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After Morales Ousted in Coup, the Lithium Question Looms Large in Bolivia

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/11/12/after-morales-ousted-coup-lithium-question-looms-large-bolivia


Lithium is to Bolivia as Oil is to Venezuela. And the greedy corporate assholes want it all. Exploitation is the name of the game. So, should you buy a Tesla or a Cadillac … how 'bout a bicycle?


In an ironic twist, by the time Tesla has captured the lithium concession and figured out how to mine it at altitude (while stealing the profits from it’s rightful owners – the Bolivian people), climate chaos will have consigned the concept of economies beyond the scale of local bartering for rat meat and acorns to the dust bin of history. So we’ve got that to look forward to, which is nice.

Prepare for lots of indigenous protesters to be gunned down. All so electric cars can hit the marketplace with force three decades after they might have made a difference.


My heart screams as I follow this story. The team at the Mining Department of the Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías in Potosi was always willing to extend to our group free advice and at or below cost sample analyses. I know how central that they must be to the lithium issue. The fact that the PEOPLE are once again being robbed makes my blood boil. Please believe the narrative of this story folks. It is spot on. I’ve been there. Unfortunately, I have been waiting for this–knowing that I was powerless to intercede. It is a terrible feeling.


Tesla, M-Benz, Audi, BMW, Cadillac… the electric cars of the future; presently unaffordable for about 80-90% of the people who provide the raw materials and produce them.
Sounds about the correct demographic for Mr. Musk, and cohorts, to smile all the way to their next board of directors meeting. Oh wait; that’s right, he’s already been outed/fined for illegal stock manipulations and other .01%er shenanigans.
Trumpsters drain the swamp so you can fill it with some dead Bolivians, Elon? That ranks right up there with, " we must destroy the village in order to save it. "
Save it for whom, exactly?


You can see clearly what Morales was up against. I have no first hand knowledge of Bolivia, but I have followed the fortunes of Bolivia and Morales ever since the 2010 People’s Climate Conference.

I like and trust Morales - his face - his demeanor, and his response to this coup.

Unfortunately, the glaring line in the first rate article by Vijay Prashad is that no western transnationals would work with Bolivia under Morales terms, and that includes Elon Musk and Tesla. I have been wondering about Musk for a long time now = no more - mud is his name - just another spineless billionaire.

I just watched The Godfather Part II - where old Havana and their casinos pre-Fidel were highlighted - spot on and history repeats itself to some extent.

Lithium - proxy for the Club of Rome’s 1972 “Limits to Growth” bombshell report.

I would like to see Evo Morales invited to the COP summit in Madrid Spain - I would like to see him meet with Ms Greta Thundberg - a long meet - I think Evo could offer our climate warrior invaluable knowledge of the world she is growing up in.


This is the real story, as opposed to the whitewash being sold on mainstream media.


Reminds me of Chile, 9/11/73. And the beat goes on…and on…and on.

Evo was smart to get out alive. I don’t think he’s done with his vision. Hopefully this is
just a strategic retreat.


Evo is the real deal. We know those like him by how much evil hates them. Comic book reality, but true.


There is absolutely no evidence that has been presented in this article or anywhere else that Tesla supported a coup in Bolivia, but it sure to be ammunition for the ongoing smear campaign against Tesla led by automotive-monopolists, stock short-sellers, and the oil and gas industry which have ironically been trying to appeal to the Left in their campaign.

In fact, like the Bolivian government, Tesla was opposed to the deal with German ACIS and viewed it as monopolistic and anti-competitive. Tesla has been trying to bypass this and buy lithium from Bolivia directly. Tesla is trying to get divorced from ACIS, which is the company actually making material moves to support the coup.

Also, the claim the “Tesla’s stock increased astronomically” is also false. It is up ~4% since the coup and was already on an upswing before the coup, an amount it fluctuates on pretty regularly (it is a volatile stock). Press coverage about the stock swing also make no reference of the events in Bolivia. For reference, the stock increased by 30% after the Q3 shareholder call.


Back at the start of the year, I blogged on this topic and how Germany and China were competing for this resource.

Those who are trying to link the coup to the reversal of the agreement with Germany are ignoring the long history of division within Bolivia and how Morales once facing the opposition of the elite class there, was losing support of his base by actually cooperating with the corporations.

Have it been forgotten how so recently, his policy was burning the forests, and building a highway through pristine forest, too?

Bolivia is behind almost half of the total expansion of oil and gas blocks in the region since 2008. In addition, Bolivia is one of two countries in the region—Ecuador as well—where fossil fuel extraction is allowed even in national parks.

He lost his eco-halo a long time ago.

It is the confirmation that one country cannot go against global capitalism even when child labor is legalised by Morales.

I am not disputing the illegality of what was a coup, nor that the new government is right-wing, but let us not ignore that many ordinary people were losing trust in Morales and it was this that facilitated the take-over.


Surprising that right wingers would go so militaristic to acquire resources to build cars that don’t burn gas.

I’ve been wanting an electric car, but if my purchase of one goes to making these fascists rich, I don’t want one. I would rather walk. Those right wing fascists are the worst!

These right wingers make me hate this world more and more. What’s left for me? Nothing. They poison everything with their greed!

  1. Bolivia has 70% of the world’s lithium
  2. Lithium is used to make batteries
  3. Batteries are needed for hybrid or electric vehicles
  4. Hybrid or electric vehicles reduce demand for diesel and gasoline fuels
  5. Reduced demand for diesel and gasoline reduces fossil fuel company profits
  6. Morales wanted a portion of money from lithium mining to stay in-country to help improve quality of life.

Fossil fuel companies, therefore, wanted to muck up Morales’s plan and destroy his lithium mining plans. What better way than to support and stage a soft coup.

Follow the $$.


As I heard from folk affiliated with mining in South America, when it comes to resources under indigenous people’s lands is not a question of ‘if’ the company can get them. Its a question of who’s willing to take the least money to ensure the company gets the resources, and what’s the least you can pay them.


Yes Nighthawk. Evo probably also got out his family and maybe other people close to him. The psychopathic .00001% have no human empathy or compunctions to hinder any actions to gain and maintain control. I suspect that Evo’s conditions would have kept some control over the resource. That was unacceptable to the transnationals.
Like Lula, Evo has retreated to live and fight again with the people.
This parasitic behavior is evident all over the world. An Ecuadorian law student friend of mine recently discovered that in 2012 the “socialist” govt. ceded 25% of Ecuador to extractive mining. The concessions were made with few strings attached almost free. The law was passed clandestinely and there was no public knowledge. She was working at the Ministry of the Environment and/or the IRS at the time and even she did not know about the law. I feel that Correa was offered the same kind of deal. Cede or die along with your family. He now lives in Belgium. As John Perkins has told in “The Confessions of an Economic Hitman”, Ecuador has lost a president, Roldos, who fought for the people before. I was on a tour in the Presidential Palace and asked the tour guide which of the many presidents whose portraits lined the wall had been assassinated by the CIA. Without hesitation she pointed to Roldos.
We are witnessing an uprising around the world against neoliberal extractive policies. I expect to witness many more.


I’ve heard always follow the money so I wonder how much stock in Tesla the Generals in Bolivia bought or were given to over through Morales.


You have no idea of what you are talking about.
(1) Evo Morales called a referendum to change the Bolivian Constitution so he could stand to a third presidential period. When the referendum was rejected, like so many other socialist dictators Morales ignored the people’s decision and presented himself as a presidential candidate for an unconstitutional third term.
(2) The presidential elections were audited by the OEA who accused Morales of ‘gross manipulation’ of the results and called for new elections.
(4) Morales was forced to resign by the people notby any coup-de-etat, the people that were sick and tired of him.
(3) Before resigning, Morales tried to sell the Li to German companies and to Chinese communists interests.
(4) Bolivia does not have any commercially viable Li resources and this is why nobody has mined it commercially.
You should get your facts right before publishing fake news, misinformation and similar garbage,

You can burn 50% ethanol in your present car tomorrow with no alterations. You can burn 100% ethanol with a soft ware download thereby bypassing Elon Musk, the modern John D. Before Prohibition half the cars in the US ran on ethanol. John D. and his ilk funded the prohibition movement. Henry Ford, George Washington Carver and many others have shown that everything provided by fossil fuels, ancient plant material, can be produced by recently grown plant material. The CO2 from the combustion is taken from the air in July and returned to the air in December. No net gain and ethanol can be distributed through existing infrastructure. No charging stations needed. All the talk about electric cars and little about ethanol leads me to conclude that the .00001% is propagandizing the 99% as usual to maintain control.
The problem with ethanol is that it is too democratic. Every locality could have its own still and use locally available feed stock or waste to ferment, distill and distribute the ethanol at 50 cents a gallon more or less. Nothing gives the parasites on Wall Street nightmares more than the thought that the 99% will awaken and democratize and decentralize their control of civilization.


Vijay, you didn’t mention tungsten. Ninety percent of the tungsten produced in the world is in China. So they set the price. But quite a bit of unmined tungsten is in Bolivia. Tungsten is a hard, hi-temp-resistant material used to cut metals.

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Thank you for the morale support. I do appreciate it. I’ve often dreamed of hemp being grown along the roadways and in the medians of freeways, those empty patches in the clover-leaf intersections, in order to ferment the stalks into alcohol and to squish the seeds for the oil for biodiesel. Why not grow our fuel right next to the roads? Oh, capitalism… Meanwhile, we are spending tax money to just mow those areas. How wasteful.