LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — President Evo Morales nationalized the Bolivian electricity distribution subsidiaries of the Spanish energy company Iberdrola in a public ceremony Saturday.
Morales issued a decree allowing the takeover of shares in Empresa de Electricidad de La Paz (Electropaz) and Empresa de Luz y Fuerza de Oruro (Elfeo), which supply energy in this Andean nation.
Soldiers guarded the installations of the electricity distribution companies, marked with signs reading: "Nationalized."
In the ceremony at Bolivia's government palace, Morales also announced the expropriation of an investment management company and a service provider belonging to the Spanish energy giant.
Morales said he had "been forced to take this step" to ensure that electric service rates remain "equitable" in the regions of La Paz and Oruro.
The Spanish government said in a statement that it regretted Bolivia's decision to nationalize companies that included "Spanish, Argentine and American companies among its shareholders."
Spain said it hoped "the process of assessing the value of the nationalized company is done with high standards of objectivity that would establish the just compensation to which shareholders are entitled."