South America's energy center

South America's energy center

Fabio Squillante
Interview with Guadalupe Palomeque de la Cruz, Vice-Minister of Foreign AffairsPresident Evo Morales' goal is to focus Bolivia's energy strategy not only on gas exports, but also on the development of alternative energies

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Bolivia, partly due to its remarkable exports of natural gas, is a country with great economic potential, which benefits from enviable growth rates. Its President, Evo Morales, who has been in office for over 10 years, intends to make the country Latin America’s “energy center” by focusing on new sectors such as alternative energy sources and infrastructural networks. This is what Guadalupe Palomeque de la Cruz, Deputy Foreign Minister of Bolivia states, recalling that in 2016, the country’s economy grew by 5 percent, while this year is already close to 4.5 percent. The La Paz government is also working on new infrastructural plans to strengthen the country’s internal connections, such as the “two oceans” train: a mastodontic project for the construction of a four-mile long rail line that should lead from the port of Ilo, Peru, the Pacific Ocean, to Santos, Brazil, on the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the Bolivian territory. A project that sees Germany in the foreground as a financing country.

What are the government's plans for developing the national economy?

Since 2006, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, as the country has been officially known since 2009, has been led by President Evo Morales. Over these years, major goals have been achieved. The Bolivian economy proudly takes first place in South America and is still growing. In 2016, the economy grew by over 5 percent, and this year we are already close to 4.5 percent. It is not only about figures, however. The public policies developed over the last few years have enabled solid results to be achieved, including a substantial reduction in extreme poverty, better distribution of wealth and greater development, not only of the country’s central axis, but in all nine departments. Over the last few years, efforts have been made to improve internal territorial connections through road infrastructure. We have recently promoted what is probably the largest infrastructural project in South America, the so-called “Bi-Oceanic Railway,” a four thousand-kilometer railway line that will connect the Port of Ilo, in Peru, on the Pacific Ocean, to the Port of Santos, in Brazil, on the Atlantic Ocean, crossing our country’s territory to achieve that connection. Germany is at the forefront for financing this project.

Guadalupe Palomeque de la Cruz

Guadalupe Palomeque de la Cruz

Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bolivia

She was ambassador to South Korea and Director General of Bilateral Relations of Bolivia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has fought for maritime claims, the decriminalization of cocaine and multilateral integration. As a lawyer, the Deputy Minister specializes in International Trade and Development Sciences. A diplomat with 26 years' experience at the Bolivian Diplomatic Academy, she has worked with representatives of her country in Mexico, Brazil and Switzerland.

What is the energy industry's role in Bolivia's economic development?

Our goal is to become South America’s energy center. We are working towards this, not only in the industry for which the country is known, gas exports, but also in the development of alternative energies, with the support of other countries. One of the most important projects is that of Bulo Bulo, a development in the Cochabamba region for the production of urea and ammonia fertilizers through the use of natural gas. That project is being developed in partnership with South Korea’s Samsung, which aims to export production to countries in the region.

Which countries are you collaborating with most, in addition to South Korea?

In the energy industry there is extensive cooperation not only with countries in the South American region, but also with Asian and European countries. One of these is Italy, and there are a diverse array of Italian companies in many sectors of our economy.

Are there plans for the exploration and development of new deposits in the country?

Bolivia’s territory is expansive, over one million square kilometers, and there is still much to explore. The Bolivian state-owned company, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), is open to greater investment. As President Evo Morales says, we are looking for new partners, and we are open to collaboration.