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Montevideo, June 21st 2024 - 10:07 UTC



A former Chilean Socialist minister considers “delirious” the nationalization of mining industry

Wednesday, February 16th 2022 - 09:44 UTC
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Sergio Bitar described the nationalization initiative, “a delirious return to the past”, and “ignorant of history events” Sergio Bitar described the nationalization initiative, “a delirious return to the past”, and “ignorant of history events”

A veteran Chilean politician who among other appointments was Minister of Mines under the deposed Socialist government of Salvador Allende in 1973, and later held other ministerial responsibilities following the return of democracy in 1990, strongly criticized the initiative to again nationalize the mining companies which operate in Chile, as proposed in the Constitutional Convention drafting a new constitution.

Sergio Bitar, a Socialist, described the initiative, as “a delirious return to the past”, and “ignorant of history events” when recalling the efforts demanded to achieve the nationalization initiative during the government of Salvador Allende in the early seventies.

Although the initiative in the Constitutional Convention needs a special two-thirds majority from the full house for its approval, a difficult challenge, Bitar nevertheless recalled his experience as a privileged actor and witness of “what was that happened then”.

“I recall all the problems we had trying to sell copper outside of the business circle, I remember when Congress voted not to pay any compensations to the companies for assets and lost profits, which is what I am listening now”

“One thing are dreams, wishful dreams, but the reality has nothing to do with dreams, it has to do with the global powers you must face. If your reason following the terms of global power, economic power...for example China now buys a third of Chilean copper, so what will be our strategy with nationalized mining companies? Lower exports or risk management we are incapable of addressing from the State?”

Bitar further on asked, “what is the price to pay for international trade agreements not honored, 100 billion dollars? which means we would be unable to pay pensions, invest in education, in health care, in housing, in science and technology, nor improve feeding and teaching of children less than five years old?”

So “please let us be realistic, aware of what is possible and what is not possible. We can increase the added value of minerals exported. Move quickly to green copper, green hydrogen, increase solar power, even possibly a state-managed company. We must advance in the desalinization of water, a crucial issue for all the regions of Chile”

Bitar then went on to describe some of the debates in the constitutional convention as “delirious”, which “in some cases are a majority, but fortunately, there are not sufficient votes yet for those more radical, infantile positions”

In effect ”fortunately this week an attempt by several radical convention members to eliminate the two-thirds majority vote to approve constitutional rules was rejected. The idea was to consider sufficient the votes in specific committees and thus follow with simple majorities on the floor, enough to eliminate the special quorum now required.

Categories: Investments, Politics, Chile.

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