delooting the gas fields
While W is concerned about the "erosion of democracy in Venezuela and Bolivia", after the "nationalization" of oil and gas resources in Bolivia, some more or less unexpected allies have come to Morales' defence.
First Joseph Stiglitz, former VP of the World Bank who:
...emphasized that the failure of the neoliberal model imposed by the Washington Consensus that set out to reduce the role of the State in national economies to the minimum is evident, and underscored that Bolivia, once one of the best students of the neoliberal model, "felt all the pains (of its application) but has experienced no gains -- it's clear that it must have a change in its economic model."
In this context, Stiglitz did not wish to characterize the new energy policy of Evo Morales as nationalization, but would call it the "recovery" of Bolivia's resources, or the "return to Bolivia of a property that already was hers." Further, he indicated that Bolivia should receive a just value for the exploitation of its natural resources.
"When a person was robbed of a painting and then it is given back to him, we don't call it renationalization, but return of a property that was his to begin with," explained Stiglitz. In the same way, he questioned the existing contracts between the State of Bolivia and petro multinationals, highlighting that "in reality. there was no sale, since it was not made in accordance with laws or approval of the Congress -- where there is no property to be nationalized, there can't be nationalization."
That means that it was necessary to change the previous conditions "one way or another," added Stiglitz...
Then even more unexpectedly French President Jacques Chirac, put in a kind word for Evo:
French President Jacques Chirac said the Bolivian government's seizure of oil and gas assets would help channel more funds to the poor.
"What should be put in place -- and what I understand is the idea -- is that an agreement between the companies concerned for the sharing of profits should be more favorable to the public than is currently the case," Chirac said in an interview with Brazilian television TV Globo...
...Chirac said that he has spoken with Morales who told him the move clearly ``excludes the arbitrary seizing of assets or exclusion of the companies concerned.''
"I have much respect for Mr. Morales who, in a certain way, is showing honor to a people who need it," Chirac said in the interview with Brazilian television.
Meanwhile investment isn't drying up, as IMF credit is cut off and Bolivia responds to Bush that it is his government rather than Morales' who is a permanent threat to democracy in Latin America. (And in his own country one might add..)
In another article, Georges Monbiot points out the egregious double standards involved in Bolivia's treatment in most of the West...