Bolivia Revokes Concessions in National Parks
LAJA, Bolivia Bolivian President Evo Morales stepped up his nationalization campaign Saturday by announcing the withdrawal of energy and forestry concessions inside some 20 national parks.
A staunch leftist, Morales was elected in December 2005 on a platform of nationalization of natural resources, land redistribution and support for coca leaf production. He nationalized the country's energy industry on May 1.
"Here and now, this is the beginning of the nationalization of our natural resources," he told about 100 Indian peasants in Laja, a community 680 miles north of La Paz located within Madidi National Park.
"We have to defend our wood and other natural resources," Morales said. "You all must be the forest rangers."
The government did not specify which energy companies would be affected. But Spain's Repsol YPF, France's Total and Brazil's Petrobras have exploratory concessions within Bolivia's national parks.
"About 20 national parks will once again be run (entirely) by the state," said Erland Flores of the National Service of Protected Areas.
Morales, Bolivia's Vice President Alvaro Garcia and several ministers arrived at this remote corner of the Amazonian jungle, near the border with Peru, in two helicopters provided by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Venezuela and its chief oil client, the United States, often spar as Chavez promotes his self-styled socialist revolution as an alternative to U.S. policies and bolsters ties with U.S. adversaries Cuba and Iran.