- Created: Wednesday, 06 May 2009 11:32
- Written by Fiona Donovan & Robert Clough
The struggle of the impoverished Bolivian people for control of their lives and resources continues.
On 23 September, tens of thousands commemorated the first eight men, women and children murdered by heavily armed state forces in the Gas War last September/October. The mass uprising was so named because nationalisation of Bolivia’s natural gas, its most lucrative and sizable resource, was central to the people’s demands. No one responsible for the murder of 63 civilians during the three weeks’ uprising has been brought to justice. Ousted millionaire president Sánchez de Lozada resides alongside other Latin American terrorists in the safety of Miami. Other demands of the uprising included
- An end to neoliberal policies, especially cuts in state welfare and privatisations
- No free trade agreements with the US
- An end to forced coca eradication
- Land reform
Following the Referendum on Gas in July which 60% of the voting population boycotted, President Carlos Mesa has been drawing up a new Law of Hydrocarbons. Repsol, the Spanish oil company that owns 23% of Bolivia’s natural gas reserves, was confident that the new law would not affect its interests. However, as a precaution, it threatened Bolivia’s Congress with sanctions if it did not toe the line. The company also joined Petrobras (Brazilian), British Petroleum, TotalFinaElf, Enron-Shell and British Gas in ensuring the law did not change their existing contracts or increase their taxation. Congress’s Mixed Commission of Economic Development warned that Mesa’s proposed new law will lose the Bolivian state $US 130 million per year.