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People's World - November 22, 2019

"Conclusions are in order. First, a coup did take place in Bolivia, and the U.S. government had a big role in planning and facilitating it. The coup in Bolivia thus joins a long list of U.S. coups aimed at stabilizing the capitalist world order. This one took some doing, sort of like those in Guatemala (1954) and Chile (1973)."

The socialist government of Bolivian President Evo Morales took power in February 2006. He and Vice President Álvaro García Linare on Oct. 20 had been elected to their fourth terms in office. A coup culminating on Nov. 10 removed them—a coup that the U.S. government had a big role in bringing it about.

A motive existed. The Morales government was vulnerable. And resources—read agents—were in place.

Bolivia’s socialist government had achieved successes and so represented the threat of a good example. Over many years, that’s been a motivating factor for other U.S. interventions. More immediately, Bolivia was bucking colonial or imperialist requirements that a dependent nation may not hold back on the delivery of wealth taken from nature. At issue this time was lithium, not the silver, tin, oil, or natural gas Bolivia has previously exported.

Bolivia’s lithium deposits amount to as much as 70% of the world’s total. Lithium is essential to the manufacture of electronic devices, computers, smart phones, and especially batteries—think electric cars. European and Canadian corporations tried but were unable to gain access.

The Morales government had required at least 50% control of foreign extraction projects; proceeds went toward social development. As regards lithium, foreign companies would have partnered with one of the two state-owned Bolivian companies. Eventually, contracts broke down or never came to fruition.

Recently, two Chinese companies were on the verge of signing contracts with the Bolivian government. China produces almost two-thirds of the world’s lithium batteries and, according to Reuters, “controls most of the world’s lithium processing facilities.” The U.S. government faced the prospect of China gaining exclusive access to Bolivia’s lithium.

Incentive, however, is not enough. U.S. interventions require favorable conditions on the ground. The setting in Bolivia must have looked encouraging to U.S. officials. They had allies. These are the European-descended, relatively wealthy Bolivians who, biased against the poor and the indigenous, have mobilized frequently and often violently against Bolivia’s first indigenous president. The so-called “civic committees” in Bolivia’s four eastern departments have provided leadership. That’s where Bolivia’s production of oil, natural gas, and soy is concentrated, along with its wealth.

U.S. Embassy officials had conspired with the civic committees. The committees had enabled racist assaults and mayhem and had encouraged a separatist movement and an assassination attempt against Morales. The government ultimately expelled the U.S. ambassador, Drug Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. When the time came for a coup, Bolivia’s opposition was ready and prepared. ...
Read full report at People's World