[Marxism] Forwarded from David Schanoes

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Apr 22 13:28:51 MDT 2006


FT 4/22

Bolivia expels Brazilian steel group
By Hal Weitzman in Lima and Jonathan Wheatley in São Paulo
Published: April 22 2006 00:07 | Last updated: April 22 2006 00:07

Bolivia has ordered a Brazilian steelmaker to leave the country, the
first expulsion of a foreign investor since Evo Morales, the leftwing
president, took office in January.

The government’s action is intended to settle a power struggle between
the Morales administration in La Paz and local interests in the
south-eastern Amazon region that resulted in the kidnapping of three
cabinet ministers and the closure of the international border.

The government said EBX had failed to secure environmental permission to
build a $148m (€120m, £83m) pig-iron plant at Puerto Suarez, about
1,120km south-east of La Paz on the border with Brazil. It also said the
plant violated a ban on foreign companies operating within 50km of
Bolivia’s borders.

“The decision is firm. A company that does not respect the law has to
leave,” said Vice-President Álvaro García.

“EBX has not, and they are also encouraging conflict between Bolivians,”
he added. EBX denied breaking any laws, claiming its Bolivian subsidiary
had complied with all regulations, including those covering investments
in a tax-free zone near the border designed for exporting companies.

The dispute comes as the government continues to negotiate with
international investors in the gas sector, the second largest in the
region...

...By attempting to have the last word on the EBX affair, the government
hopes to send a message to foreign investors that it is not afraid to
take a hard line, and to local opponents that it will not cave in to
protest.

The EBX dispute has brought to the boil a long-simmering dispute between
local leaders and La Paz. The plant is located in the department of
Santa Cruz, a stronghold of Bolivia’s right wing and a region in which
Mr Morales does not have strong support.

Local civic committees have called an indefinite strike and set up
roadblocks until EBX is granted permission to operate.

They called on Mr Morales “to govern for all Bolivians” and said the
government had “left hundreds of Bolivians without jobs, without
employment and livelihood for their families, and has generated an
economic depression in this region”.





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