Bolivia to nationalize four more oil firms
Bolivia on Thursday
said it would launch its second stage of nationalizing its oil industry, with
plans to take over four companies - Transredes, Andina, Chaco and CLHB.
The move comes as one of Bolivia's wealthier provinces, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, prepares to hold a maverick referendum on Sunday seeking greater autonomy to commandeer more of its endemic wealth in the form of natural gas and other resources.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, the country's first indigenous leader elected in 2005, has declared the referendum illegal.
The leftist-populist president has set about nationalizing the country's energy resources to fund government programmes in support of the Indio majority, who live mostly in the resource-poor highlands in the western part of the country.
Santa Cruz's large population of European origin is trying to block Morales in his efforts.
In the first year after Morales nationalized much of the oil and natural gas industry, the government's income doubled from the resources. But the lion's share of the income continued going to the provinces.
Morales' government has also renegotiated substantially more lucrative contracts with foreign energy companies.
Morales has received strong backing from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua in his efforts to nationalize the Andean nation's energy resources, DPA reported.