Bolivia clips wings of Spanish airport firm

Bolivia clips wings of Spanish airport firm
Morales has a history of nationalizing Spanish firms operating in Bolivia. Photo: Aizar Raldes/AFP
Bolivia's President Evo Morales has ordered the nationalization of Spanish airport operator SABSA after accusing the firm of failing to invest enough in local business.

Morales on Monday announced he plans to take over the SABSA airports serving Bolivia's three largest cities.

Morales, who made the announcement at a news conference in the city of Cochabamba, promised negotiations with SABSA, an affiliate of the Spanish firms Abertis and Aena, within 180 days on the amount of compensation.

He also ordered the military to take control of the three airports "to safeguard the public interest" and warned that any attempt to impede the nationalization would mean  prosecution for those involved.

The company has run the airports serving La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz since 1997, when they were privatized. It was acquired by the Spanish group Abertis-Airports in 2005.

It is the third nationalization affecting Spanish investments in Bolivia in less than a year.

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