June 19, 2013
Oil as a Public Good: Coming to Argentina
Posted on Apr 18, 2012
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has infuriated Spanish oil barons by proposing a bill that would recover a majority share of a petroleum company from a foreign firm that has owned it since the early ’90s.
Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales, or YPF, was founded in 1922 by Argentine military engineer and oil surveyor Enrique Mosconi, who intended to nationalize the country’s oil resources. The plan never materialized however, as foreign petroleum interests, including Standard Oil, helped overthrow the administration in a 1930 military coup.
Fernandez faces an onslaught of sneering criticism from the international business and political communities, which warn that turning a majority of the operation into a public utility would be imprudent, as it would alienate global powers.
But she is not daunted.
“We are the only country in Latin America, and I would say in practically the entire world, that doesn’t manage its own natural resources,” Fernandez said, adding that her proposal “is not a model of statism” but “the recovery of sovereignty.”
William Blake, the 18th century British poet who identified the use of caution in the name of pacifying bullies as follows, would probably agree: “Prudence is a rich, ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.”
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