Everybody Wants Nationalization

Already some are strategically using the obscure poll that reports that nearly 76% of Bolivians want nationalization of its hydrocarbons. Even if Evo and Co. do not represent the majority of Bolivians, nor the majority of poor Bolivians, they are saying “see, most Bolivians agree with us!” Funny thing is that Evo never really pushed for nationalization until most recently.

I am not going to critique polling methods, nor question the reliability of the findings. However, I think as this El Deber Op/Ed piece states correctly that most people don’t really understand what nationalization really signifies and its possible consequences.

Nationalization seems like a noble thing. I think everybody in Bolivia wants to see the fairest deal that we can get. I am all for strategically using Bolivia’s god-given natural resources to be used to help many Bolivians up the ladder out of poverty. I even think that the oil companies should hold some sense of social responsibility and not see the Bolivian situation as a free-for-all, where profit is the only guiding principle.

The question asked in the poll was “Do you approve or disapprove of the nationalization of the hydrocarbons?

Being no expert in polling techniques, I have a hard time coming terms with such a black and white question. I wouldn’t want to corner myself into such a position without offering some other countering questions of my own, such as, “I approve of nationalization only if the administration of the state company was fully depoliticized even if it means bringing in foreign experts who hold no loyalties to the ruling party that placed them in that job” or “I disapprove of nationalization if it means placing Bolivia in such monumental debt due to the required indemnization”.

Would the 76% of 850 Bolivians who answered with the approval of nationalization have said so if they knew that the administration of YFPB would be such the same as any of the pre-capitalized industries that were teaming with party cronies? Such a monopoly gives no incentive to provide efficient service and really provides the ruling coalition parties greater access to state resources.

Would the 21% of 850 Bolivians who answered that they disapprove of nationalization have said so if they knew that perhaps the proposal meant still partnering with foreign oil companies, splitting profits but keeping ownership of the reserves in state control? No one really knows what nationalization really means as it only remains as a simple query: for or against nationalization. Those on the left are not doing a good job of articulating of what they mean when they say nationalization.

2 thoughts on “Everybody Wants Nationalization

  1. The first thing would be to know whether the group the polling firm used was representative of Bolivian society or not. It seems that, much as Apoyo, Captura Consulting concentrated only on the major urban centers. I have not seen population statistics, but I would say that is somewhat representative?

    Also, it is interesting to see that for the first question, whther to reform the Hydrocarbons law or not, even people in El Alto were for somewhat reforming it. That indicates to me that not everybody who lives in El Alto is a radical. Another interesting thing was the support of nationalization coming from Santa Cruz. The cruceno support is even higher than in Cochabamba and La Paz. That proves that not everybody who lives in Santa Cruz is a radical. 🙂

    These conclusions remind me of a researcher friend who was talking about the theroy of collective acction and how it was common for social movements to use coercion to further their cause.

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