Archive for December, 2009

Bolivia to Implement Autonomies after Elections

December 29, 2009

La Paz.- Five types of governments, four autonomous and one national, will coexist after April 2010 regional elections in Bolivia, affirmed Deputy Minister of Autonomies Saul Avalos.

The authority, quoted by Cambio daily on Monday, considered that the elections apart from being historic will refound the country completely.

Four autonomous governments will be established in different territorial divisions of the country, a move that will change the national destiny, on April 4, day of the departmental and municipal elections, said Avalos.

He recalled that the first article of the new Political Constitution of the State, which was ratified on January 25, recognizes Bolivia as a State that is decentralized and has departmental, regional, municipal and indigenous with rural origins autonomy.

The autonomies only have executive and legislative but not judicial power. However, in the case of the process of indigenous communities, the autonomies will count on the Demarcation of Jurisdiction Act, which limits the differences between indigenous and regular justice.

Source: La Demajagua

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Bolivia to invest $117m in home gas connections

December 29, 2009

Bolivian state-owned energy company YPFB said that it is planning to invest $117 million to install 150,000 natural gas connections to homes in 2010, The Herald Tribune reported.

The national director of YPFB’s gas networks division, Oscar Lopez, told the daily that the cost of the program will be covered with government and company funds. Over the past several years, YPFB has installed 168,000 gas connections for homes, including 52,300 in 2009.

The home connections are a central plank in the energy policy of socialist President Evo Morales, who says use of the fuel to meet domestic demand should take priority over foreign markets.

YPFB plans to have 61 percent of the homes in El Alto, an impoverished suburb of La Paz, hooked up to gas networks by the end of 2010 and to achieve 100 percent coverage by 2011. That would make El Alto the first large Bolivian city in which all residents are serviced by gas networks.

The installation of an additional 150,000 connections will mean an increase in domestic gas consumption from 8 million cubic meters (282 million cubic feet) per day to roughly 9 million cmd.

Source: MENAFN

Bolivia Expects to Launch Its First Satellite in March

December 29, 2009

TODAY 12-29-09] Bolivia expects to construct and launch Tupac Katari, the country’s first telecommunication satellite and cooperative project with China, within three years, the Bolivian government announced Dec. 22.
    Bolivia said that negotiations between the two potential partners, which were being facilitated by Chinese Great Wall Industrial Corp., have been successful and that a deal is likely to be reached soon.
    “We may be able to sign the contract making the satellite construction viable on March 31, according to schedule,” Bolivian Deputy Telecommunication Minister Roy Mendez said in a statement.
    Mendez said the $300 million project would be funded by secured credit from a Chinese bank.

Source: Satellite Today

BOLIVIA UNDERTAKES LAND REFORM AND CLEANING UP

December 29, 2009

LA PAZ, Dec 29 (NNN-PRENSA LATINA) – The Bolivian National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INRA) confirmed that Santa Cruz and Oruro will be the next provinces where the land will be cleaned-up.

According to Juan Carlos Rojas, Director of the institute, Bolivia has nearly 109 million hectares in total and 106 of them can be cleaned-up and that is more than 97 percent that is considered as rural in the country.

He underlined that INRA is responsible for the cleaning-up process, the redistribution of land even though the agrarian issue includes other components linked to production and productivity.

Through that institution, the Bolivian government gave over a million hectares to the indigenous communities since 2006.

The ruling administration decided to improve the redistribution of lands policy this year in favour of indigenous people and those who want to work on them, despite objections from producer sectors resisting the reversion process of the idle properties.

Vice Minister of Lands Alejandro Almaraz assured that the process, which was implemented since 2006, will be redoubled from next year during the second consecutive Morales administration (2010-2015).

Source: PRENSA LATINA

Peru and Bolivia also want their share of the gold found in Spanish galleon

December 29, 2009

The government of Peru announced it will join the dispute between US treasure-hunting company Odyssey Marine Exploration and Spanish authorities. The dispute involves 500 million US dollars in gold and silver coins rescued from a Spanish galleon off the coast of Portugal. Bolivia has also approached the Spanish government on the issue.

Foreign Affairs minister Jose Antonio García Belaunde said Peru it will appeal against the ruling of the federal court in Tampa (Florida) which requires the US company to return to Madrid the gold and silver coins arguing they were processed and minted in Peru during colonial times, according to Andina news agency.

Odyssey President Gregg Stemm and Vice President and General Counsel of the company, Melinda MacConnel, anticipated in a statement Odyssey will also present “appeals” to resolve the dispute before it faces the Spanish Government.

Last Tuesday December 22nd the US District Judge filed an order backing a magistrate court’s June decision that the salvage reportedly should be returned to Spain. The decision was brought as a result of Spain’s suit seeking the treasure believing it to be recovered from the Spanish warship “Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes”.

Odyssey Marine Exploration recovered the coins from the ocean floor nearly 100 miles west of the Strait of Gibraltar in international waters and disputes Spain’s claim, going so far as to recognize the possibility that it did not come from the “Mercedes”. They have code-named the project “Black Swan” and have been holding the 17-ton recovery pending the outcome of the litigation.

According to Spain, the “Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes” was sunk by British gunboats in 1804 as it was returning from Peru loaded with treasure. Judge Steven Merryday in his order said that “the ineffable truth of this case is that the Mercedes is a naval vessel of Spain and that the wreck of this naval vessel, the vessel’s cargo, and any human remains are the natural and legal patrimony of Spain,” stated Judge Steven Merryday in his order.

Odyssey for its part released a statement regarding the decision which said in part: “Judge Merryday’s ruling serves to move this case to the appellate court faster, where we feel confident that the legal issues are clearly in our favour. We will file our notice of appeal with the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals within the required time and look forward to presenting our case in that forum”.

Meantime the Bolivian government approached Spain suggesting sharing the recovered treasure since it presumes the coins were minted at the Casa de la Moneda Potosi.

“Bolivia has informed both Odyssey and the Spanish government that we would like a numismatic expert to identify the origin of the recovered treasure and that it should be shared with institutions such as the Casa de la Moneda de Potosí”, said Bolivian Minister of Culture Pablo Groux.

“Once we have the numismatic expert’s opinion we will have a sufficient degree of certainty and legitimacy for the Bolivian state to make a proposal to Spain, which we hope will be received accordingly”, added Groux.

During Spanish colonial times Potosí was under the jurisdiction of the viceroyship in Lima, Peru. Potosí was also famous for its precious metals particularly a hill with an extraordinarily high content of silver.

Groux said it will wait for the rulings on the appeals (from Odyssey and Peru) to try and establish “some kind of formal agreement with Spain”, avoiding the courts.

“We have no interest in litigating with Spain, which could very well consider the discovery a shared cultural patrimony”, suggested the Bolivian official.

Source: MercoPress

Bolivian Gov. to Deepen Agrarian Revolution

December 29, 2009

Imagen activa

La Paz, Dec 28 (Prensa Latina) The National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INRA) of Bolivia confirmed that Santa Cruz and Oruro will be the next departments where the land cleaning-up, which is an action promoted by the Government, will be concluded.

  According to Juan Carlos Rojas, Director of that entity quoted by Cambio daily on Monday, there are important advances and the results in Pando department are the best example.

Bolivia has nearly 109 million hectares in total and 106 of them can be cleaned-up, that is more than 97 percent that is considered as rural in the country.

He underlined that INRA is responsible of the cleaning-up process, the redistribution of land even though the agrarian issue includes other components linked to production and productivity.

Through that institution, the Bolivian government gave 1 009 626 hectares to the indigenous communities since 2006.

The ruling administration decided to deepen for 2010 the redistribution of lands policy in favor of indigenous people and those who want to work them, despite the decision of producer sectors east Bolivia of resisting the reversion process of idle properties.

Vice Minister of Lands Alejandro Almaraz assured that process, which was implemented since 2006, will be redoubled from 2010 during the second consecutive Morales administration (2010-2015).

Source: Prensa Latina

Bolivian president wishes people peace, development in 2010

December 28, 2009
Bolivian President Evo Morales said Sunday that he wished the Bolivian people peace, development, freedom and democracy in 2010.

During his new year message broadcasted by local media, Morales said, “I want to invite you (the Bolivian people) to continue working to advance toward a united, dignified and sovereign Bolivia. Today more than ever the change is in us.”

Morales said Bolivia recognizes and includes the marginal sectors, like indigenous and poor people, who before did’t have the opportunity of working in the government.

According to Morales, the main challenge of Bolivians is to keep the country’s unification together with the four kinds of autonomies: departmental, regional, municipal and indigenous.

He said the current times are of brotherhood, peace, family reunion, adding the Bolivian people should be more proud of living” in this beautiful land.”

Morales said Bolivians next year will walk together toward a big and inclusive country.

“I hope these holidays will bring welfare and happiness to all Bolivian families. The country we want is in our heart. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” the president said.

Source: Xinhua

Bolivia to Invest $117 Million in Gas Connections to Homes in 2010

December 28, 2009

LA PAZ – Bolivian state-owned energy company YPFB plans to invest $117 million to install 150,000 natural gas connections to homes in 2010, La Paz daily La Razon reported on Saturday.

The national director of YPFB’s gas networks division, Oscar Lopez, told the daily that the cost of the program will be covered with government and company funds.

Over the past several years, YPFB has installed 168,000 gas connections for homes, including 52,300 in 2009.

The home connections are a central plank in the energy policy of socialist President Evo Morales, who says use of the fuel to meet domestic demand should take priority over foreign markets.

YPFB plans to have 61 percent of the homes in El Alto, an impoverished suburb of La Paz, hooked up to gas networks by the end of 2010 and to achieve 100 percent coverage by 2011. That would make El Alto the first large Bolivian city in which all residents are serviced by gas networks.

The installation of an additional 150,000 connections will mean an increase in domestic gas consumption from 8 million cubic meters (282 million cubic feet) per day to roughly 9 million cmd.

According to figures from the Bolivian Hydrocarbons Chamber, total natural gas production in the country fell 12.76 percent to 36.65 million cmd this year, compared with 42.01 million cmd in 2008.

Gas exports to Brazil and Argentina also fell from an average of 33 million cmd in 2008 to an estimated 27.3 million cmd this year, primarily due to a decline in demand by the former.

Foreign energy companies such as Brazil’s Petrobras cut gas investment in Bolivia after Morales’ government mandated in 2006 that YPFB must have a majority stake in all of the country’s natural gas projects.

But a consortium led by Spain’s Repsol YPF announced last month that it plans to invest $1.5 billion to boost natural-gas production in Bolivia over the next five years.

Source: Latin American Herald Tribune

Bolivia Demands Public Service Accountability

December 28, 2009

La Paz, Dec 27 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian Institutional Accountability and Struggle against Corruption Minister Nardy Suxo said on Sunday public servants are to benefit the people and not to make a profit from the resources the State assigns to citizens.

  Suxo referred to public servants that use their posts to gain personal benefits and abuse their authority.

She recalled the denunciation against Santa Cruz Prefect Ruben Costas by the General Attorney’s Office, for causing economic damage to the state.

According to Suxo, the governor approved an autonomous referendum totally unconstitutional, and embezzled 10 million bolivianos ($1.4 million) from the State.

The Anti-Corruption Ministry also denounced Costas in November before the District Attorney’s Office for blocking the access to public information the 14 times that documents related to mismanagement of the prefecture were requested.

Faced with that stance, Suxo urged the Santa Cruz prefect to present evidence and prove that the accusations against him are false.

The minister said on Friday that the authorities denounced for illegal acts and damage to the State would not face any hindrance to run for reelection in the April elections, as long as they are not declared guilty, but she announced that her office would insist on the trials untill concluding.

Source: Prensa Latina

Bolivia issues national weather alert

December 27, 2009

Bolivia has issued a national alert for irregular weather patterns. Changing climate in the country has led to dangerously high levels of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Researchers say the elevated levels of UV radiation are caused by global climate change. The situation has delayed the rainy season, leaving clear skies, and little precipitation.

The intense summer sun also penetrates the cloudless skies easily as a consequence. Excessive exposure to UV rays can damage the skin, cause sunburns, result in eye damage such as cataracts, or lead to skin cancer.

Many Bolivians now use umbrellas to block the sun’s harmful rays. Vendors have eagerly taken to the streets to sell the shady items to those seeking protection.

Source: CCTV