Bolivian President Evo Morales said companies that respect the law and don’t “conspire” against the government are welcome in his country. Bolivia needs investors and partners rather than “bosses,” Morales told a conference of business leaders and politicians in Madrid.
The government is seeking talks with companies that want to invest in exploiting Bolivia’s lithium deposits, said Morales on his first official visit to Spain.
“We need partners, companies that respect the Bolivian rules,” Morales said. “Companies that come to invest are welcome, but not to do politics.”
Bolivia has about 49% of the world’s lithium reserves, according to a US Geological Survey report. It also holds the second-largest natural-gas reserves in South America, after Venezuela, and Spain’s Repsol YPF SA is among energy companies operating there.
Morales also denied Bolivia was thinking of breaking relations with United States or with any other country.
“Bolivia is not going to break relations, not even with US. Nobody can impede us from having relations with all countries”, said Morales during the business conference.
On Sunday on arrival to Madrid President Morales addressed a rally of several thousand Bolivians residents in Spain calling for Latinamerican countries to reject US military bases.
He also appealed to “social movements” in Europe and the world “to help us finish” with foreign military bases in Latinamerica and recalled that under the Bolivian constitution “no military bases from any country are allowed in the country”.
However the Bolivian opposition has complained that with three months to a presidential election, when Bolivians overseas for the first time will be allowed to vote, President Morales is campaigning openly in Spain where an estimated 100.000 legal immigrants and 150.000 illegal reside.
Spain was also expected to condone 70 million Euros of Bolivian debt conditioned to Bolivia coming up with the equivalent of 40% of that sum to invest in education. Bolivia figures high in the list of priority countries for Spanish cooperation having awarded 220 million US dollars between 2006 and 2008.
Spanish corporations interests in Bolivia are numerous and include not only hydrocarbons but power, airports, leisure, publishing, explosives and pension funds.