Sunday, July 03, 2005

"no al neo liberalismo privatisador!!!!!!!!"

That was the subject of the email that Nancy, my friend working in La Paz, sent me. I paste parts of it below:
Hi folks,
Here everything is back to normal, we have water, gas, food, transport and all restaurants and shops are open again. I guess the entire Bolivian police force and all activist are taking a rest, which means PEACE for the rest of us. it was all quite scary and im glad it is over.
so many of you asked me about the crisis we had few weeks ago here in Bolivia. Well, I have written a small report about it. Look attachment!!!!!!!!!! just bear in mind that the report is what WE think, me and the head of the NGO i work for at the moment. It is subjective and emotional!!!
Here almost everybody is for the nationalisation of gas, not just the political activist, but also the bureaucrats. Im for the nationalisation of gas, simply because it will improve accessibility. privatisation will increase the prices of the natural resources drastically meaning the poor will have less access to it or even no access at all, well...........more on the report.
Like I said im for the nationalisation of gas, but im not sure how realistic it is in these days.
I would love to know your opinion. Are you for or against the nationalisation of gas? and please explain why???????? it doesnt have to be long!
I also received her report which elaborates more on the points above, i am not quoting it here for lack of space and time. Anyway, i sent her the following reply:

El capitalismo no es tan malo, después de todo los países más prósperos del mundo son capitalistas. Algunos piden más impuestos y el estado hace más cosas pero en esencia, todos son mercados libres con un número de regulaciones.

¿Es China una excepción? ¿Es una potencia naciente que no es capitalista? Tal vez no, una gran razón del crecimiento que ahora tiene es la apertura a capitales y compañías extranjeras.

Otro ejemplo dramático, echemos un vistazo al mapa de la tierra de noche. Fíjate en lo oscura que es Korea del norte y lo brillante que es Korea del sur. Korea del sur era más pobre que la del norte al final de la guerra de Korea. Los papeles se invirtieron.

Hablando de Bolivia, las privatizaciones (o capitalizaciones) no siempre salieron mal. Desde que Entel fué capitalizada el servicio mejoró mucho, los celulares bajaron de precio, lo mismo con internet. Seguramente puedes encontrar más ejemplos de esto.

Hay cosas que no podemos hacer ya que somos pobres. Por ejemplo no podemos extender la red de alcantarillado y agua potable. Por lo que permitir que una empresa la administre y ponga dinero no parece una idea tan mala. Lo importante, es hacer bien este proceso e imponer condiciones a la empresa.

En el caso del gas no nos importa realmente si queremos nacionalizar o no las reservas de gas. Lo que nos importa es tener la mayor ganancia posible para nosotros. Si podemos negociar con las empresas un incremento a los impuestos/regalías y el precio interno del combustible tal vez tenemos un buen trato, no? La nacionalización es una medida que es muy posible que nos deje más pobres que lo que podríamos ser.

Ahora que echamos a las dos compañías de agua de Cochabamba y El Alto, ¿Que hará la gente pobre que no tiene alcantarillado y agua? ¿Quién pondrá el dinero? ¿Que haremos cuando no podamos conseguir dinero para industrializar el gas?

La compañía de aguas de Cochabamba, efectivamente subió los precios del servicio. ¿No hubiera sido mejor llegar a un acuerdo que beneficie a la compañía y los usuarios en vez de echar a la compañía sin considerar las consecuencias?

Verás, en Bolivia hay mucha corrupción. Si eliges nacionalizar, la compañia estatal será corrupta e ineficiente (ineficiencia implica menos oportunidad para salir de la pobreza) y si eliges privatizar la corrupción hará que el control sobre las empresas no sea bueno.

Tal vez no es el libre mercado lo que ha fallado en Bolivia, tal vez es toda la sociedad. ¿Cual es la solución, ahorcar a todos los políticos e imponer un gobierno del pueblo? El resultado más probable, será la misma corrupción e ineficiencia. El problema es muy profundo.

Dices que la mayoría de la gente está a favor de la nacionalización. Me pregunto que significa la nacionalización en sus cabezas. En todo caso, si es lo que la mayoría quiere, tendrá que ser.
If you want to discuss comments are welcome! :)

3 Comments:

Anonymous Dario said...

I don't think it is a question of capitalism or comunism (and no country has ever been able to realize comunism, always geeting stucked in some dictatorship, so it's no surprise that all rich countries are capitalists).

It's maybe a question of a wild capitalism versus a strong social (democratic) system. It's for sure a question of who comes first, the capital or the people?
Italy is for sure a non comunist country, but we (still) have a public health system as opposed to the private system in the US. And this is one of the many reasons I prefer Italy to the States...
And i could mention the recent years privatisations of train, telephone and other things which only lead these things to be worst and more expensive than before.
What i want to say is that most of the times a nationalised sector makes less people rich but also less people poor, being closer to the majority's needs.

I don't think you can find any example of poor country which became rich thanks to foreign companies exploiting its resources!
It's always the richness of some people casting on the poorness of many others.

So..viva la nacionalización:)

But I agree that corruption can be the biggest problem for Bolivia...but now I don't have time to solve it because i have to go back to work!;)

5:16 AM  
Anonymous eduardo said...

I think that Bolivia did well to capitalize the old state industries. However, what you mentioned about corruption is correct. That is partly due to the fact that so many public sector jobs are dished out as patronage. When a new government takes office, then almost everyone also changes jobs. This reduces the state's ability to "fiscalizar" the capitalized industries. Many say that once Banzer took over for Goni, then all of the gains from this capitalization went down the drain.

I also think that there is a difference in capitalizing the railroads, ENTEL, or LAB than it is capitalizing the oil industry. Natural resources should be held to a different standard, especially water since I consider that a fundamental human right.

I am not for nationalization, because I don't trust my government to adequately administer those valuable resources. However, I do think that ought to be an increase in royalties, and perhaps the new 18%/32% is a step in the right direction.

Saludos!

9:02 PM  
Blogger Alexey said...

Dear Dario, in my email to Nancy i answered to what i understood to be an extreme position, which is abolish free markets. I might also have misunderstood her. That is the position of the social movements in Bolivia. They don't want a, say, Italy or Sweden. They prefer to be something like Cuba. And from the style of leadership they have i would be extremely surprised if it does not eventually degenerate into a dictatorship.

Anyway, you go on to compare wild capitalism and a strong social system. Both of which (seeing from your examples) involve a free market, something that i am in favour. I am also in favor of a big state that supports people with disadvantages. Funnily enough, many persons in Bolivia would like that but nobody wants to pay the taxes for it :).

As for privatizations, i heard about many bad cases as well. What i can't answer is if it is because of the privatizations per se.

In this particular case, which is the gas industry in Bolivia, the privatization has poured a lot of capital to the country. Actually that is why we have the reserves now in the first place! While it was a national industry i doubt there were so many explorations.

Let's see what gets more money for us and be very practical about this. If we want such and such advantage that we get from a nationalization, then let's include that in a negotiation with the current companies. Let's not kick the playing board everytime we are unhappy.

Corruption is a big topic and it will always :). I am also too busy to comment on it. I am afraid you have to assume it is going to exist and take it into account when designing a system.

Thanks to both of you for the comments! Cheers!

2:18 AM  

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