International civil society organisations protest Telecom Italia’s new attacks and confiscatory measures against Bolivia

Civil society organisations meeting in the People’s Social Summit in Lima denounce the recent decision of ETI and Telecom Italia this month to demand that the New York State Court freeze the accounts of the National Telecommunications Company (ENTEL) as part of a strategy of aggression against the government of Bolivia.

Lima, 15 May 2008

Meeting in Lima during the People’s Social Summit Linking Alternatives 3, the organisations signed below, denounce the recent acts of aggression of Telecom Italia against the Bolivian people. The Italian transnational company (with ten per cent control of the Spanish company Telefonica) has asked the New York State Court to freeze the accounts of the National Telecommunications Company (ENTEL) which are valued at tens of millions of Euros. ETI/Telecom Italia has chosen to use this measure in the context of a legal case against Bolivia presented on 12 October 2007 before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID which is part of the World Bank). It is a measure that could have serious impacts for one of the most impoverished countries in Latin America, given that a decision in Telecom Italia’s favour would lead to the money in the frozen accounts being handed over directly to the company.

As a result of neoliberal policies in the 1990s, the most strategic economic sectors of the economy were privatised and handed over to transnational capital. This has had grave economic, social and environmental impacts. The current Bolivian government’s policy is to revert this situation and recuperate the sovereignty of the Bolivian people over these sectors, in order to contribute to Bolivia’s development. In April 2007 Bolivia announced its intention to retake control of ENTEL via legal means, through discussion and negotiation. The company’s response was to present before ICSID on 12 October 2007 a formal demand to put together an arbitration tribunal against Bolivia, asking for compensation for a fictitious harm to its investment.

It is a controversial legal demand and is particularly unjustified for various reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t respect Bolivia’s sovereign decision taken on 2 May 2007 to withdraw from ICSID, a private World Bank tribunal, which enables transnationals to make direct demands on States who have benefited in at least two-thirds of cases. Secondly, there is considerable evidence that ETI/Telecom Italia did not invest what was promised in Bolivia and has failed to provide adequate services to the Bolivian population. Moreover, ETI/Telecom Italia owes approximately $82 million dollars in defaulted taxes in Bolivia.

Thirdly, it is incomprehensible that ETI/Telecom Italia is using the Bilateral Investment Treaty between Bolivia and the Netherlands, through the use of a Dutch company set up without an address and which only has a postal letter box. ETI, a subsidiary of Telecom Italia, is the biggest shareholder of ENTEL and a company practically without employees. It is part of a group of Dutch companies which include International Communication Holding (ICH) N.V. (with no employees) and Telecom Italia International N.V. (with seven employees), the holding company of Telecom Italia. It was established by Telecom Italia in the Netherlands in order to benefit from tax advantages offered in the country, and the Bilateral Investment Treaties which it has signed with a number of countries in the South.

A case has been brought against ETI/Telecom Italia, Telefónica, ICSID, and the Dutch Government for not respecting the right of the Bolivian people to a sovereign development in the Permanent People’s Tribunal which is meeting at the moment in Lima, Peru organised by a bi-regional network from Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Therefore, international civil society organisations signed below, in solidarity with the Bolivian people, vigorously condemn the decision of ETI/Telecom Italia to freeze the accounts of ENTEL in New York, calling on the company to end its litigation in ICSID and to respect Bolivia’s sovereignty.


Alianza Social Continental; Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y el Caribe; CAOI, Perú; Movimiento Boliviano por la Soberanía y Integración Solidaria de los Pueblos, Bolivia; Jubileo Sur; Acción Ecológica, Ecuador; ACIN-Colombia; ACSUR Las Segovias, Estado español; Agrupación Rodolfo Walsh, Argentina; ASUD, Italia; ATTAC Argentina, ATTAC Chile,Ayllus del Perú, Perú; Bolivia Trópico Cbb, Bolivia; Campanya “Qui deu a Qui”, Cataluña ;Campanya « No et Mengis el Món”, Cataluña; CEIBA-Amigos de la Tierra Guatemala; Censat-Agua Viva, Colombia; Centro de Mujeres Candelaria, Bolivia; CNDC, Bélgica; Colegio Alvino Maestro, Perú; Confederación General de Trabajadores del Perú, Perú; Confederación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas de Bolivia- Bartolina Sisa (CNMCB-BS); Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (CSTUCB); CONFEUNASSC C-N-C Ecuador; Consejo de Amautas Indígenas del Tahuantinsuyu, Bolivia; Consejo NAC-Pueblos Originarios, Perú; CRBM, Italia; Cross Cultural Bridges-Holanda/Bolivia;Dialogo 2000, Argentina; Ecologistas en Acción, Estado español;Encuentro Popular, Costa Rica; Entrepobles, Cataluña; Estados Unidos, FEANSIRTRASALUD, Venezuela; Federación de Mujeres El Alto, Bolivia; FEJUVE El Alto, Bolivia; FENASINDPRES, Venezuela; FENATRAU, Venezuela; FENTAP, Perú FENTRASEP, Venezuela; FERMYPE, Bolivia; FETRATEL, Venezuela; FOESIFV, Italia; Food and Water Watch, EEUU; Foro Social SMP, Perú; Fredimadd, Bolivia; Fuerza Socialista Bolivariana de Trabajadores, Venezuela; Fundación de Investigaciones Sociales y Políticas (FISYP, Argentina); FUTEV, Venezuela; Institute for Policy Studies, EEUU; MIPES, Perú; Ojalá, Holanda; OMAL-Paz con Dignidad, Estado español; Organización Desarrollo Comunitario, Perú; Oxfam International, Bolivia; Programa Chile Sustentable, Chile; Red Intercultural, Ecuador; Red Jubileo, Perú ; Rede Brasil sobre Institucoes Financeras Multilaterais, Brasil; REDES-Amigos de la Tierra (Uruguay), Seis Federaciones del Trópico, Bolivia; SINAFUM, Venezuela; Sindicato STEE-EILAS, Euskadi; Taller Ecologista, Argentina; Teatro-Remte, Bolivia; Terre des Hommes, Italia; Transnational Institute, Holanda; Xarxa de l’Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Estado español;


Anonymous said...

What a shame: You - aswell as the signing organizations - have not understand that this "nationalization" is damaging the bolivian image. It does not matter if its ETI or CLHB who are demanding Bolivia, the real problem is that future investments are highly improbable under these conditions. So if you think that Bolivia will rise ignoring the international context, well, go ahead and waste your time.

Anonymous said...

So now bow to the demands of multinational capitalism. Give freely your land to drown in a hydroelectric dam and light the streets of a fair city while you live in a cardboard box. Surrender your maize and potatos to become a licencee holder of Monsanto and grow as you´re told and be thankful for the crumbs falling of the board table; oh yes, and sacrifice your childrens right to live in a world whoose resources they own. Sacrifice these basic human rights for bucks and balance sheets. It´s called progress (but for who)?
Go unto the world and ask the people of the Niger Delta about the benefits they have reaped out of oil exploration, speak with Colombias palm oil refugees and delve in the history of Central America to find out more about the benign works of the United Fruit Company also know as El Pulpo.
And while youre at it, why don´t you tell us what your stakes are in Santa Cruz´s bid for independence?

Bolivia Rising