Woman in water amidst boats

El petróleo puede causar la próxima ola de refugiados

NAIROBI – La idea de que la abundancia de petróleo puede ser una maldición es vieja, y casi no hace falta explicarla. Cada tantas décadas, los precios de la energía se van por las nubes y lanzan una carrera en busca de nuevas fuentes de petróleo. En algún momento la oferta supera a la demanda y los precios vuelven a caer. Cuanto más dura y abrupta la caída, mayor el impacto social y geopolítico.

El último gran derrumbe del petróleo se produjo en los ochenta, y cambió el mundo. En 1980 yo trabajaba en la industria petrolera tejana y vi el crudo de referencia estadounidense trepar a 45 dólares por barril, equivalente a 138 dólares de hoy. Pero en 1988, el petróleo se vendía a menos de 9 dólares el barril, tras perder la mitad de su valor sólo en 1986.

El abaratamiento de la gasolina benefició a los automovilistas, pero para el resto, los efectos fueron catastróficos, y sobre todo para la Unión Soviética, cuya economía era altamente dependiente de las exportaciones de petróleo. La tasa de crecimiento del país cayó a un tercio de su nivel de los setenta. El debilitamiento de la Unión Soviética trajo consigo agitación social que culminó en 1989 con la caída del Muro de Berlín y el colapso del comunismo en toda Europa central y oriental. Dos años después, la Unión Soviética misma había dejado de existir.

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