Bolivia and its Gas

One Man Uses Gas And Oil Money To Help The Poor. The Other Uses It To Buy Guns. Guess Who Gets Vilified, by George Monbiot on ZNet, May 16, 2006.

Excerpt: … Civilisation has a new enemy. He is a former coca grower called Evo Morales, who is currently the president of Bolivia. Yesterday he stood before the European parliament to explain why he had sent troops to regain control of his country’s gas and oil fields. Bolivia’s resources, he says, have been “looted by foreign companies”(1), and he is reclaiming them for the benefit of his people. Last week he told the summit of Latin American and European leaders in Vienna that the corporations which have been extracting the country’s fossil fuels would not be compensated for these seizures.

You can probably guess how this has gone down. Tony Blair urged him to use his power responsibly(2), which is like Mark Oaten lecturing the Pope on sexual continence. Condoleezza Rice accused him of “demagoguery”(3). The Economist announced that Bolivia was “moving backwards”(4). The Times, in a marvellously haughty leader, called Morales “petulant”, “xenophobic” and “capricious” and labelled his seizure of the gas fields “a gesture as childish as it eye-catching”(5).

Never mind that the privatisation of Bolivia’s gas and oil in the 1990s was almost certainly illegal, as it took place without the consent of Congress(6). Never mind that – until now – its natural wealth has only impoverished its people(7). Never mind that Morales had promised to regain national control of Bolivia’s natural resources before he became president, and that the policy has massive support among Bolivians. It can’t be long before Donald Rumsfeld calls him the new Hitler and Bush makes another speech about freedom and democracy being threatened by freedom and democracy …

(Read the whole article of May 16, 2006 on this page of ZNet).

Comments are closed.