticized, and that with only one head can the plan of the government be fulfilled. It should be a commercial enterprise based on technical expertise. Only with this model, can YPFB be placed on the level of other multinational companies.

Hugo Miranda of Angel Caido [ES] reflects on the quality of professionals in YPFB.

Para negociar contra el Ejercito de abogados, ingenieros, economistas, etc, y mas profesionales que tiene PETROBRAS S.A. para que sus negocios anden bien, no solo en Bolivia sino en el mundo entero, se necesita profesionales a la altura y lastimosamente esos profesionales bolivianos que podrian dar algo de batalla no son del MAS (requisito indispensable para entrar a cualquier cargo publico) o se encuentran ya dando todo su conocimiento a alguna Transnacional puesto que lo que te paga cualquiera de estas Transnacionales es realmente lo que vales y ademas te paga para que le hagas ganar dinero no para derrocharlo

In order to negotiate against the army of lawyers, engineers, economists and other professionals that PETROBRAS S.A. has to ensure that its business goes well, not only in Bolivai, but in the entire world, one needs that level of professionals. Unfortunately, the Bolivian professionals that could contribute something to battle are not from the MAS political party (an indispensable requirement to enter in any public position) or they are already contributing their knowledge to a multinational company that already pays what you are worth. In addition, they pay you in order to make them money not to bring them down.

In addition to adding his thoughts on the amount of professionals in this important industry, Miranda includes his own stick-figure drawing comparing Bolivian professionals in YPFB as kindergarteners and their rival Brazilian counterparts.

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