President Evo Morales said on Thursday that Repsol and the other multinational companies operating in Bolivia should not fear nationalization since his government only appeals to that extreme when corporations think in ‘looting’ instead of investing.
“To all those companies that invest in Bolivia, I want to assure them that their investments are guaranteed, that they have the right to recover those investments and to make a profit”, said Morales during a press conference in United Nations where he is participating in a world conference on quinoa.
He added that his administration works jointly with companies that are partners and that invest, and mentioned as an example Spain’s Repsol, with whom “we have excellent relations”.
Morales was referring to the recently nationalized air terminals’ operator, Sabsa, which he seized arguing the Spanish company back in 1997, with an initial investment of 4.000 dollars had taken over control of Bolivia’s three main airports, La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, a business with “has assets and a turnover of 430 million dollars”.
He added that from 1997 to 2005, Spanish controlled Sabsa had “no investment plans, it was only looting and looting”, and for the period 2006 to 2025 had promised to invest 26 million dollars and allegedly only 5 million were invested in 2006.
“At first sight there was no changes, nothing new, although the company would insist it had invested in maintenance”, claimed Morales.
“Maybe because of some bad companies, mistaken board members, we are having certain diplomatic differences”, added the first indigenous president of Bolivia.
The Spanish government warned President Morales that it was reviewing relations with Bolivia following the latest nationalization and the European Commission criticized the decision and demanded fair compensation.
“It’s not the government of Spain or the Spanish people to blame, but rather some companies that come with an only interest: looting, robbing and making quick money without thinking about any investments in our airports”.
Morales revealed that three years ago the Spanish Socialist government of President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had asked him to delay the measure and talk to the company because they were going to make the needed investments.
“Unfortunately the dialogue with the company Sabsa made us lose three years” and not only that but international organizations of air transport have placed observers in some airports.
“It is evident that the air terminals have resulted too small and now after the nationalization we are determined to make the necessary investments” pledged the Bolivian president.
Finally Morales argued that nationalizing basic sectors of the national economy was an instrument to recover sovereignty and improve the living conditions of his people.