Bolivia Names New YPFB President

(Argus, Patricia Garip, 19.Nov.2019) — Bolivia’s fragile interim government appointed Jose Luis Rivero Sandoval the new president of state-owned oil and gas company YPFB.

Rivero, who replaces Oscar Barriga, is a former YPFB geologist who previously worked in Mexico, Venezuela and the US.

His first task is to “recover gas reserves, because the gas business could deeply diminish and affect the country’s economy”, according to a statement issued by the hydrocarbons ministry, which is now headed by Victor Hugo Zamora. Bolivia’s pipeline gas exports to Brazil and Argentina have not been directly affected by the unrest.

Bolivia’s new vice-minister for hydrocarbons industrialization, marketing, transport and storage is Iver Antonio Pino. Bolivia’s new mining minister is Carlos Huallpa.

The new appointments build on the emerging interim administration of Jeanine Anez, a former conservative senator who declared herself president following the tumultuous 10 November resignation and exile of longtime socialist president Evo Morales.

Her interim presidency is recognized by the US, the UK, Brazil and tentatively by Russia, which still says Morales was ousted by a coup. But the EU and most other countries remain cautious, partly because Anez was sworn in without a requisite quorum in the legislature, which was boycotted by Morales’ socialist party allies. Mexico and Venezuela say Morales was the victim of a coup. His detractors say he manipulated the 20 October elections to ensure his victory for a fourth presidential term.

Yesterday, Anez named a military general to head the hydrocarbons agency ANH, with a mandate to restore fuel supply to the La Paz region, where Morales supporters are blocking roads and the Senkata fuel terminal in El Alto outside of La Paz, causing food shortages that the military is addressing with airlifts. Today the military escorted tanker truck convoys of LPG and motor fuel through the restive region to replenish supply.

This afternoon, Bolivia’s armed forces said that after the exit of tanker trucks from the Senkata fuel terminal, protesters bombed part of the installations that it said could cause great damage to the population should the attacks spark an explosion.

In a separate communication, the ANH said fuel sales in La Paz will be limited to 100 bolivianos ($14.48) for gasoline and 300 bolivianos for diesel per vehicle per week, with a ban on fuel sales in external containers, until the crisis at the terminal is resolved. LPG canisters are also subject to rationing.

Anez is under pressure to convene new elections by late January, but ongoing unrest focused on La Paz and Cochabamba will make it difficult to fulfill the constitutional timeframe.

The Organization of American States (OAS), which had determined that the October elections were tainted by irregularities, will meet tomorrow to address the Bolivia crisis.

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