LA PAZ, Bolivia – President Evo Morales appointed a Marxist journalist to drive Bolivia’s energy policy and a street protest leader to lead the new Ministry of Water on Monday as he announced his 16-member cabinet.
Before his cabinet was sworn in, he reminded them of their citizens’ high expectations.
“I want to ask you personally that this government have zero corruption, zero bureaucracy,” Morales said. “The people are tired of this and it’s got to end.”
The appointment of Andrés Soliz Rada as Minister of Hydrocarbons could signal a tough fight for the multinational gas and oil companies operating in Bolivia.
A lawyer and former member of Congress who fiercely defended Bolivia’s natural resources as a newspaper reporter, Soliz Rada will be in charge of renegotiating energy contracts so that Bolivia’s state petroleum company has majority control and a significantly higher share of the profits.
The new post of Minister of Water will be held by Abel Mamani, a radical civic leader in the slum city of El Alto who brought down two previous presidents with violent street protests and defeated a Bechtel Corp. subsidiary’s plan to provide privatized water at steeply higher rates.
Morales also named a mining union chief to lead the Mining Ministry, and appointed three women cabinet members. Some of the ministers are little known even inside Bolivia – such as Alicia Muñoz, the new Interior Minister, in charge of intelligence, police and the anti-drug fight. AP