NotiEn - A Newsletter on Energy Policy Issues in Latin America
January 27, 2011Vol 2, Issue 4
Bolivia bets on Lithium & Nicaragua leans toward renewables

This issue of NotiEn examines the energy and natural-resources policies of two of the poorest countries in Latin America: Bolivia and Nicaragua. Both countries are lagging in economic development and are trying to make the best use of their natural resources to help raise the standard of living of their people.


In Bolivia, President Evo Morales' administration has outlined a set of policies that ensure that the country can benefit fully from its vast lithium reserves. This mineral is essential for the developing batteries and power cells used in the increasingly popular hybrid automobiles. The Bolivian government believes that it can contribute to global efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while promoting economic development.


Correspondent Andrés Gaudín reports that the Morales administration is welcoming foreign participation in its lithium industry--but with strict conditions. Investors must provide technological expertise and help build a battery-manufacturing industry in Bolivia. They will not be allowed to simply extract Bolivia's lithium reserves for their own purposes.


In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega's administration is seeking ways to boost electrical production in a country where a large share of the population does not have access to electrical power.


But correspondent Benjamin Witte-Lehbar writes about how this is about to change.  Thanks to a series of ambitious production goals and a flurry of international loans and investments, Nicaragua--rather than just catching up to its neighbors--could soon take a regional leadership role, particularly in renewable-energy sources.


Carlos Navarro - Editor

In This Issue...
A Note From the Editor
President Evo Morales Insists that Lithium Reserves Benefit Bolivians
Energy-Stropped Nicaragua Leans Green in Effort to Power-up
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President Evo Morales Insists that Lithium Reserves Benefit Bolivians
By Andrés Gaudín
Salar de Uyuni - Bolivia

Historians agree that the pillaging of Bolivia's enormous mineral riches, since the 15th century Spanish colonial period, has been the determinant factor in the country's poverty and dependency. Bolivian President Evo Morales agrees with those assessments and says that what happened during the past five centuries with silver, gold, tin, antimony, bismuth, tungsten, copper, lead, zinc, gas, and iron, among other natural resources, will not happen this time with lithium.


"We want to send a clear message to the industrialized countries and their businesses: all investments are welcome, but they should understand that we have learned from history and we will not repeat our old mistakes. Our raw materials will no longer be exported to be industrialized abroad, providing foreign jobs and taking jobs from Bolivians," said Morales in November 2008.  He repeated the statement two years later, in December 2010, when he met in Tokyo with a group of Japanese business people. Read more...


Energy-Stropped Nicaragua Leans Green in Effort to Power-up 
By Benjamin Witte-Lebhar
Renewable Energy

After long lagging behind its Central American neighbors in both electricity production and connectivity, Nicaragua, the largest country in the isthmus, is counting on ambitious--and green-oriented--expansion plans to leapfrog into a position of regional leadership.


As of 2009, Nicaragua's total installed electricity capacity was approximately 970 megawatts (MW), less than half the size of the power grid in neighboring Costa Rica (2,500 MW), Central America's electricity leader, according to a recent report by the UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).  Even El Salvador, which has roughly the same population size but just one-sixth Nicaragua's land area, has a significantly larger installed capacity (approximately 1,500 MW).  Guatemala, Panama, and Honduras have generating capacities of roughly 2,370 MW, 1,700 MW, and 1,600 MW, respectively. Read more...

Energy Policy, Regulation and Dialogue in Latin America


NotiEn is an original newsletter with breaking news that analyzes and digests relevant and contemporary information in energy, alternative energy and energy policies in Latin America. A complimentary service provided by the University of New Mexico as part of LA-ENERGAIA Project funded by the US TICFIA Program