Associated Press, Nov 4
Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said Sunday that
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Garcia said that the Oct. 28 contract signings with Brazilian state energy giant Petrobras, the Spanish-Argentine company Repsol YPF and others have given the government a much-needed boost after months of unfavorable headlines.
"We feel satisfied, but we still have a good ways to go," Garcia said. "We still must guarantee a strong presence of the Bolivian state throughout the chain of production, a real and practical control through personnel, experts, technology, know-how."
Bolivian state energy company Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, or YPFB, was left emaciated by a mishandled 1996 privatization, and has long been only minor player in its own country's petroleum industry.
But according to the terms of President Evo Morales' May 1 nationalization decree, YPFB is to assume controlling interest in all international companies' Bolivian operations.
"Clearly, the state will have to take a very strong role" in the mining sector, Garcia said.
Nationalization talks in recent months have overshadowed an assembly convened by the government in August to draw up a new Bolivian Constitution.
To increase indigenous groups' power in government, Garcia suggested the new framework replace
Garcia said "part of the debate" over a new constitution concerns whether to make changes allowing Bolivian presidents to run for immediate re-election — which would open the way for Morales to run again in 2010.
For the last three months, the assembly has been crippled by lack of consensus. But the vice president remains sanguine about its chances of completing a new constitution before its August 2007 deadline, taking the seemingly endless squabbles between delegates in stride.
The constitutional assembly is "a grand stage to write a grand agreement between social sectors that have never agreed on anything in the entire history of the country," Garcia said. "That's why it's so important. It's not that they agreed on something once and then got bored of that agreement. They never agreed on anything — especially between the subjugated indigenous groups."
Enshrining into law the rights of those indigenous peoples is Garcia's central goal for the new framework. The Aymara, Quechua, Guarani, and
The vice president hopes to one day see "an Aymara speaker from here in El Alto (a poor and largely indigenous
Garcia also spoke of
On Sunday Garcia expressed his interest in working with the
"Our relations have not always been that way," he said.
The stark contrasts between the bookish European-descended Garcia and the swaggering indigenous union leader Morales have made some here wonder about the two getting along.
For his part, Garcia, long involved with
That dream now fulfilled, Garcia said he has no ambition to one day become president himself.
"The indigenous must govern this country for a good while," he said. "For their proper historical right, for equality, and for their democratic majority, it belongs to them."Taken from International Herald Tribunal