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The story behind Bolivia's gas nationalization

Much, much more fascinating than it sounds...
 
 
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Great story from Franz Chávez at IPS News:

When [Evo] Morales reached the doors of the San Alberto gas plant, controlled until that day by Brazil's state-owned oil giant Petrobras, the smiling employees asked which part of the gas field or facilities he wanted to visit. But the president had not come for a visit. He had come to seize control of the installations and the gas fields.

A day earlier another army, but this time of oil engineers, had moved quietly through the gas fields and plants on the pretext of carrying out inspections and controls, although in larger numbers than usual. "New technicians are accompanying the old ones to gain experience on the ground," the engineers told the guards and watchmen at the foreign oil companies, to allay any suspicions.

The aim of the secret mission by the oil industry technicians was to take emergency action in case the companies decided to respond to the nationalisation by cutting off energy supplies.

The little-known story behind the events of May 1 was related to IPS by one of the six strategists responsible for the secret plan, Manuel Morales Olivera, general adviser to Bolivia's state-owned oil company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB). Morales Olivera is the son of lawyer Manuel Morales Dávila, who spent 42 days in prison in 1996 after accusing then president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada of betraying the fatherland by privatising the energy industry.

Chavez interviews Olivera in the rest of the article, where the thinking behind the nationalization is explained.

*Also as long as we are talking about populist revivals, check out this truly excellent book review of "The Power Elite," by C. Wright Mills.

Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.