Brazil’s Petrobras Needs to Respect Bolivia’s Property Rights

A Brazilian physicist, José Walter Bautista Vidal, who played an important role in the country’s sugarcane-based ethanol program (Proálcool) and presently works with biodiesel projects, says that what Brazil should do is defend Bolivia’s right to nationalize its oil and gas reserves and industries.

"At issue here is the principle of sovereignty. If we do not respect the principle of sovereignty others will use it against us and we have much to lose," he declared.

Bautista Vidal says it is wrong to see what Bolivia did as an "error," or that Bolivia is attacking Brazil, just because Petrobras was affected by the decision.

"That is not true. Bolivia is preserving fundamental, strategic property… and Bolivia is right. Petroleum is the property of the Bolivian people, just like the mineral reserves in Brazil belong to the Brazilian people," he explained.

Citing the example of the Vale do Rio Doce Company, one of the world’s largest mining firms, which was privatized during the Cardoso government, Bautista Vidal said:

"Today the Vale do Rio Doce Company operates in accordance with the rules that govern multinational groups and not in the interests of Brazil. The fact that foreign companies can obtain possession of resources is a crime against sovereignty," he said.

"Petrobras has to act differently, in accordance with Brazilian principles, respecting the property of other nations," said Bautista Vidal.

"But there are reports that Petrobras has not been following those principles and that is why the Bolivian people did what they did. Such activity by Petrobras is not compatible with Brazilian interests. Petrobras cannot act like other petroleum companies."

Agência Brasil

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