Bolivia Irks Spain With Airport Nationalizations
By Ryan Villarreal | February 22, 2013 11:47 AM EST
Bolivian President Evo Morales’ nationalization of three Spanish-owned airports this week has drawn strong criticism from Spain amid strained economic and political ties between the two countries.
Morales charged that the Spanish company Sabsa, which owned airports in the country's major cities of La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, had been “maximizing profits” at Bolivia’s expense. In particular, he said Sabsa had failed to deliver promised improvements to its facilities despite reaping more than $2 million in annual profits.
Sabsa, a joint venture between Spanish conglomerate Abertis Infrastructuras SA and Spain’s airport authority AENA, had a contract to operate the airports until 2025.
Morales said Abertis-AENA had promised to invest $26 million in Sabsa from 2006 to 2011, but only ended up putting in $5.6 million, Spanish news outlet EiTB reported.
Abertis, which owns 90 percent of Sabsa, said Bolivia has caused it losses by raising the salaries of airport employees 140 percent since 2005 and by freezing airport tariffs in 2001.
On Monday, Morales ordered police to occupy Sabsa’s offices and instructed the ministry of public works, services and housing to take over operation of the company.
Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said his country would “mobilize” its resources and that of the European Union against Bolivia's act of “aggression,” adding that Madrid would have to “rethink bilateral relations as a whole,” Mercopress reported.
Morales said he would hire an independent firm to assess the appropriate amount of compensation for Sabsa’s investors, which would be paid within 120 days.
Since taking office in 2006, the socialist Bolivian leader has expropriated several Spanish companies in the telecommunications, energy and oil sectors.
In December, Morales nationalized two Spanish-owned electrical utilities companies after claiming that they had overcharged customers, and earlier in May he expropriated the subsidiary of Red Electrica, another Spanish energy company.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- In Photos, Typhoon Rammasun Blasts the Philippines
- Typhoon Rammasun Claims 18 Lives in China, Incurs $4.32B Losses (PHOTOS)
- Ellen DeGeneres Caught Cheating with Mutual Friend Before Portia de Rossi’s Rehab – Reports [PHOTOS]
- Malaysia Airlines MH17: Vital Black Boxes Finally Land in Hands of Malaysian Authorities, Rebels Announce Ceasefire (PHOTOS/VIDEOS)
Join the Conversation
- Flight MH17 Attack: Russians Claim 'Putin A Terrorist,' Memorial at Dutch Embassy Overflows [PHOTOS]
- Malaysia Airlines MH17: Russian Govt Found Tinkering Wikipedia Crash Info
- New Zealand and China Decide to Boost Defence Ties
- Scientists Warn MERS Virus Could be Spread Airborne
- British PM Cameron Urges Tough Sanctions Against Russia
- Windows Phone 8.1 Update Rollout: 20 Nokia Lumia Phones Eligible and 13 New Features to be Added
- Google Nexus 8 Release Date Soon Along with 2 More HTC Android Tablets – Reports
- Moto 360 Price Speculations, Key Features, Strategic Release Date, Design: A Watch That is More Than Just Time
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Apps Leak Online, Five Fresh Features to Expect from the Android Smartphone
- Three New Moto G Successors Spotted in FCC Document Dubbed Moto G2, Moto M and More --Reports
- Apple Logo on iPhone 6 Might Double as Notification LED; Roughly 80M iPhone 6 Units Ordered Targeting Release Date—Reports
- iPad Air 2 Release Date Will Skip IGZO Panel; To Rollout with Super-Slim iPad Mini Air