BOLIVIA: LOOTING THE LITHIUM


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As Gerald Celente stated in a Publisher’s Note in last week’s Trends Journal, when it comes to the U.S. and Latin America, “It’s all about the bottom line: the money corporations can make by robbing and killing anyone that tries to stop them.”  

In an interview last week, ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales stated the U.S.-led Organization of American States (OAS) was a key player behind the “coup” that forced his resignation and asylum.  He further stated that the main impetus behind the coup was control of Bolivia’s huge reserves of lithium, a main component of electric vehicles.

Bolivia has the world’s largest known reserves of lithium, approximately nine million tons.

Interestingly, Morales was close to signing a multi-billion-dollar lithium deal with China, which produces more electric cars than any other country.  But with a much more conservative regime taking power in Bolivia, which is friendlier to western corporate interests, the China deal is not likely.

After news of Morales’ resignation, the stock price of Tesla surged. Tesla is the U.S. company that uses the most lithium for electric cars.  

Worldwide demand for lithium is predicted to more than double over the next five years.  Morales had gained heroic stature in his country for nationalizing its lithium reserves, along with the sizeable natural gas reserves, and then re-directing the profits to benefit the poor and middle class.

What’s an lndium?

In addition to lithium, another Bolivian valuable resource vital to business interests is indium.

This rare, metallic element is an important component of computer, smartphone, and TV screens.  Bolivia has one of the two largest deposits in the world along with Canada, with the potential to produce double the amount of Canada each year.

In 2012, Bolivia re-appropriated indium reserves that were being mined by the Canadian firm South American Silver, with the government taking control of exploration and planning at the huge indium reserve in southwestern part of the country.

Bolivian officials claimed the government had never agreed in writing to give a foreign country the right to operate the mine and take out reserves. 

Therefore, Morales’ government took measures of government control in reaction to protests by indigenous natives living on the land where the huge indium reserves were located.  At the site, native farmers and miners had occupied the grounds armed with explosives. 

Protesters at one point took five employees of the Canadian firm hostage.

Fast Forward…

Morales was forced to step down on 10 November after a controversial election and the loss of support from Bolivia’s police and military.  Called in to analyze the election results, the OAS concluded the vote should be “annulled” due to “irregularities.”

In his latest interview, Morales claims, “Nowhere did it say that there is fraud.”

His contention is supported by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).  After analyzing the voting data, it found no basis for the OAS findings, stating there was “no evidence that Bolivian election results were affected by irregularities or fraud.”

The Co-Director of CEPR, Mark Weisbrot, noted it was “very unusual and highly questionable for the OAS to issue a press statement questioning election results without providing any evidence for doing so.”

After Morales and his four top aides were pressured to resign, the fifth in succession, Jeanine Anez, assumed the role of interim president.

Anez then ignited anger among the indigenous people of Bolivia, representing over 50 percent of the country’s population, by entering government headquarters displaying a bible and stating, “Thank god, the bible has returned to the Bolivian government.”

As reported last week in the Trends Journal, Ms. Anez, whose party had won only four percent of the vote in the recent election, is a polarizing figure in Bolivian politics. Among her divisive comments, she has stated, “I dream of a Bolivia without satanic indigenous rituals, the city isn’t made for Indians, they need to go back to the countryside!”

Since assuming her role as interim president, Ms. Anez has gone beyond her role as a “caretaker,” and instead has imposed presidential mandates. Among them is a decree exempting any military or police personal from prosecution for use of extreme force.

She has infuriated protesters, who had taken to street in support of Morales, by publicly asserting she may support prohibiting the main opposition party, the socialist Movement for Socialism (MAS) led by Morales, from taking part in any future elections.  

Currently, the MAS has a majority of the seats in the Bolivian senate. MAS senators have made it clear that Anez is not the legitimate president, since under the country’s constitution, they must approve of the move.  

The current Minister of Government has accused these MAS senators of subversion and sedition.  The senators did not attend the ceremony where Anez took the oath of office, out of fear for their safety.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Should Anez follow through on the threat of banning the popular socialist party, the level of violence on the streets, which has already led to the killing of dozens of protesters, will likely escalate.  However, tensions did ease on Sunday when both chambers of Bolivia’s Congress unanimously passed legislation that paves the way for new elections. 

No date was set, and the new interior minister is calling for the government to jail Morales for the rest of his life, accusing him of inciting anti-government protests that amounted to terrorism. 

Ms. Anez, again overstepping her role as interim president, has broken off relations with Venezuela and Cuba. 

And she now recognizes Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, a position held by the U.S. and some 50 other nations. As noted in previous Trends Journals, Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, was legitimately elected by the people according to international observers.

Furthermore, despite numerous attempts by the U.S. to promote Guaidó and elevate discontent within Venezuela, he has not gained mass appeal among the population and the military still supports Maduro.

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