LA PAZ – Bolivia’s government said on Thursday that it would not tolerate pressure from protesters amid an inter-regional dispute over the distribution of revenues from a major natural gas field.
President Evo Morales’ administration made the remarks in response to anti-government protests that have brought Sucre, the Andean nation’s constitutional capital, to a virtual standstill.
“We’re not going to tolerate pressure from anyone,” Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera told members of the media at the presidential palace in La Paz.
The southeastern provinces of Chuquisaca (whose capital is Sucre) and Santa Cruz, the country’s largest and most prosperous, are locked in a dispute over the precise location of a major gas field and the distribution of the revenue the project generates.
Garcia Linera said the border between the two provinces was legally established more than a century ago and “cannot be touched.”
Protests in Chuquisaca promoted by civic groups have left that province virtually paralyzed for more than a week, with roadblocks in Sucre and blockades set up on highways that provide links to the airport and other parts of the country.
The precise location of the gas reserves is to be determined in a technical study commissioned by Bolivia’s Constitutional Tribunal, the vice president recalled.
The Incahuasi gas field, which is being developed by a consortium led by French energy major Total, has reserves totaling around 2.2 trillion cubic feet and contributes between $4.3 million and $4.6 million in income monthly for Bolivia’s economy.
A 2016 technical study determined that the field was located within Santa Cruz province, but Chuquisaca says the area in question is situated within one of its municipalities.
The Constitutional Tribunal froze inter-governmental transfers of revenue generated by the field last December and ordered a new study to determine its exact location.