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Thursday, June 01, 2006

US Conspiracy Gets Bolivian Attention

US Conspiracy Gets Bolivian Attention
La Paz, May 31 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian President Evo Morales´ call to the people to be alert for a foreign plot against the government got everyone´s attention Wednesday, especially with the revelation of old US plans to assassinate the president.
Morales said he recently learned that some years ago the US organized “teams to persecute and kill Evo Morales,” but said they “cannot do it now with the people organized to stop them.”
The leader expressed his confidence in the truth spoken by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who affirmed that the Bush attacks on Bolivian democracy serve as a green light for a military takeover.
In response to this, high-level Bolivian military commanders ratified their loyalty to the Constitution and the president on Monday.
The statesman attributed the conspiracy to those who have historically favored privatization and handing over of natural resources to transnationals, and those sectors affected by the changes in process in Bolivia, such as the parceling out of unused land among poor farmer.
A network of 30 community radio stations have been installed in rural areas all over the country, he announced, and there will soon be a TV network as well, as an alternative to the private media hostile to the change process in Bolivia.

Bolivia Govt Outlaws Landowner Gangs

La Paz, May 31 (Prensa Latina) The Bolivian government has declared that violent groups created at a meeting of businessmen in La Paz to oppose the nation´s land policy are illegal and actions will be taken against them.
Coordination with Social Movement Minister Alfredo Rada said those violent groups are antidemocratic and practically criminals, so the administration must examine which appropriate measures to take if they really start to operate.
Rada said there was no need to appeal to violence since the government has respected legal estates and the police will prevent people from seizing those.
Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia asserted they are seeking consensus on a series of decrees to expedite revision of property legality and its economic and social use.
Garcia said the government willingness for discussion will have a two-to-three month deadline, which will be followed by President Evo Morales´ decisions on agrarian policy.
Morales has condemned the landowners´ stance and said the people were the absolute owners of the country and land used for speculation will also be distributed.
Under the Constitution and existing legislation, landowners who do not meet those parameters must handover their lands to the states for distribution to poor farmers, with priority to farmers´ unions.
Landowners want their properties to be legalized for possession and plans to use them, and payment of minimum taxes.
During the next five years, the new land policy will provide poor farmers with lands with unpaid taxes, those left idle and those illegally possessed.

Evo Morales Highlights Cuban Solidarity

Escoma, Bolivia, May 30 (Prensa Latina) President of Bolivia Evo Morales praised Cuba’s solidarity effort in helping his nation.
At Tuesday´s opening ceremony of a hospital donated by Cuba, Morales said it is admirable that, despite being US-blockaded for more than 40 years, the Island offers solidarity support to Bolivia and many other countries.
“Sooner or later, when we are out of the economic crisis,” the Bolivian leader said, “we have to support the Cuban people, too.”
Earlier Cuban Ambassador Rafael Dausa ratified his country’s full support to the Bolivian process of changes and its leader, and reiterated that another 19 such health facilities will be inaugurated by late June.
Morales rejected attacks by traditional parties alleging the presence of foreign military forces in Bolivia. He said the only troops from abroad are the Cuban doctors, who have come to save lives.
He highlighted the difference between the labor of the Island’s health professionals, who have treated more than half a million patients and operated on more than 12,000, and the US forces, which were received years before to crush and kill the people.

Morales defends cooperation with Cuba and Venezuela

La Paz, May 29 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian President Evo Morales defended his country´s cooperation with Cuba and Venezuela in light of criticism by US conservative elements, whom he called "llok´allas" (servile).
The Bolivian statesman used the indigenous pejorative to describe traditional parties that are questioning the collaboration agreements Bolivia signed on Friday within the framework of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).
Morales noted that the presence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage in La Paz on Friday illustrates the two countries´ support for Bolivia to strengthen Latin American integration based on ALBA and the Trade Agreements of the Peoples (TCP).

Bolivia Foreign Investments Highlighted

La Paz, May 29 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian Planning Minister Carlos Villegas emphasized the important investments in Bolivia by India and Venezuela, which contradict those talking about this country´s “uncertain economic future”, he said.
According to the minister, in the mining sector alone, India´s Jintall Steel & Power outbid four other foreign companies interested in the iron deposit in Mutun, near the frontier with Brazil.
The enterprise winning the Mutun contract will have to produce 1.4 million metric tons of sheet steel which, besides providing significant employment will mean establishing an iron and steel industry in Bolivia for the first time.
The soon-to-be-signed contract will allow the exploitation of the important reserve for 40 years, without possibilities for extension, and the Bolivian state will assume control once the term has expired.
Jintall representative Juan Mogrovejo confirmed that the company intends to invest over 1.5 billion dollars, build a gas pipeline to supply fuel to the steel plant, as well as other complementary installations.
Questioned on the collaboration agreements with Venezuela, Villegas referred to the creation of the bi-national Southern Mining Enterprise (MINESUR) and its great perspectives for integration of other countries, as part of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas.
Villegas highlighted, “we are also reorientating the Bolivian economy to provide major possibilities and technological capacities to small producers both rurally and in cities.”

Military Loyal to Evo in Bolivia

La Paz, May 29 (Prensa Latina) A foreign coup plot, denounced by Bolivian President Evo Morales, hit head-on with the military´s loyalty to the president, Army Commander Gen. Freddy Bersatti proclaimed publicly.
The military chief made the position clear on the weekly "Alo presidente" broadcast, a dialogue Venezuelan President Chavez holds with the people and that was transmitted this time from the pre-Colombian ruins of Tiwanaku, near the border with Peru.
Referring to the conspiracy, Bersatti expressed respect and support for Evo Morales, as well as for Latin American unity.
Earlier, Chavez had warned that Washington has begun to incite Bolivian soldiers against Morales, and accused US Ambassador to Bolivia David Greenlee of being the leader of the coup plot.
According to Chavez, Bush gave the green light to a conspiracy to overthrow Morales by declaring an alleged deterioration of Bolivian democracy.
Morales has declared he is not afraid of conspirators and is ready to face them to return dignity to Bolivia and advance toward recovery of all natural resources.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Morales plans US$1.5bn investment in hwys over next 5 years

By Eva

Bolivia, May 23, 2006 - Bolivian President Evo Morales has met with the heads of the country's regional governments to discuss a US$1.5bn investment plan for highways, which are one of the Andean nation's top priorities, roads service planning director Andrés Castro told BNamericas.

The US$1.5bn investment plan will be carried out over the next five years, he said.
The monetary resources for such investment will come from the national treasury, as well as from international cooperation, which includes loans and donations, Castro said.

"The total investment could double if the country decides to spend some of the earnings from oil and gas resources" from the recently nationalized hydrocarbons sector, he added. Such a decision depends on the complete consensus of authorities, including the president, department heads and congress, he said.

Authorities already expect a number of loans and international collaboration agreements to be approved this year, which add up to US$301mn, according to Castro.

Funding expected this year includes a US$140mn loan from the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) for the construction of the Tarija-Villamontes highway and 18mn euros (US$22mn) from the Italian government for the construction of the Toledo-Ancaravi highway.
A loan of up to US$35mn - depending on the final results of the project's financial study - is expected to be approved by CAF in June for the construction of the Riberalta-Guayaramerín highway. The organization is also due to approve a US$108mn loan by year-end for the construction of the Cotagaita-Tupiza highway.

Authorities will call for international bidding processes for the construction of each of these highways, Castro said, adding that the call for tenders will be made once the corresponding authorities approve the loans.

The Bolivian government signed a US$25mn loan agreement with CAF this week for the construction of the last stretch (Huachacalla-Pisiga) of an international highway connecting Bolivia to Chile.

Bolivia-Handing-Out-Land Story

By FIONA SMITH, Associated Press Writer

ASUBI, Bolivia Mon May 22 2006 (AP) — Victor Valverde has farmed other people's land since he was 8. Now 49, he dreams of having just enough of his own to feed his family.

Valverde might get it under an ambitious effort proposed by President Evo Morales, who says he will make good on more than 50 years of land reform promises by successive Bolivian leaders.

By month's end, his government hopes to start redistributing as much as 54,000 square miles of unfarmed land to the poor. The plots, many of them unused state land and most in the fertile eastern lowlands, add up to nearly 8 percent of this nation that is nearly eight times bigger than New York state.

Arable land that isn't being used productively has been subject to redistribution for more than a decade under Bolivian law. But relatively few poor have benefited, largely because the inefficient justice system hasn't been able to untangle title disputes often muddied by corrupt deals made by Bolivian dictators.

Morales, a former protest leader whose ruling Movement Toward Socialism party grew out of the land reform movement, seems determined to change that.
He has already sent troops to occupy foreign-owned energy plants, and hopes to tackle land distribution in the next phase of his campaign to use Bolivia's natural resources for the benefit of the poor Indian majority.

"We are not going to limit ourselves to oil resources. We are also to finish with huge land ownership, especially on productive lands," Morales vowed. "We are defending the right of our indigenous peoples to their own resources."

His campaign is sure to sharpen the cultural divide between the prosperous residents of Bolivia's agricultural lowlands and the poorer, mostly Indians of the western high plains.

The government has not yet picked the lands to redistribute, but is moving quickly, Agriculture Minister Hugo Salvatierra said. Last week, he announced six proposed executive decrees, mostly to eliminate court delays in land disputes, and one proposed change in law to eliminate a provision that lets owners keep unproductive land as long as they pay taxes on it.

The first move will be to send government agents to survey fields and records, to determine which potential farming areas aren't being used or were obtained illegally, officials said.

That action is being cheered by many of the poorer Bolivians who gave a landslide election victory in December to Morales, the country's first Aymara Indian president.

But the large landowners who converted Bolivia's lowlands from a forested backwater into a booming agricultural zone are worried.

"We entered inhospitable land, we've built the roads, we've done everything," said Mauricio Saucedo, who grows soy, corn and rice on 7,500 acres. "The state has done nothing in this country."

The landowners plan to confront the government and peasant groups at a meeting Tuesday in Santa Cruz province, a center of opposition to Morales where soy plantations run as large as 75,000 acres.

Many big farmers worry troops could soon occupy their land.

"If the law doesn't protect me I'm going to defend the fruits of my sacrifice that is mine and my children's," said Mauricio Roca, vice president of the Eastern Agricultural Chamber. "I'm going to defend (my land) with all the means I have at my reach — even my life."

Salvatierra, the agriculture minister, said honest landowners don't have anything to worry about.

"The country has enough land to provide to the Indians and landless poor who don't have it without having to touch land that's already being worked," he told The Associated Press.

In the past decade, the government found new owners for only 17 percent of the more than 200,000 square miles earmarked for redistribution. Morales hopes to complete his plan within five years, starting with available state land. He intends to give out plots of less than 124 acres and speed up the issuance of titles to people working land without proof of ownership.

But there is also a proposal to expropriate land that the government determines was obtained illegally or is used for financial speculation and collateral for loans rather than for agricultural production. How much land that applies to remains unclear.

Silvestre Sausare, whose Landless Movement organizes invasions of large landholdings on behalf of 50,000 mostly Indian families, said he expects resistance from owners who "live off renting their land, speculating it and pillaging the soil's resources."

Carlos Rojas, president of the Association of Soy and Wheat Producers, rejected that characterization. "If there's a land trafficker, an unproductive hacienda, they should name them," he said.

For now, many large-scale farmers holding off on new investment. At the SACI farm machinery outlet in Santa Cruz, sales are down 30 percent since the land reform was announced, assistant manager Ernesto Eterovic said.

The agriculture minister said inequality must be addressed. Just under 90 percent of Bolivia's productive land is worked by only 50,000 families, leaving millions of Bolivians with little or none, Salvatierra said.

Victor Valverde said he would be content with an acre or two, but can't afford the going rate of $200 an acre.

"We have little money," he said in his rat-infested, mud-brick home, furnished only with a wooden dresser, two metal bed frames and pictures of Jesus.
Now Morales has given hope to those who have long had little influence. "The voice of the poor is like a bell made of wood," Valverde said.

Bush decries 'erosion of democracy' in Venezuela, Bolivia

CHICAGO Mon May 22 2006 (AFP) - US President George W. Bush said he was concerned about an "erosion of democracy" in Venezuela and Bolivia, which in recent months have adopted policies which many in Washington view as unfavorable toward US interests.

Asked here about the two Latin American countries' seemingly adverse policies towards Washington, Bush did not directly answer the question, but vowed to continue to foster positive policies in Latin America.

"I am going to continue to remind our hemisphere that respect for property rights and human rights is essential for all countries in order for there to be prosperity and peace," the US president said at a national meeting of restaurateurs, where he spoke about developments in Iraq

"I'm going to remind our allies and friends in the neighborhood that the United States of America stands for justice; that when we see poverty, we care about it, and we do something about it," Bush said.

And in what appeared to be an oblique reference to reports that Venezuela played a supporting role in presidential elections last December in Bolivia, Bush cautioned against "meddling."

"I'm going to remind our people that meddling in other elections to achieve a short-term objective is not in the interests of the neighborhood," Bush said.
Washington in the past has accused Venezuela of using its oil money to bolster the candidacy of leftist Evo Morales, who won Bolivia's December election by a landslide.

The US president added that he believes the free market system provides the best solution for poverty and other ills that afflict the region.

"I will continue to remind people that trade is the best way to help people be lifted from poverty," Bush said.

"We can spend money, and we do in the neighborhood, but the best way for there to be growth is to encourage commerce and trade and prosperity through the marketplace," he said.

He continued: "I'm going to remind people that the United States stands against corruption at all levels of government," adding, "the United States expects the same from other countries in the neighborhood."

Bolivia rebuts Bush's accusations of undermining democracy


Peoples Daily May 24 2006 - The Bolivian government on Tuesday rebutted U.S. President Bush's criticism that Bolivia is eroding democracy, according to reports from La Paz, capital of Bolivia.
Bush's criticism was "barely credible," said Alex Contreras, spokesman for the Bolivian government. He called on Bush to respect Bolivia's dignity and sovereignty.
"The administration of President Evo Morales is promoting and strengthening democracy," said Contreras, noting the Bolivia-U.S. diplomatic ties should be without interference."
He said no nations can force Bolivia to take a direction which it does not want to.
"It would be truer to say that the Unted States is eroding democracy," said the spokesman, accusing Washington of supporting dictatorship and interfering in other countries' internal affairs.
Bush on Monday criticized Bolivia's nationalization of its natural gas industry, saying he was "concerned about of erosion of democracy" in Bolivia.
Source: Xinhua

Repsol YPF not necessarily affected by reserves crisis in Bolivia

BARCELONA (AFX) - Repsol YPF SA will not necessarily see its production or earnings affected by the crisis it is experiencing in Bolivia after the country nationalised its hydrocarbons reserves, chairman Antoni Brufau said.

Speaking at a conference in Barcelona, Brufau said that despite Bolivia being an important operating base for the company, with 300,000 barrels of oil equivalent of gas or 10 pct of the company's gas reserves based there, the country only represents about 2 or 3 pct of the group's total assets.

The chairman said that the process of natural reserve nationalisation in Bolivia is at an early stage, adding that companies and the government have 180 days to reach an agreement.
He said that during the first 90 days of this period, the Bolivian authorities will be sounding out the situation of the companies involved, but noted that Repsol is ready to defend its interests. jg/tr/jlw

Bolivia, Venezuela to initial 200 agreements

The Presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela, Evo Morales and Hugo Chávez, respectively, are to sign 200 agreements in a number of fields, during Chávez' visit to Bolivian coca region Chapare, the Bolivian Presidency informed on Wednesday.

Chávez, who is paying his third official visit to Bolivia since Morales took office in January, is to announce multi-million investment in oil, mining, agriculture and cattle-raising, the sources said, AFP reported.

The trade unions of coca growers in Chapare, where Morales has his social and political grassroots, announced the mobilization of some 50,000 poor peasants.
Further, the two rulers are to boost a bilateral People's Trade Agreement (TCP), an alternative to the US-sponsored Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). They are also to endorse the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) the Venezuelan President is promoting to face the US-sponsored Free Trade Area for the Americas (FTAA).

Chávez and Morales are to reach integration agreements in the fields of healthcare, education and services.

Venezuela plans to invest some USD 1.5 billion in the Bolivian energy sector, and other USD 100 million in the local agriculture and cattle-rising industry, an initiative where Cuba is also to have a stake.

Petrobras to Cut Dependence on Bolivia Gas

By BRAD FOSS, AP Business Writer Tue May 23

NEW YORK - Petroleos Brasileiro SA on Tuesday reiterated plans to reduce Brazil's dependence on natural gas from Bolivia, which recently nationalized its industry, by accelerating production off the southeastern coast of Brazil and looking into the possibility of importing liquefied natural gas from overseas.

Company executives, speaking to investors in New York, said they would use "all legal means possible" to protect its existing commercial interests in Bolivia, while repeating its intention to suspend any new investments there.

The company's president and CEO, Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo, said he does not envision Petrobras altogether leaving Bolivia, whose natural gas supplies will continue to be necessary to help Brazil meet current and future demand. Moreover, he said Bolivia would need outside investors and markets to reap the benefits of its natural resources.

The financial impact of Bolivia's nationalization "should be very small," Gabrielli de Azevedo said, noting that projects in Bolivia accounted for less than 0.5 percent of Petrobras' first quarter net profit of 6.7 billion Brazilian reals, or roughly $3.3 billion.

Gabrielli de Azevedo said he has not heard back from the Bolivian government about an offer Petrobras made in February to increase the amount it spends to finance social projects in South America's poorest country.

Nevertheless, Gabrielli de Azevedo said he anticipated Bolivian imports to be 25 million cubic meters a day by the end of 2006, roughly half of all the natural gas consumed in Brazil.

"We have a contract with Bolivia until 2019," Gabrielli de Azevedo said, emphasizing that Petrobras is negotiating the status of the financial terms of existing projects on a weekly basis with Bolivia's YPFB, not the government of President Evo Morales. Petrobras is the largest shareholder in a $2.2 billion pipeline from Bolivia.

"We think we can get the protection of most of our investments through the negotiating table," Gabrielli de Azevedo said. "If we can not get good results at the negotiating table, we have to use other tools that we have, the arbitration process and the legal system."

To minimize its future dependence on Bolivian natural gas, Petrobras said its Brazilian natural gas production would rise by more than 24 million cubic meters a day by the end of 2008, an increase of about 13 million cubic meters from the company's original plans. Azevedo said that increased level of production, first announced on Friday, was "sustainable for at least six years."

Azevedo said Petrobras was also looking into the possibility of building two floating units that would be capable of regasifying as much as 20 million cubic meters a day of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, imported from overseas. The units would cost anywhere from $150 million to $230 million apiece, and they could be built in roughly three or four years, he said.

Repsol Begins Negotiations With Bolivia, Chairman Brufau Says

May 24 (Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, Europe's fifth-largest oil company, has begun talks with Bolivia about the South American country's May 1 decree to nationalize assets of Repsol and other energy companies, Chairman Antonio Brufau said.

"The decree needs to be interpreted, and it needs to be discussed,'' Brufau told reporters after speaking at a conference in Barcelona today. "And then we'll have to see.''

Brufau said he remains "optimistic'' about the outlook in the Bolivia for the Madrid-based company.

"Fortunately for Repsol, Bolivia is a relatively minor part of our assets,'' he said.

"Any crisis in Bolivia wouldn't necessarily have to affect Repsol in a significant manner, neither in its earnings nor in production.''

Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba to sign eight cooperation agreements

Granma International, May 26 2006

LA PAZ, May 24 — Eight cooperation agreements covering a variety of areas that will strengthen the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) are to be signed during a meeting between Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.
Bolivian presidential spokesman Alex Contreras said the agreements are to be signed next Friday, PL reported.

Contreras said that part of the agreements already negotiated deal with cooperation in the fields of education and health, Cuban strengths now being shared with Bolivia and Venezuela.

Agreements will also be signed between La Paz and Caracas for joint development projects between the state-run hydrocarbon enterprises of both nations.

By virtue of those agreements, as well as three asphalt factories, natural gas production plants will be established, which will make it possible, Contreras said, for Bolivia to stop being simply a gas vendor and begin to export derivatives.
An agreement will also be signed for the establishment of a bi-national enterprise, Minera de Sur (Minersur), which according to Walter Villarroel, minister of mining, will develop projects in a number of regions.

Villarroel left open the possibility that Minersur would operate in the giant iron mine in Mutún, near the border with Brazil, where the government is putting out to tender internationally the establishment of an iron and steel industry.

Hugo Salvatierra, minister of rural and agricultural development, noted the importance of an agreement for $100 million in credit that Venezuela will provide a support fund for small producers, which will be decisive to the agricultural sector.

Other agreements will facilitate the establishment of centers for the legal industrialization of the coca leaf and the development of agribusiness projects for coffee, tea and soy, he added.

Bolivia rejects Mittal's bid for El Mutun

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, May 25 (Reuters) - Bolivia on Thursday rejected a bid by Mittal Steel Group, saying only Indian Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. had met conditions to develop the El Mutun site that is believed to contain Latin America's biggest iron-ore deposits.

Planning Minister Carlos Villegas told local television a second bid by Netherlands-based Mittal had been sent back to the company hours after it was opened by officials.

"In the early hours of the afternoon, we started to open the envelopes, and we detected that Mittal did not comply with the conditions that were set out ... and we had to return the envelopes to the company," Villegas said.

It was not immediately clear whether Mittal would be allowed to resubmit its bid. A final decision on the successful bidder is due to be announced on May 30.
The minister said the bidding process was one of the most transparent in Bolivia's history and added that officials would start considering the economic side of Jindal's bid on Saturday.

Government officials said an expected bid from Argentina's Siderar was not received, but they provided no explanation.

El Mutun lies in the eastern province of Santa Cruz near the Brazilian border.
The bidding process for El Mutun is seen as a test of the leftist government's approach to new contracts in the mining sector, which has been rattled by the nationalization of the energy industry announced at the start of the month.

Villegas said in early May that the contract to exploit El Mutun would run for 40 years, and that the successful bidder would get total administrative control of the project for the first 20 years.

In the second 20 years, control would be shared with state mining company COMIBOL.

The government has not put a figure on the expected size of the investment for the project, which envisions a steel production operation and the extension of a natural gas pipeline to supply the project with Bolivian gas.

Bolivia wants to produce steel at home so that the country benefits from the extra jobs the project will create.

Gilberto Banegas, a union leader from the city of Puerto Suarez -- near the site -- said the development of El Mutun would be a huge boost to the economy.
"The municipal government will receive fresh resources to launch an economic take-off," he told local radio.

According to official reports, El Mutun is estimated to hold reserves of between 40 billion and 44 billion tonnes. In comparison, proven reserves in ore-rich Carajas in Brazil's northern state of Para total 1.5 billion tonnes.

(Additional reporting by Helen Popper in La Paz)

Consulting Firm Denies Bolivia Charges

By Fiona Smith, Associated Press Writer

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) Thursday May 25 -- An American petroleum consulting firm on Thursday denied accusations by Bolivia's government that it had provided false data on Bolivian natural gas and oil reserves to the state energy company.

The president of Bolivia's state energy company said Tuesday it had terminated its contract with Dallas-based DeGolyer & MacNaughton, contending they had overestimated the nation's natural gas reserves and given "false data."

But DeGolyer & MacNaughton said in a statement Thursday that it made its estimates of Bolivia's gas reserves based on information provided by YPFB itself as well as foreign energy companies.

"We categorically deny that DeGolyer & MacNaughton provided 'false data' ... any reference to our reports having been false clearly fails to take into account that they were materially accurate based on the information available at the time of publication," said Gary McGilvray, DeGolyer & MacNaughton's CEO and president, in a statement.

The Bolivian move came just days before Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's announcement Wednesday that Venezuela's state energy firm PDVSA would help YPFB certify its reserves. Chavez will be in Bolivia Friday to seal that deal as well as sign several other energy cooperation agreements.

Bolivia has the continent's second-largest natural gas reserves after Venezuela, but its proven reserves are now less than the estimated 48.7 trillion cubic feet, said Jorge Alvarado, president of Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) on Tuesday.

Alvarado couldn't say by how much the estimate may be off and did not give details as to why he believed the consultant's data incorrect.

During 2005, DeGolyer & MacNaughton obtained new information that cast some doubt on the amount of Bolivia's proven reserves, but said this did not change the overall total of Bolivia's proven and probable gas reserves, the statement said.

President Evo Morales nationalized Bolivia's natural gas industry May 1, sending troops to guard gas installations and vowing to give YPFB majority control over all energy operations in the country.

Bolivia, Venezuela initial comprehensive oil agreement

Venezuela and Bolivia are to execute Friday an ambitious oil bill within the framework of the Peoples' Trade Treaty (TCP) bolstered by the two nations along with Cuba to counter the US Free Trade Agreement.
Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela will enter into an array of agreements, including an instrument to develop the oil business, during an unprecedented ceremony in the coca town of Chapare.
Amidst unusual movement of police agents, only comparable to the times of social unrest, coca trade unions anticipate a rally of 50,000 growers, according to estimates of presidential spokesman Alex Contreras.
Chávez announced last Wednesday in Caracas that he and Morales were to execute over 20 cooperation agreements and letters of intent.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Movement to Reelect Morales in Bolivia

La Paz, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Bolivia´s governing MAS party (Movimiento al Socialismo) is recommending that the Constituent Assembly vote on whether to allow President Evo Morales to run for reelection at the end of his term.
MAS Sen. Antonio Peredo declared this will be necessary to guarantee stability in government and to continue the process of change begun in Bolivia.

Although normally changes to the Constitution are made by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, the division between the governing party and opposition following the election is such that neither side could achieve this majority.

President Morales, on convoking the Constituent Assembly, proposed that consensus, as practiced in rural communities, replace the present majority rule, which causes confrontation and political manipulation.

Morales also indicated the question of his reelection could be one of the Constituent Assembly´s decisions.

Predictably, opposition parties, who have been overwhelmed by Bolivians´ support for MAS and Morales, foresee approval by a Constituent Assembly and are against this idea.

The opposition parties that have expressed opposition are Poder Democrático Social (PODEMOS), led by ex President Jorge Quiroga, the political successor of ex Dictator Hugo Banzer, MNR –the party of repudiated ex President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, wanted for extradition from the US-, and the UN, led by entrepreneur Samuel Doria Medina.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Venezuela-Bolivia to Hookup in Sports

Caracas, May 23 (Prensa Latina) Venezuela and Bolivia will sign a sports cooperation agreement for plans and projects of mutual benefit in the fields of sports and physical culture, announced Venezuelan Sports Vice Minister Eduardo Alvarez Tuesday.
Alvarez said the signing will take place at the May 26 meeting in La Paz, the Bolivian capital, between Presidents Hugo Chavez Frias (Venezuela) and Bolivia´s Evo Morales.
He said that beginning in June, Venezuela will give Bolivia support for mass participation in physical education, sports competitions, high performance and community sports activities.
Also, it will help Bolivia with sports medicine, training of sports coaches, and service updating.
The cooperation agreement also covers using the Venezuelan experience in sports such as volleyball, judo, soccer, and triathlon.

First ALBA Fair started in Bolivia

La Paz, May 24 (Prensa Latina) The first Fair of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) kicked off here Wednesday, with an exhibit of the economic and cultural diversity of Bolivia, Cuba, and Venezuela.
The event reinforces Bolivian President Evo Morales´ proposal on the People´s Trade Agreement (TCP), and will be also attended by Argentinean and Brazilian businesspeople as observers.
Barbara Castillo, Cuban representative at the organizing committee, told Prensa Latina agreements for complementary production, technology transfer and other forms of cooperation are expected to be reached.
The Cuban delegation is formed by representatives from ministries of foreign trade, sugar, and foreign investment, as well as the agro-food sector.
The two-day fair has 65 stands, represented by 28 Venezuelan firms, 29 Bolivian, and 11 Cuban.
The ALBA Fair responds to agreements signed by Presidents Evo Morales (Bolivia), Fidel Castro (Cuba), and Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) last April 28 in Havana, when Bolivia entered that integration mechanism.

Cuba, Venezuela fund coca leaves manufacturing

Bolivia expects to implement a project to industrialize coca leaves based on a contribution amounting to USD 1 million announced by Cuba and Venezuela, Bolivian Vice-Minister of Coca and Comprehensive Development Félix Barra told the local media."Good news regarding industrialization. We met with a commission from Venezuela and Cuba. Both of them will provide about USD 1 million," Barra explained, as disclosed Tuesday by daily newspaper La Prensa.A factory is to be built in the central, tropical area of Cochabamba to get coca flour. Additionally, two facilities will be built to produce tea in the towns of Chulumani and Coripata, La Paz region.Barra did not confirm the amount of raw materials needed by arguing that it is being discussed.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia to inaugurate joint trade fair

Havana, May 17 2006 - CUBAN, Venezuelan and Bolivian companies are to participate in the 1st International Fair of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and the People’s Trade Agreement (TCP), set for May 25 and 26 in the Bolivian city of La Paz.
The Ministry of Production and Small Businesses in Bolivia, which is organizing the event, said that it would serve for the exchange of information on supply and demand possibilities in the three countries and the potentiality of productive sectors, particularly for micro- and small businesspeople.
According to Prensa Latina, participation is expected by 25 Bolivian companies and an as yet unknown number of Cuban and Venezuelan ones, said Gustavo Barbery, Bolivian deputy minister of trade and exports.
The fair is framed in the integration agreements covered by the ALBA and the TCP, signed on April 28 in Havana by Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Bolivian Prez Proposes Peoples Summit

La Paz, May 22 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian President Evo Morales noted on Monday that the Andean and South American summits, scheduled for this year, must favor integration and benefit the peoples in the participating countries.
Morales´ statements came after signing two agreements with the president of the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) – the financial arm of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) -, including an accord to cooperate with the South American presidential summit.
The said meeting is scheduled for October in the eastern Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, where the presidents of the region must establish strong unity to find peaceful and democratic solutions to their problems, added Morales.
"We want integration to help resolve economic, social, political, territorial, border problems," explained Morales, who did not elaborate on the issue.
He said that for Bolivia "it is important to debate trade proposals, but those that can solve the problems of the South American majorities and especially those of the indigenous peoples, historically abandoned."
As the host of the South American Summit, Morales will preside over that forum, following his similar role at the presidential summit of the Andean Community of Nations, scheduled for June 9 in Quito, Ecuador.
Morales said recently that he will try to save CAN from the serious crisis it has gone through since Colombia and Peru signed free trade agreements that undermine the basic principles of Andean integration.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Evo Morales Calls to Defend Nationalization

La Paz, May 21 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian President Evo Morales called Saturday to defend the hydrocarbon nationalization amid possible conspiracies, in his speech to a crowd of farmers in the northern and tropical locality of Caranavi.
The dignitary highlighted the need that the organized people support the gas and oil recovery by the state and confirmed he has information on possible conspiracies encouraged by the traditional political parties and some transnationals to hamper the nationalization process.
Similarly, he called on his people to be organized and assume the genuine power through the election of candidates to the Constituent Assembly to be held in July.
That is, he said, the only way to consolidate the process boosted by his administration, which he described as a cultural and democratic revolution and so he called to work to guarantee the new popular victory nationwide.
According to Evo Morales, the legal structure marked by two decades of neoliberalism hinders his government's intention to boost structural changes and so, the only alternative is to conquer the Constituent Assembly, expected to reestablish the Bolivian constitution instead of just reforming it.

Cuba supports literacy campaign in Bolivia

By: Manuel Robles Sosa*

La Paz, May 21 (Prensa Latina) Cuba again demonstrated its capacity and willing solidarity by supplying the teaching resources necessary to bring to fruition the objectives of Bolivian president, Evo Morales, of eradicating illiteracy in his country.
With a total of 32 Cuban advisors, March 20 marked the beginning of a massive phase in the southeastern city of Camiri signaling the "first wave" of the National Literacy Campaign "I can", a Cuban method used already in 13 countries.
Luis Ignacio Gómez, Cuban Minister of Education noted that the literacy campaign was an agreement between presidents Morales and Fidel Castro, last December during the visit of the former to Cuba, his first stop as elected president.
According to this agreement March 1 was the beginning a pilot program, as an expression of Latin American cooperation, in 52 teaching centers distributed in eight departments (provinces) of the country. The only exception was Tanja where a similar program was begun in 2005.
The first part of this literacy campaign for 200 thousand Bolivians will be in Spanish. The following section will be spread out in five thousand points for another 200 thousand and then a third and fourth will be bilingual for indigenous communities.
Bolivian Education Minister, Félix Patzi, noted the importance of literacy in the original languages of the region: Quechua, Aimara and Guarani spoken by 320 thousand citizens of the original peoples.
As a whole, this ambitious program aims to teach approximately one million 100 thousand Bolivians who have been deprived of the right to read and write, according to a census done in 2001.
This task will be undertaken by thousands of sides who will guide students in the use of audiovisual aids of the "I can" program of proven effectiveness and adaptable for any language.
In the case of Bolivia, Bolivian actors have taped, in Cuba, the classes with texts suitable for the reality of this country and will do the versions in Quechua, Aimara and Guarani.
Expressing gratitude for Cuba's solidarity at the commencement of the massive phase, President Morales, pointed out that the Island and Venezuela - that supplied 18 literacy teachers and whose Education Minister, Aristóbulo Isturiz, was present at the event - are the only countries in America to end neo-liberalism.
For his part, Cuban Minister Gómez, said that Bolivia can count on the modest help of Cuba that offers its support in spite of the consequences of the United States blockade.
"They have our modest support as a contribution to our America, the great nation dreamt of by Bolívar, Sucre and Martí so that it is, finally, free and independent", he said.
Tribute was paid to the Cuban-Argentine revolutionary, Ernesto Che Guevara, recalling that he went by Camiri - about 800 kilometers southeast of La Paz - when he fought in Bolivia 40 years ago for literacy to reach this country.
He recalled that there are close to 800 million illiterates and two billion partial illiterates and Latin America has 40 million illiterates and more than 110 million who barely know how to read and write their names.
After questioning so much ignorance in this globalized world that claims to live in the era of computer sciences and that should aspire for a knowledgeable society, he said that there has been no political will by those who hold power at a global level and in each country.
Neoliberal economic policies have not only been the cause of ruin of our peoples and those weak leaders of these policies dictated from centers of world power have cut their budgets for education and privatized public schools and have paid no heed to literacy.
He gave the example of Cuba that, in less than three years after the triumph of the revolution, in the midst of a mercenary invasion and aggression, was declared the first territory in Latin America to be free of illiteracy.
He explained that in two years of applying the "I can" method it eradicated illiteracy, a goal now set by President Morales only two months after it began.
"And you cannot begin to talk about a revolutionary process if first you do not take care of the accumulated needs of the peoples, in education and health, in first place", he pointed out.
After quoting phrases by Simón Bolívar and José Martí on the importance of education for free peoples, Gómez added that exploiters give priority to the education of their children to perpetuate injustices and inequalities.
Explaining the universality and characteristics of the "I can" method, he pointed out that one of its virtues is that it allows a continuity of studies, without which literacy campaigns are doomed to failure.

Bolivian Prez Confirms Second Agrarian Reform

La Paz, May 20 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian President Evo Morales on Saturday confirmed the decision to carry out an agrarian revolution without affecting legal and productive properties, in the light of strong regionalist opposition.
During a visit to the central region of Cochabamba, Morales pointed out that the decrees announced by the government are not aimed at expropriating private land, but to grant the State those that are illegally owned and do not play a social and economic role, as expressed in the Constitution.
The decrees simplify and speed up the process to verify those requisites, as well as the further redistribution of the confiscated land, which will be granted to communities to eliminate small farms or the concentration of property.
The measures have brought reactions from landowners from four regions under strong conservative political influence, who claim that legal producers will run an alleged risk, and have denounced inexistent plans to relocate citizens from the Andean region to the west.
"Large estates are unconstitutional, especially unproductive large estates," said the Bolivian president, adding that the most affected people will be those who have large plots of land, a phenomenon that is most common in the eastern part of the country.
Morales also rejected the alleged vertical and compulsive nature of the so-called second agrarian reform - the first one took place in 1953 but failed to prevent the emergence large estates - and repeated that the decrees will be debated.

Bolivia to Request Criminal Extradition

La Paz, May 21 (Prensa Latina) The US lack of political will to collaborate with the Bolivian justice, requesting the extradition of an ex-minister charged of crimes against humanity has tinged the international expectation.
The Bolivian Foreign Ministry, the General Attorney's Office and the Department for the People's Defense expressed their intention to request the extradition of Luis Arce Gomez, cruel minister of interior during the regimen of Luis Garcia Meza (1980-1981) and arrested under trafficking charges.
The request takes place amid the expectations generated due to the parole conceded to Arce Gomez for an alleged good behavior in the penitentiary center where he has been jailed since December 1990.
According to Attorney General Pedro Gareca, the ex-minister will be released next year instead of being extradited to abide the 30-year sentence with no right to reprieve.
People's prosecutor Waldo Albarracin called to start extradition procedures so that they may be concluded by his release.
Bolivian authorities consider that the lack of political will showed by the US government hampers the expectations on the extradition process.

Spanish Bank to Give Shares to Bolivia

Madrid, May 17 (Prensa Latina) Spain´s Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) Bank will surrender to the Bolivian government the pension fund oil shares it administrates.
Ildelfonso Nuñez, general manager of BBVA Prevision, confirmed that the Bolivian Executive´s demand will be met; however, he conditioned giving up the stock on compensation.
That entity had three days to hand over to the State the assets they administer for a fund used to pay retirement pensions.
Meanwhile, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Pedro Solbes said that Bolivia must indemnify BBVA for the stock it controls, although Bolivia´s President Evo Morales has insisted that his administration would not pay for the stocks because they are not being expropriated.