Evo nationalizes four electric companies in Bolivia

On May 1st, 2010 President Evo Morales nationalized three electric companies in Bolivia and one distributor in Cochabamba, with the explanation that he is doing so in homage to Bolivian workers. (May 1st is Labor Day in Bolivia). Corani and Valle Hermoso in Cochabamba, and Guaracachi in Santa Cruz are the generators that, along with Elfec of Cochabamba, will now belong to the Bolivian government. Shortly after (the announcement) police and military operatives took control of the Elfec (Empresa de Luz y Fuerza Eléctrica Cochabamba) facilities yesterday.

Fernando Vincenti, Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy, sustained that the government measure puts an end to the "destructive and macabre neoliberal" process in the country. Although over 400 Elfec employees are holding a vigil inside the facilities, the police broke locks, forced open the gates, and entered to peacefully evict the workers.

"This is an outrage and I think it's unfair that they are doing this, we are very worried", said the leader of the Elfec workers federation. The president of Elfec, Ángel Valenzuela, stated that he was very worried because the company's executive personnel are highly trained. "It isn't easy to find such personnel. When Comteco took over the shareholder package not a single executive was (changed) because they are highly valuable technicians. Considering Supreme Decree 0494, it seems they will be no less than fired", stated Valenzuela.

"The State has a "quote unquote" nationalization policy. We don't believe this is a nationalization because nationalization is for taking concrete actions in defense of national patrimony against international companies," said Valenzuela. Finally, he commented that the Comteco cooperative is the only one that pays dividends annually at the national scale.

The Government promises to lower prices

President Evo Morales stated yesterday that the price of electricity would be reduced by 20% in the city of Cochabamba and rural areas of the department, after nationalizing four electric companies.

"Through Supreme Decree 494 we recover Elfec S.A. for Cochabamba and for Bolivia. The people know that this company used to belong to the government and we have the obligation and mandate to recover it", he emphasized.

In his speech he also guaranteed job stability for the workers of all four companies; however, employees of the Cochabamba entity marched to reject this government action, which they qualify as a "dictatorship". They announced that they are in a state of emergency and that as of Monday they would begin hunger strikes.

This is a translation of portions of an article found in Spanish here:


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