[Marxism] Oil, Gas Nationalization Key Election Issue in Bolivia

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Oct 25 02:33:57 MDT 2005

Oil, Gas Nationalization Key Election Issue in Bolivia

La Paz, Oct 24 (Prensa Latina) The main issues in Sunday"s TV debate
between leading Bolivian vice-presidential candidates were clearly
the nationalization of hydrocarbons and neoliberal economic policies.

These topics marked the difference between MAS (Movimiento al
Socialism), party of indigenous leader and poll favorite Evo Morales,
and Podemos (Poder Democrático Social) that of ex President Jorge
Quiroga, as expressed by their respective running-mates, Alvaro
Garcia and Maria Renee Duchen.

Garcia said that for MAS, the priority of the government will be
returning oil and gas resources to benefit the people, while Duchen
proposed respecting the "rights" of the transnational corporations
now running them.

The well-known academic explained that nationalization of the
hydrocarbons simply means changing the present, disadvantageous
contracts with the giant corporations to contracts that will
guarantee reasonable use.

At the same time, MAS will give the State and state corporation
decision-making power over oil operations, prices, exports,
industrialization and other key activities.

The MAS plan, Garcia explained, would generate employment in the
entire country and a national gas network for homes, at the same time
it would keep an eye out for legal or contractual violations of the

MAS intends that income from the new regulations will be the base of
a new national productive economic model to replace Neoliberalism.

Duchen maintained that Podemos proposes a more relevant role for the
State, such as subsidizing basic services.

As far as highway blockades, occupying land and other forms of
protests, Duchen defended repression and order, while Garcia
prioritized solving the social problems that motivate the
demonstrations; viewing the protests as a symptom, not the disease.

In international policy, the Podemos candidate reiterated alliance
with the United States and said her party has more credibility with
organizations like the International Monetary Fund.

The progressive candidate meanwhile advocated relations of mutual
respect with Washington and the IMF, but without allowing
interference in Bolivia´s sovereign affairs or giving them
decision-making power in internal matters, as happens in neoliberal


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