Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Frank M. Lacey

First Page



The nationalization of the Venezuelan oil industry on January 1, 1976, can be viewed in a sense as a culmination of more than half a century of striving on the part of Latin American republics to become the masters of their own most important resources, one that has seemed at times symbolic of their very destinies. It is a process that has involved nearly every major country in Latin America. It is one that has been resisted by the prevailing economic, political, and legal institutions, and in the course of which not only major business enterprises but nations as well have been brought into sharp and often damaging conflict. One need only mention the Mexican expropriations of the 30's, and the dramatic series of confrontations stemming from that. In our own day, the nationalization of the International Petroleum Company interests in Peru produced misunderstandings and problems that seemed for some time nearly insoluble. This process has brought before us searching questions regarding the functions and limits of private property and national sovereignty. They are questions that will be with us for some time to come.