LA PAZ, Bolivia – Bolivia’s defense minister on Wednesday backed accusations by President Evo Morales that some multinational energy companies and political rivals were conspiring to destabilize his new leftist government.
‘’There are indications that a foreign multinational could be financing a slow and gradual, but systematic, process of destabilization,” said Defense Minister Walker San Miguel, without naming any companies.
He said there still is no strong proof of the alleged plot or knowledge of whether the plotters are operating in Bolivia or abroad.
But he said members of the main opposition party led by former President Jorge Quiroga are linked to it.
Morales, who has been in office just over two weeks, has promised to increase state control of Bolivia’s vast natural gas reserves and renegotiate contracts with several multinational energy companies.
Bolivia is one of South America’s poorest countries, but it has the largest natural gas reserves after Venezuela.
Multinational companies have invested U.S.$3.5 billion (euro 2.93 billion) in the country.
A close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Mo-rales said Tuesday night that Chávez’ recent warnings that the U.S. government was planning to destabilize his government ‘’have not been in vain.”
The potential plot is not related to Chávez’ accusations, according to San Miguel, as internal Bolivian intelligence does not point to U.S. involvement.
Andina S.A., a subsidiary of Spanish-Argentine oil company Repsol YPF, has been under investigation for the last several months for alleged oil smuggling.
‘’Oil has been taken out without authorization, and for that documentation has been al-tered,” Alvarado said in an interview which the Spanish daily El Mundo published Wednesday. AP