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Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales increase their "cooperation"

By Tony Pagliaro

06.02.06 | In an unprecedented move Bolivia and Venezuela signed a bunch of agreements on January 23, 2006. Evo Morales executed them on behalf of his country even if, at that time, he was not yet President of Bolivia. Through those contracts the presence of Venezuelan officers and advisors is now dramatically increasing in various sectors of the Bolivian economy. Let’s see them:

• Oil and Gas. PDVSA has already opened an office in La Paz. The purpose is to cooperate in Bolivia’s on-going nationalization of its oil and gas resources. Venezuela will send its “experts” to Bolivia to advice on nationalization alternatives and industrialization possibilities. PDVSA will also advise and technically assist YPFB on evaluation and development of projects and supply technology where/when needed.

• Education. Chávez will grant over 5.000 scholarships to Bolivian youngsters from the rural areas. Over 100 professionals or graduates will undertake studies in Venezuela. Venezuela will cooperate with Bolivia’s alphabetization efforts. Coaches and trainers in various sports will be provided to Bolivia.

• Health. Venezuela will train Bolivian medical personnel. Venezuela will supply medical products to take care of malaria and tuberculosis problems. Poor Bolivian citizens will receive eye care.

• Rural Development. Cooperation will increase in the areas of land development, land ownership, and water use. Technical personnel will also be exchanged in this sector. Venezuela will purchase different agricultural goods from Bolivia.

• Diesel in exchange for foodstuff. Venezuela will provide 200.000 barrels per month of diesel oil. It will be partially paid for (75%) with Bolivian chicken and soja.

• Security. Special agents will be provided by Venezuela to cooperate in Morales security. During his foreign trip prior to becoming President of Bolivia, Morales was protected by Venezuelan special security agents.

• Natural Disasters. Venezuela has provided Bolivia with Zodiacs to be used in the event of floods. In addition forty experts in handling natural disasters have already arrived into Bolivia.

• Social Development. Venezuela will advise Bolivia on how best identify its citizens with modern personal documents.

In the meantime, while Chávez is advising Morales on how to nationalize its oil and gas resources, investment in the sector has fallen to the lowest level since 1996. In 2005 investment was of 13.1 million dollars, less than a third of the amount invested in 2004. In 1998 and 1999 the annual flow of investment was of over 500 million dollars. This is what uncertainty produces.

But the big question is, are we talking about Venezuelan “solidarity” or about Chávez intrusion in Bolivian matters? Time will say, but you can guess.

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