LA PAZ, Sept 13 Bolivia will not compensate
Spanish infrastructure company Abertis for the
nationalization of its local airport unit SABSA in February,
President Evo Morales said on Friday.
However, Morales said he wanted to speed up compensation to
Spanish utility Iberdrola, whose assets were seized by
the Andean country last year.
Morales was elected on pledges to redistribute wealth in
South America's poorest country and is highly critical of the
privatizations of the free-market 1990s.
He says SABSA, which was put into private hands in the
1990s, had failed to fulfill investment commitments in the three
international airports it ran.
"I'm convinced that instead of us compensating them, they
should pay us. ... We know there has been big business"
benefiting them, Morales said during a speech in the central
city of Cochabamba.
Abertis, which had asked for $90 million in compensation,
appeared surprised by Morales' declarations.
A press officer said Abertis had been negotiating a friendly
agreement with Bolivia for months. The company had suspended an
arbitration, started before the nationalization, because the
government's wouldn't let it hike airport charges, the officer
Morales struck a different tone regarding Iberdrola, whose
local units supplied power to thousands of people in the cities
of La Paz, El Alto and Oruro.
"We want to publicly say that with the Iberdrola companies
we have responsibilities, ... and we want to speed up the
resolution of this issue, otherwise Bolivia could be poorly
looked upon by investors," Morales said.
Iberdrola declined to comment.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has urged Latin
American governments to respect Spain's investments in the
region, and his foreign minister has warned that state takeovers
could hurt diplomatic ties.