Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bolivia nationalises Spanish-owned power grid

NATIONALIZATION • Bolivian troops occupy installations owned by Red Eléctrica, following Argentina's move to nationalise oil company.

By PHILLIP INMAN / The Guardian

Bolivian president Evo Morales (second from the right) and members of his government celebrate May Day. Photo © EPA®

LA PAZ, Bolivia .— The trend for South American nations to reclaim privatised energy businesses has strengthened after Bolivia's president Evo Morales said he planned to seize control of the main power grid from a Spanish-owned company.

The move is a blow to Red Eléctrica Corporaciión, which has operated most of Bolivia's electricity distribution since the grid was privatised 15 years ago.

It follows Argentina's controversial move last month to take control of the country's oil company, YPF, from the Spanish energy company Repsol, which had a majority interest.

Spain's ambassador to La Paz expressed alarm that another overseas Spanish asset was effectively being seized. He said the electric grid takeover "is sending a negative message that generates distrust".

Morales chose to press ahead with the move on May Day, the international labour day, by ordering troops to occupy the company's installations. More...


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