Bolivian President Evo Morales announced on Saturday the nationalization of three private electricity firms in a move the government says will leave it in control of 80 percent of the country’s electricity production. In his speech commemorating international workers’ day, Morales said, “once again, a first of May, and as always we’re recovering our privatized companies.” The government claims the nationalizations will guarantee labor stability and lead to a 20 percent reduction in electricity rates. The moves are part of the employment stability and energy reduction agenda.
Soon after the decree, police occupied the offices of three companies: Corani, Valle Hermoso and Guaracachi. Corani is half owned by a subsidiary of French company GDF Suez. Guaracachi’s main partner is U.K.-based Rurelec, and Valle Hermoso is locally owned.
Last year, Mr. Morales announced the takeover of a British Petroleum (BP) subsidiary, He has also nationalized oil and gas reserves in an effort to redistribute wealth to Bolivia’s indigenous majority. Critics say the spate of nationalizations will reduce investor confidence in Bolivia and threaten the prospects for sustained future growth.