President Mesa proposes hydrocarbon law

July 19, 2004 at 12:00 PM
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LA PAZ, Bolivia, July 19 (UPI) -- Bolivians have voted "yes" to a proposal for nationalizing oil and gas resources and President Carlos Mesa has gone to Congress to turn their wishes into law.

With just 10 percent of Sunday's votes counted, and 40 percent abstention, fully 75 percent of voters said yes to the five questions on the referendum according to the National Electoral Court. Those questions called for repealing the law which had given foreign oil companies control of the fields until 2036, therefore allowing for state takeover of the fields; setting up a national oil company; using taxes on oil production to create jobs, better education, health services, and roads, and using oil as a strategic resource to negotiate with Chile for a corridor to the sea.

After addressing Congress to request the creation of such a law, Mesa said, according to local news accounts, "I will defend, and I imagine that so will Parliament, the will of the people as demonstrated through their ballots."

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