May 02, 2008

The Government's Response?

MABB © ®

Today, as I was taking a walk through La Paz's center, I got dropped off by my taxi in front of the telecommunications company, Entel. As there seemed to be some commotion around the building, lots of people, police and others who seemed foreign nationals, I turned my attention towards it. It seemed to me they were going in to do something. At this point I had no idea what was going on. I continued my walk towards the gathering in plaza Murillo, where the government was going to celebrate the 1st May holiday. I took a look at the people gathered, noticing there weren't as many as I thought, and turned around and went back. Now, I am sorry I didn't stick around for Morales' speech.

President Morales surprised many when he announced the proclamation of 8 Decretos Supremos (supreme decrees) and one bill to regulate labor law. Among the most important DSs were the ones completing the "nationalization" process of the three major energy companies dealing with natural gas, Transredes (controlled by Ashmore and Shell), Andina (controlled by Repsol) and Chaco (controlled by Pan American Energy). Another DS ordered the taking over of DLHB (controlled by Peruvian and German investors).

The most surprising announcement was the "nationalization" of the telecommunications company Entel, which is the movement I saw. As Morales signed the DS, the company was being taken over by officials.

However, the announcement regarding the energy companies was not a total surprise. The press had already reported the government's intentions (here and here).

While the government continues its campaign "giving" gifts to the population on May 1st, the referendum in Santa Cruz continues its course.