In 1938, the Mexican government expropriated the foreign properties of multinational corporations operating in Mexico, and created a state-owned company (PEMEX). This action had a strong impact in other Latin American countries that saw the Mexican initiative as a proof that a Latin American country could have its own oil industry. This article studies the impact of the Mexican expropriation in Colombia and shows that, even though the Colombians also wanted a national oil company, they did not want to do it through expropriation of private property. The reason of this difference relies on the different political bases of each country's government: while the Mexican government's base was the working class, the Colombian government represented the merchant and industrial elite, who did not want to set precedents of private property expropriation. This difference led to a Colombian nationalist policy that respected the contracts with the foreign corporations.