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Bolivian president expropriates electricity distribution subsidiaries of Spain's Iberdrola

President Evo Morales has nationalized electricity distribution subsidiaries of the Spanish energy company Iberdrola.

Morales issued a decree Saturday 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 the Andean nation.

In a public act at the 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 remained "equitable" in the regions of La Paz and Oruro. Soldiers guarded the installations of the electricity distribution companies, marked with signs reading: "Nationalized."

Telephone calls and emails seeking comment from Iberdrola in Spain were not immediately answered.