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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Press abuzz over Bolivia gas move
Workers of Bolivia's state-owned oil company (YPFB) hold the Bolivian flag
Bolivia's vast gas reserves are now under government control

The decision by Bolivian President Evo Morales to place the nation's gas industry under state control has become the leading story in many South American newspapers.

Commentators in Bolivia itself welcome the move, which they believe rightly gives the government control over a vital and lucrative national resource.

Elsewhere, the story is also front-page news, notably in Brazil, which is one of the most affected nations.

"Tension between neighbours" runs a headline in the influential Folha de Sao Paulo.

However the daily goes on to say that the Brazilian government "avoided openly criticising Bolivia" and made it clear it believes that "nationalisation is a sovereign act... Brazil exercises full control over the riches within its own territory".


A headline in Brazil's Jornal do Commercio says that "Morales uses bluff as a negotiating lever".

The paper argues that Bolivia stands to lose large amounts of foreign exchange if it cuts gas supplies to its major customers.

Rejecting working in harmony with foreign companies can only lead to economic isolation and the impoverishment of the population
Commentator in Estado de Sao Paulo

"The Brazilian government believes that Morales is bluffing in order to hold negotiations. The timescale of 180 days for foreign companies to adapt to the new framework reinforces this belief."

Columnist Suely Caldas, writing in another leading daily, Estado de Sao Paulo, issues a warning to Mr Morales in a piece headlined "The price of populism".

"Nationalism taken to its extreme and rejecting working in harmony with foreign companies can only lead to economic isolation, a weakening of productive investment, an inability to generate jobs and the impoverishment of the population."

In Argentina, the leading daily Clarin publishes an opinion poll, showing 42% of respondents feeling the Bolivian move will hit Argentina, and 30% believing it will impact positively.

Argentina's La Nacion speaks of "fear over the radicalisation of Morales".

In Bolivia itself, a headline in La Prensa declares "The petrol companies moan and make threats, but they'll negotiate".


La Paz's El Diario hails the decision as "A Historic Measure".

"Supreme Decree 28.701 which establishes the nationalisation of the nation's hydrocarbons constitutes a historic measure of the government lead by Evo Morales Aima."

"It returns control over the natural resources to the state."

The eyes of the world are riveted on the person of President Evo
El Deber

An editorial in El Deber, which publishes in the lowland and business-oriented city of Santa Cruz, carries the headline "May it be for the good".

The paper argues that Bolivia has long been ignored, neglected or derided by the wider world, and Mr Morales' initiative has at last put it on the map.

"The eyes of the world are riveted on the person of President Evo. The ears of a world startled by the depth of the changes under way."

"At the margin of what President Evo has put in train, a legitimate desire arises: May God ensure that this stellar moment in which we live turns out to benefit the country and its people, who so often in the past have been victims of bitter frustrations."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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