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  HOME | Bolivia

Bolivian Labor Leader Calls for More Nationalizations

LA PAZ – The executive-secretary of the COB, Bolivia’s largest labor federation, is calling on the government to fully nationalize all sectors of the Andean nation’s economy.

In an interview with EFE, Guido Mitma said the mining, manufacturing and hydrocarbon sectors should be fully state-owned to ensure the country’s natural resources “benefit all of the country’s workers.”

Nevertheless, socialist President Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state, has said the government has no plans for further nationalizations after expropriating more than 20 companies in a range of sectors, including hydrocarbons, electricity, airport management and telecommunications, since 2006.

Morales has always hailed the significance of the 2006 fossil-fuel “nationalization,” which gave state-owned energy firm YPFB participation in every phase of the natural gas supply chain.

A dozen private companies, including Brazil’s Petrobras, Spain’s Repsol, Britain’s BG Group plc and France’s Total, continue to operate in Bolivia through minority partnerships with YPFB.

But the government has rejected calls to nationalize mining companies, saying such a move would be too costly.

In recent weeks, the COB has organized its biggest anti-government protests in four years to reject the shuttering of state-owned textile company Enatex.

The government said the shutdown, which has left nearly 1,000 people out of work, was necessary because the company was financially unviable.

Although the COB was seeking greater turnout for its strike actions, Mitma said “the people have mobilized in the nine regions” and added that protests would have been bigger but the government realized what was happening in time.

“We workers haven’t definitively ended our march. We’re in a state of emergency,” Mitma said, referring to the pause in the protests while talks with the government on Enatex and other demands are ongoing.

 

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