Bolivian President Evo Morales announced yesterday that his government is completing the nationalisation of Bolivia's electricity sector by seizing a Spanish firm's stake in the grid.
Mr Morales told crowds massed outside the Government Palace for a May Day rally that bringing the country's power grid back into public ownership was "a fair homage to the workers and the Bolivian people who have fought for the recovery of their natural resources and basic services."
The Movement for Socialism (MAS) government has contacted Spanish authorities to assure them that it will deliver fair compensation for the take-over of Red Electrica Espanola's (REE) assets.
It has tasked an independent auditor with setting compensation to be paid to the Spanish company within 180 days.
Bolivian soldiers peacefully took over the company's offices in Cochabamba, hanging Bolivia's national flag across its entry.
REE owned and ran around three-quarters of Bolivia's power grid. The Spanish government holds a 20 per cent stake in the company.
Mr Morales said REE bosses had invested just £50 million in Bolivia's power grid since it was privatised in 1997, while the MAS government has "invested £136m in generation and others profited."
Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez made a similar criticism of Spanish oil transnational Repsol when her government nationalised its Argentinian operations last month.
Within months of his election to office in 2006, Mr Morales announced that his government was bringing the country's oil and gas sector back into public ownership.
He began extracting concessions from transnational energy companies, renegotiating contracts to give Bolivians greater control of and a bigger share of profits from the country's important natural gas industry.
On 2008's May Day he announced the complete nationalisation of leading communications company Entel from Telecom Italia.
And May Day 2010 saw the governmnet take control of Bolivia's main hydoelectric plants from British transnational Rurelec and France's GDF Suez.
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