A qui appartiennent les richesses de la Bolivie ?

Il y a quelques mois, Evo Morales est devenu le premier chef d’Etat amérindien élu démocratiquement en Bolivie. La population bolivienne est indienne à 62 %, et issue du métissage à 30 %. Or pendant 500 ans, le pays a été dirigé par les puissances coloniales et leurs descendants. Pour une grande partie du XXe siècle, les groupes indigènes n’ont eu en pratique ni droit de vote, ni voix au chapitre. Leurs langues, aymara et quechua, n’étaient même pas reconnues pour la conduite des affaires publiques. L’élection d’Evo Morales est donc un événement historique, qui suscite une vive émotion en Bolivie.

Mais sur la scène internationale, la nationalisation des gisements de pétrole et de gaz par ce nouveau dirigeant a fait sensation. Tout au long de sa campagne, Morales avait bien affiché son intention de renforcer le contrôle de l’Etat sur les ressources énergétiques nationales, sans pour autant exproprier les entreprises privées ; il ne voulait pas chasser les investisseurs étrangers (évidemment, nationaliser ne signifie pas nécessairement exproprier sans indemniser correctement). Fait peut-être surprenant pour les politiciens d’aujourd’hui, Morales était sincère. Soucieux de sortir son peuple de la misère, il est conscient que la Bolivie a besoin pour sa croissance des compétences de spécialistes étrangers, dont il faut rémunérer les services à leur juste valeur. En revanche, les bénéfices des propriétaires étrangers ne sont-ils pas disproportionnés ?

Les initiatives de Morales sont largement encouragées par les Boliviens, pour qui les “ privatisations ” (ou “ capitalisations ”) mises en œuvre sous la présidence de Gonzalo “ Goni ” Sanchez de Lozada sont une escroquerie : la Bolivie n’a perçu que 18 % des recettes ! Les Boliviens se demandent pourquoi des apports d’environ 3 milliards de dollars donnent aux investisseurs étrangers le droit à 82 % des vastes réserves d’hydrocarbures du pays, évaluées aujourd’hui à 250 milliards de dollars. Certes, on ne connaît pas encore le montant exact des bénéfices, ni la vraie valeur des investissements, mais on estime que les investisseurs auraient récupéré tout leur argent en quatre années.

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