LA PAZ – Residents of the eastern Bolivian border town of San Matias have threatened to occupy a natural gas facility and cut off the flow of that fuel to Brazil if authorities do not immediately address their concerns about high electricity prices.
The president of the San Matias Civic Committee, Walter Nuñez, told El Deber radio Friday that area residents would occupy the San Jose de la Frontera natural gas station, which regulates the flow of Bolivian gas to Cuiaba, Brazil, if the government did not hold talks with local residents in the coming hours.
Residents of the town, located some 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the eastern city of Santa Cruz, are angry that they pay much higher electricity rates than other areas even though a nationalized company provides the service.
“A meeting failed yesterday (Thursday) ... that’s why we’ve given until Friday to resolve the electricity hike. Otherwise, we’ll shut the valves” of a gas pipeline, Nuñez warned.
He said San Matias residents paid the highest electricity rates in the Andean nation.
Besides threatening to shut off gas exports to Brazil, the local residents also have occupied a power plant and set up roadblocks.
Bolivia ships 2 million cubic meters (70.4 million cubic feet) of natural gas per day to Cuiaba, El Deber reported, citing figures from state-owned energy company YPFB.
Natural gas exports to Brazil and Argentina are a major source of hard currency for Bolivia.