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of Enron and Yacimientos Petroliferos company. It is officially a “capitalized” company, which means that it is partially privatized, with the state allegedly retaining a 50-percent ownership stake. But the actual ownership structure of Transredes includes Enron with 25 percent, Shell with 25 percent, two Bolivian Pension Funds with 34 percent, and former workers of YPFB with 16 percent. Amazon Watch reports, however, that many of the former YPFB workers sold their shares in Transredes for very little to the private companies FondElec and Indosues, so that in fact, private corporations hold a controlling interest in the company. Under the terms of the capitalization, Enron was to make significant investments in Transredes, which credible allegations suggest that it did not do. To complicate matters, Latin Trade and the Bolivian Congress charge that Enron’s Transredes shares were not acquired through an open bidding process. Other bidders had only 13 days notice before the deadline, while Enron had five months of consultations with that’s rightPresident Goni’s office. Two days after Enron was awarded the contract, the company had a detailed 20-page memorandum of understanding signed, sealed, and delivered. Fast work, no? The companies positioned to benefit from the prospective pipeline to Chile are similarly sleazy. One of them, Repsol YPF of Spain, has an especially repellent history in Bolivia. Under Goni’s previous presidency, Repsol acquired the drilling rights to 1.3 million hectares in the ecologically fragile Indigenous Territory of the Isiboro Secure National Park prepared by Arthur D. Little and expeditiously approved by Goni’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. The experts at Arthur D. Little who drafted the EIA were to TIPNIS as Jayson Blair was to The New York Times: They wrote the story without ever leaving the United States. Over the course of the next four years, Repsol neglected or manipulated consultations with affected communities, deforested, contaminated, and generally trashed every place it needed to drill or drive. In return for these privileges, the company gave to the TIPNIS organization various walkie talkies, sports equipment, and a personal computer. Ex-President Goni has had a cozy relationship with the three private interests promoting the Bolivia-Chile gas pipeline, including Repsol, Sempra late ’90s, he was a Board member of the Institute of the Americas at the University of California-San Diego, where Sempra and Pacific Liquified Natural Gas, the consortium that includes BG and Repsol, are corporate members. The Institute is fairly up-front about its objectives: “Among many benefits, members receive direct access to important Latin American policymakers, updates on political and economic trends in the region, and local and international networking opportunities.” The Institute also flogs its close ties to the multilateral development banks that fill in the financing gaps in the extravagant projects of the corporate sector: The World Bank, the Inter-American al economic agencies of the U.S. government have also provided financial support to Institute programs over the years… Today, this inter-American organization with members from countries throughout the hemisphere and a professional staff of 20, is in an ideal position to facilitate increased ties among corporations, as well as to build bridges between the corporate community, the government sector and the public. In this particular case, the Institute has also facilitated building pipelines. And the deal that Pacific LNG was about to cut with Goni was a particularly profitable example of the Institute’s international networking possibilities. The President of BG, Edward Miller, remarked to the press a few months ago that the companies participating in the pipeline stood to make about $1.3 billion annually, while paying the Bolivian government about $70 million in taxes. How’s that for a benevolent development project? So as the dust settles in La Paz, it seems clear that, for the average Bolivian, this deal did not have a lot going for it. Assuming that the $70 million were not stolen by Goni and Co., a fairly questionable premise to start with, the Bolivian population of about 8.3 million people was about to sell off the country’s natural gas reserves for about eight dollars a head. This is probably more than they got from the Brits for the bat droppings, but it isn’t really a whole lot. For his part in the pipeline caper, President Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada got a oneway ticket out of Bolivia. He’s probably due in Washington momentarilyif he isn’t already herewhere a sinecure for him can be set up at the World Bank or the IDB. Now the wheels start to turn and the press starts to churn out the usual story to explain the unceremonious departure of a member of the international elite from a position of power: Those dumb Indians are just lashing out at whomever they can find to blame for their own backwardness. But the truth is that Goni was a deserving and exemplary target, both for his symbolism and for his actions. Whenever a white man in a suit comes along talking about development, he is really talking about theft. This seems to apply whether the subject is silver mines, oil wells, gas pipelines, “non-traditional” exports like pineapples and artichokes, or underwear assembly plants. These deals are always going to provide economic growth, jobs, and capital, but somehow, they never quite do. What they actually bring is unemployment, poverty, environmental devastation, sweatshops, and ultimately, dead people in the streets. We’re hoping that this next president in Bolivia, Carlos Mesa, can do better. But judging from his recent picture in the Washington Post, draped in the presidential sash and surrounded by army men and those ubiquitous guys in the suits, it’s not looking good. Based in Washington, D.C., Gabriela Bocagrande is awaiting the arrival of the former president of Bolivia. 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11/7/03