Bolivia and the Brazil Washington axis
by Andrés Soliz Rada, from Rebelion, 02/03/2008
With the failure of the meeting of heads of state of Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil over Bolivian gas sales to its
neighbours, Cristina Kirchner asked for the concretization of Venezuela's entry into Mercosur. Her demand showed how
hard it is to negotiate with President Lula of Brazil, who has signed a strategic deal with George W. Bush to produce
biofuels. Put another way, Kirchner proposed that the Brasilia-Washington axis be counter-balanced by a Buenos Aires-La
Paz-Caracas alliance so as to be able to negotiate with Brasilia under different conditions.
Unhappily, Cristina's words are just not enough. Her husband extended for 30 years the contracts by which Carlos Menem
gifted to foreign capital Argentina's most important reserves of gas and oil. The state energy company ENARSA has not
restrained the arrogance of Repsol (now with major US shareholders) or of Petrobras, Brazil's State oil company. On two
occasions Kirchner told Evo Morales that if foreign companies were unwilling to invest in Bolivia, Evo had only to pick
up the phone to get US$1.5 billion from Argentina. What became of that promise?
In Bolivia itself, the re-launched state hydrocarbons company YFPB is an empty shell. Before it can even walk it has
been decapitalized by a benefit payable to students which has to be paid with income from the hydrocarbons
nationalization, which has to be paid by the impoverished State entity since that income does not figure in the
contracts with foreign oil companies. YPFB has just handed over to Petrobras gas fields in the areas traditionally under
its control. Instead of the energy agreement with Venezuela of January 2005 being implemented, YPFB asked PDVSA for 53
service stations. They were not installed either.
Relations with Iran have a high political cost for Bolivia that could be justified with gas and oil agreements. Instead,
Teheran will install a television channel. Evo's criticisms of the United States have been persistent. However, rather
than fulfill the Nationalization Decree which provides for YPFB to take a majority shareholding in Transredes - the
Shell-Enron subsidiary operating Bolivia's gas pipelines - that consortium's own presence in the country gets bigger
For his part, Hugo Chavez is embattled with the Exxon-Mobil giant and Lula has frozen the Southern Gas Pipeline project
in which Bolivia could have participated so long as 50% of its gas production was processed in Bolivia. Petrobras will
invest in Bolivia so long as it can veto any domestic processing of Bolivia's gas.
The New World Order posits the disappearance of weak national states. That real world fact was not taken into account
when indigenous rights were prioritized in a way that has ended up strengthening the separatist groups of Santa Cruz.
Another thing not given its due measure has been the damage caused to national sovereignty by the presence of
Non-Governmental Organizations which have funded both indigenous movements and Evo Morales' political party, MAS.
Now, Evo censures USAID for its interference in the country. Is it because he is unaware of the presence of the Soros
Foundation and NGOs like CIPCA (run by Xavier Albó), CEJIS (which according to Leonardo Tamburini gets funding from the
US, Britain and Germany), OXFAM (funded by BP, and the Rockefeller and Ford foundations), Tierra (of Miguel Urioste) as
well as Qhana, Aclo, Cepad, Cedoin, IPTK and others that get funding from the US, the United Kingdom, Spain,
Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Canada and the Vatican?
Unless Cristina and Evo resolve their domestic contradictions the mutually protective Bolivia-Argentina-Venezuela axis
will continue to be a chimera.
translation copyleft by tortilla con sal