Five questions
bolivia | by Miguel Centellas | 20 May, 2004 at 04:13 PM | comments (1) | trackback (0)

President Mesa finally announced the questions for the gas referendum. And although there are five of them, they seem rather vague & almost destined to win a "yes" vote by their very wording (which, I'm sure, was the point). But. Despite that, the questions are unclear as to what they actually mean. So. Here are the questions (my translation):

  1. Do you support the abrogation of the Hydrocarbons Law 1689 promulgated by Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada? Yes or no. ¿Está usted de acuerdo con la abrogación de la Ley de Hidrocarburos 1689 promulgada por Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada? Sí o No.
  2. Do you support the recuperation of the property rights for the Bolivian state of all hydrocarbons at the well mouth? ¿Está usted de acuerdo con la recuperación de la propiedad de todos los hidrocarburos en boca de pozo para el Estado boliviano?
  3. Do you support refounding Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos [the state gas & oil company], recovering state property rights of the actions of all Bolivians in the capitalized petroleum companies, in such a way that it can participate in all the hydrocarbons' productive chain? ¿Está usted de acuerdo con refundar Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos, recuperando la propiedad estatal de las acciones de las bolivianas y los bolivianos en las empresas petroleras capitalizadas, de manera que pueda participar en toda la cadena productiva de los hidrocarburos?
  4. Do you support the policy of Carlos Mesa to use gas as a strategic resource to gain a useful and sovereign exit to the Pacific ocean? ¿Está usted de acuerdo con la política del presidente Carlos Mesa de utilizar el gas como recurso estratégico para el logro de una salida útil y soberana al océano Pacífico?
  5. Do you support that Bolivia export gas in the framework of a national politic that covers the consumption of all Bolivians, foments industrialization of gas in the national territory, charges taxes and/or regalías [the amount returned to productive departments] to the oil companies of as high as 50 percent of the value of production of gas and petroleum to favor the country; that determines the resources of the exportation and industrialization of gas, principally towards education, health, roads, and employment? ¿Está usted de acuerdo con que Bolivia exporte gas en el marco de una política nacional que cubra el consumo de gas de las bolivianas y los bolivianos, fomente la industrialización del gas en territorio nacional, cobre impuestos y/o regalías a las empresas petroleras llegando al 50 por ciento del valor de la producción del gas y el petróleo en favor del país; destine los recursos de la exportación e industrialización del gas, principalmente para educación, salud, caminos y empleos?

The first question is rather redundant, since there are already three different new hydrocarbons laws in discussion in parliament (including the president's proposal). Adopting a new law would automatically abrogate Law 1689. A referendum vote to abrogate Law 1689 does nothing to determine what kind of law people want to replace it.

The second question is confusing. If Bolivians vote to recover state property rights for gas "at well mouth", it says nothing about what the state property rights become immediately after the gas/oil leaves the well mouth (which is an issue for the COB & other groups).

The third question is confusing. I think most people want YPFB to participate in decision-making (something it already does). The question for most people is what kind of role, what percentage of voting power, etc. The part about recovering Bolivian "actions" (essentially stock) indirectly implies that re-nationalizing the industry is not an issue for discussion.

The fourth question implies Chile, of course, but it's interesting that it doesn't mention it. So supporting Mesa's policy doesn't explicitly negate selling gas to Chile at all. Nor does it explicitly mean using the gas resource to gain access to the sea through Chilean territory.

The fifth question is long & rambling, let alone confusing. Although the question mentions gas industrialization, it doesn't do anything about it. Notice that it just asks if voters support a policy that "foments" (i.e encourages) industrialization. It also says the state would charge taxes/regalías "as high as" 50 percent (so they could be much lower). And the final part of the question just states the obvious: the state has the right to spend state coffers on domestic policies.

Currently, there's a great deal of confusion among voters, politicians, and others as to just what the questions are supposed to mean. In just under two months, voters must go to the polls to vote "yes" or "no" to each of these questions. The media campaign is just gearing up. It should be an interesting two months.

" comments

Nice summary. Thanks.--s

Posted by J.Scott Barnard | May 21, 2004 11:48 AM

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"President Mesa finally announced the questions for the gas referendum. And although there are five of them, they seem rather vague & almost destined to win a "yes" vote by their very wording (which, I'm sure, was the point). But. Despite that, the questions are unclear as to what they..."
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