Left: Bolivian President Evo Morales, courtesy of BBC News
(La Paz, Bolivia) Bolivia's President Evo Morales announced that he is placing his country's energy industries under state control.
Morales said on Monday he ordered the military to occupy Bolivia's natural gas fields, while threatening to expel foreign firms that do not recognize state authority.
The decision is the start of a process to nationalize all of Bolivia's natural resources. Morales said that the next industries will be the mining and forestry sectors.
"The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources," said Morales. "The looting by the foreign companies has ended."
Brazil and Aregntina are Bolivia's largest natural gas customers. Analysts are divided on the effects that the move will have on world energy prices.
Bolivia has the second-highest natural gas reserves in Latin America, behind Venezuela. The landlocked nation has an estimated 54 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, but is not a major exporter of crude oil.