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The Lithium Coup: Democratically Elected Bolivian President Victim of U.S.-Backed Right-Wing Military Coup

The democratically elected President of Bolivia Evo Morales has been deposed in a military coup. The coup, targeting the socialist and progressive Morales, is backed by the United States and Donald Trump.

Morales was forced to resign his Presidency under pressure from the head of the armed forces and the general commander of the Bolivian police, an action backed and likely organised via the right-wing US-linked opposition.

It was on October 20 that Morales won 47.1% of the vote in the first round of the Bolivian general election. The opposition, undoubtedly aided by CIA agitators, organised violent protests across the country and Morales went public with warnings of an imminent right-wing coup of the type attempted in Venezuela earlier this year.

“I resigned so that [opposition leaders] Mesa and Camacho would stop persecuting, kidnapping, and mistreating my ministers, union leaders and their family members, and so that they stop hurting [the workers]”

Evo Morales

Wishing to end the violence, a conciliatory Morales offered further elections which were rejected by the opposition as violence continued.

Fellow Latin American leaders including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Argentine President-elect Alberto Fernandez have firmly stated their support for Morales and condemned both the coup d’état and the organised campaign of violence that proceeded his resignation. Further support has come from Nicaragua, Cuba and the Non-Aligned Movement.

The far-right Jair Bolsanaro and Donald Trump have pledged their support for the opposition as have their usual neoliberal allies in the European Union.

The coup has also been condemned by British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and the U.S. Green Party’s Jill Stein.

The Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard has offered Morales political asylum in the country, yet there is at this time no independent confirmation of the Bolivian President’s liberty or safety.

There is a growing belief amongst many that the latest attempt to unseat Morales is as a result of the immense lithium reserves in the country. A Geological Survey of the Salar de Uyuni salt flats has shown that the area alone contains 9 million tons of lithium, over a quarter of the world’s known reserves.

As the green movement grows around the world and countries begin to outlaw diesel and gasoline-powered cars, prices for lithium have rocketed. This encouraged Bolivia to seek foreign investment, opening the country to capitalism and allowing the Devil in the front door.

Bolivia secured a $1.3bn investment from Germany’s ACI Systems and was scheduled to begin working on the lithium industry in Bolivia in order to generate $1bn per year in profits, demands for metals such as cobalt, nickel and lithium soaring as the German auto industry looks to urgently take a commanding position in electric vehicles. The deal was considered essential to the future of the auto industry in Germany.

The deal provoked a string of protests in Bolivia over the number of benefits local communities would have received from the deal, protests that Morales believed were organised by the opposition and their U.S. backers. The U.S., of course, has little interest in seeing Germany take the lead in the future of auto manufacturing, nor the knock-on benefits that would be seen across the E.U.

The Bolivia/ACI Systems deal was cancelled just seven days ago and local Governor Carlos Cejas publicly blamed agitators from both inside and outside the state of undermining development in the Potosi region.

Morales wanted to utilise Bolivia’s lithium reserves in the same way Saudi Arabia has utilised oil, setting the global price for the mineral. The scenario would have brought unprecedented wealth into Bolivia, wealth that would undoubtedly have been distributed into the social projects that have become the norm under the socialist leadership.

The United States can never countenance the success of socialist states. To continue the illusion of capitalist success and socialist “failure” they have regularly attempted to suppress socialist movements throughout the world with unjustified sanctions to destroy the economy, violent insurrection and the imposition of far-right military dictatorships. The imperialist campaign of abuses allows the lie of “socialism doesn’t work” to continue as the United States hides their hand in affairs.

The kind of headlines the U.S. never wants to see | Washington Post, screenshot

Bolivia has seen a radical transformation under Morales and socialism which has seen them, alongside Venezuela, become a prime target for the U.S. empire.

Under Morales illiteracy has been lowered to a mere 2.4% from 13% in 2006, unemployment has been lowered to 4.1% from 9.2% in 2006, moderate poverty has been lowered to 34.6% from a huge 60.6% and extreme poverty has been lowered to 15.2% from 38.2%.

Morales, the first indigenous President of Bolivia, made huge strides in tackling racism, sexism, inequality and poverty in Bolivia. His economic reforms that saw taxation on the oil and gas industry allowed for massive social spending and the transformation of the country. He successfully reduced Bolivia’s dependence on the World Bank, IMF and U.S. backing, making as many enemies in the process as would be expected.

An echo of the dark days of Operation Condor and the likes of Pinochet, the U.S. backed military coup for resources must be resisted and socialists throughout Bolivia have called for international solidarity.

Friends of Bolivia have organised a protest this coming Thursday in London.

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