Evo Morales was sworn in for his third consecutive term as president of Bolivia on Thursday. Before that, on Wednesday, he turned up for an indigenous ceremonial inauguration at the pre-Inca ruins of Tiwanaku wearing an outfit engraved with the sun god, worthy of an emperor. The symbolism was fitting: Bolivia’s longest-serving leader has not only championed indigenous rights but also managed to enrich one of Latin America’s poorest countries.
But the man who is arguably the world’s most successful socialist will face a tough time in his third term, as plunging global oil prices slash the country’s key earnings from natural gas. Read more
Bolivia, a key supplier of gas to the southern half of Latin America, is facing potentially harder times as falling international oil prices are piling downward pressure onto the price at which it sells its gas.
However, Carlos Villegas, the president of the state-run energy company, YPFB, is confident that if oil prices continue to hover around their current levels of $82 a barrel, Bolivia can avoid having to cut the prices of its exported natural gas. Read more
Bolivian minister of rural development Carlos Romero (L), Bolivian Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera, Bolivian President Evo Morales, and Bolivian Minister of Finance Luis Arce
Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales – along with his deputy Alvaro García Linera, a suave Marxist mathematician – seems to be sailing towards his third presidential victory in Sunday’s election, thanks to a self-styled socialist agenda, popular among impoverished Bolivians.
Despite the government’s sometimes fiery anti-capitalist rhetoric, Morales has managed to triple the size of the Andean country’s economy, which is forecast to grow at South America’s fastest clip this year.
In the country’s capital, La Paz, Warwick-educated finance minister Luis Arce explained to beyondbrics the Bolivian model behind the economy’s success: Read more
Is Bolivia ready to improve its image among foreign direct investors? A settlement with one claimant and an order to pay another at the end of last week suggest now would be a good time to do so – especially as the country tries to diversify away from its reliance on commodity exports and as President Evo Morales (pictured) prepares to seek re-election for a third term in October. Read more
Once the first indigenous president of an impoverished country with an Indian majority has established his authority, tripled the size of the economy and is poised to win a third mandate, what else is there to do?
Sign up as a midfielder for a professional club for next season.
That is what Bolivia’s President Evo Morales recently did with Sport Boys, a team based in Warnes, outside the eastern city of Santa Cruz, once a bitter hardline opposition stronghold to his government.
In the last week an international court ordered Bolivia to pay $41m in compensation to UK-based power generator Rurelec for the nationalisation of its assets. After a stream of seizures in recent years, the move could set a precedent for other companies waiting for reparations from the Andean country’s leftwing government.
However, to some observers there is a big question looming: will Bolivia actually pay up? And if so, when? Read more
Bolivia, often labelled as one of South America’s poorest countries, might pull a surprise in 2o13: the IMF expects this landlocked Andean country to grow by 6.7 per cent – its highest rate in ten years.
Despite the fierce anti-capitalist rhetoric and nationalisation policy of President Evo Morales (pictured), Bolivia’s gross domestic product has tripled to $27bn since he took office in January 2006, and economic growth has been chalking up an impressive 5 per cent average. As a consequence, the financial sector has also grown substantially. Any worries? Read more
Critics of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s leftwing president, say his enthusiasm for nationalisation is such that there will soon be no companies left to nationalise. But if Morales has been indiscriminate in bringing the private sector under the state’s wing since he took office in 2006, he has at least been getting selective recently over which former owners to compensate for taking their companies off their hands. Read more
By Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas, Washington
Bolivia is the poorest nation in South America. Along with Haiti and Nicaragua, it is one of the poorest in all of the western hemisphere. So what’s President Evo Morales’ latest strategy to improve social indicators? Expel USAID, the US government aid agency that spent some $28m last year promoting healthcare among poor Bolivians and working to protect the environment. Read more
Spain’s economic crisis is writ large in the Inter-American Development Bank’s latest statistics on remittance flows to Latin America.
For years, thousands of Bolivians, Ecuadoreans and Colombians have been among those to seek work in Spain, legally or illegally. Whether young educated professionals, or poor maids, cleaners and construction labourers, these workers could see the advantages of saving Euros that would magically multiply back home into pesos or dollars or bolivianos. Read more
Can I nationalise you?
For a country with a fondness for nationalisations and getting its way, going to full arbitration might feel a little, well, odd. Bolivia has been placing companies under state control on and off since May 2006.
So how did UK-based power company Rurelec manage to get Bolivia to go to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague over the nationalisation of the assets of its local subsidiary, Guaracachi, almost three years ago? Read more
Evo Morales strikes again. On Monday, Bolivia’s president nationalised the operations of the country’s three largest airports – taking over the local unit of Barcelona-based Abertis Infrastructuras SA and AENA, Spain’s airport authority.
The seizure of the airport operations in La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba is Morales’ third expropriation in 10 months. In December, his government seized two electricity distribution companies owned by Spain’s Iberdrola. Six months earlier on May Day, it nationalised the assets of Spain’s Red Eléctrica. Read more
Trying to carve out a Bolivian mining industry purely on his own terms is proving tricky for Bolivia’s leftwing President Evo Morales.
Recently, he was forced to give out some disappointing numbers about the performance of the Colquiri mine, which the government took over from London-listed commodities giant Glencore in June of last year, during a dispute between rival mining unions. Read more
It looks like another tough battle is in store for one more foreign utility owner fighting back against Bolivian nationalisation.
Red Eléctrica, the Spanish power grid operator, is to seek arbitration at ICSID, the World Bank’s investment dispute settlement agency, after Bolivian troops marched in to take over Transportadora de Electricidad, which handles about three quarters of electricity transmission in the Andrean country, in May last year. Read more
Walking around the Uyuni salt flats, all you see is a dry and crusty white nothingness stretching to the horizon. But underneath this almost-lunar landscape in Bolivia’s Andean plateau is half the world’s lithium – the lightest metal on the planet, used in the batteries that drive a host of modern gadgetry and a potential power source for electric vehicles.
Now Bolivia wants to cash in on the value to be added to this precious resource, with the opening of the country’s first lithium processing plant. Read more
Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, was often cast as a champion of the environment. So much, that last month Bolivia passed the world’s first ruling that grants rights to nature.
The law, which the former llama herder and coca grower called a means “to live in equilibrium and harmony with Mother Earth,” gives spiritual value to the land – way beyond its intrinsic environmental, social, and not to mention, economic significance. Read more
It took a while – over ninety years since the last one and almost nine months since it was first announced. But Bolivia finally took the plunge into the global credit market on Monday, with the launch of a $500m bond issue. Read more
After comings and goings, Bolivia’s leftist government with an indigenous twist finally ruled out paying compensation to Canada’s South American Silver, two months after their mining licence was revoked.
“The nation has no financial obligation to South American Silver,” mining minister Mario Virreira told reporters, adding there was “never any document establishing that the Bolivian government had a contractual relationship” with the Vancouver-based company. Read more