Bolivia has brought two electricity supply companies owned by the Spanish utility Iberdrola under state control.
Troops were sent to their headquarters in La Paz and Oruro as a decree announcing the nationalisation was signed by President Evo Morales.
He justified his actions by accusing the companies of irregular and exploitative charging:
“We considered this measure necessary to ensure equitable energy tariffs in the departments of Oruro and La Paz and to see to it that the quality of electricity service is uniform in rural as well as urban areas.”
It is not the first time the left-wing president has dealt the nationalisation card. He has already taken over telecommunications and other energy-generating concerns.
Although popular among Bolivia’s poor – critics say the policy is deterring foreign investment in the country.