Bolivia Seizes Spanish-Owned Power Firm

Morales nationalizes power grid

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 2, 2012 4:19 AM CDT

(Newser) – Bolivian President Evo Morales marked May Day by ordering the country's armed forces to seize the assets of the country's main electricity company. Spanish-owned Red Electrica owned and operated around 85% of Bolivia's power grid, and Morales announced that he was nationalizing the company because it had failed to invest enough in his country, reports the BBC. "Long live the First of May and long live nationalization," he said in a televised speech.

Red Electrica, which is partially owned by the Spanish government, said the action is "against the free market and the rule of law that should govern international investment" and it will seek compensation from the Bolivian government. Morales, whose government gained control of most of the country's energy sector through earlier nationalizations, appears to have been inspired by Argentina's recent seizure of another Spanish energy firm, the Wall Street Journal notes.

A llama walks past pylons in El Alto, Bolivia.
A llama walks past pylons in El Alto, Bolivia.   (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Military police stand guard outside Transportadora de Electricidad, the Spanish electricity grid’s Bolivian subsidiary, in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Military police stand guard outside Transportadora de Electricidad, the Spanish electricity grid’s Bolivian subsidiary, in Cochabamba, Bolivia.   (AP Photo)
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