Brazil Cites Own Constitution to Recognize Bolivia’s Right to Nationalize Oil

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s press secretary released a statement in which the Brazilian government recognizes Bolivia’s right to nationalize its oil.

Says the note: "The decision by the government of Bolivia to nationalize its natural resources and control their industrialization, transportation and commercialization, is recognized by Brazil as a sovereign right. Brazil, pursuant to its own constitution, exercises total control over its natural resources."

The note added that there are no problems with the flow of natural gas from Bolivia to Brazil and that in a telephone conversation Tuesday, May 3, President Morales of Bolivia ensured Lula that the flow would continue normally. The two presidents also agreed that any price adjustments will be resolved through negotiations.

Summit

The Brazilian President will meet with the presidents of Bolivia, Evo Morales, Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and Argentina, Néstor Kirchner, in Foz do Iguaçu on Thursday, May 4. On top of the agenda at the summit is the issue of energy security in South America.

On Monday, Morales announced the nationalization of Bolivia’s oil and gas sector and sent troops into oil fields and refineries. Some of them owned by Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petrobras.

Tuesday, May 2, was a calm and normal day in the capital of Bolivia, La Paz, reports the Brazilian embassy there. With the announcement of the nationalization of the country’s gas and oil reserves, little changed. Gas stations opened normally and there was no problem with supply.

The nationalization announcement came on May Day, which most of the world celebrates as Labor Day, a traditional time for special presidential messages. But for most Bolivians the message was an unexpected surprise.

The embassy reports that the Indian population of Bolivia, 85%, strongly favors the Morales decision and the way it was done. Most of the remaining population is anti-Morales and fears that the nationalization will harm the country causing foreign firms to leave.

However, it must be pointed out that nationalization was a central part of the Morales presidential campaign platform. Morales promised to implement the results of a referendum in which 90% of the voters were favorable to nationalization.

Morales still has two other important campaign promises to keep: a constitutional assembly and the recovery of Bolivia’s access to the Pacific Ocean. The country lost its coastline in a war with Chile in the 19th century.

Agência Brasil

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