Imperialism, Lithium, and Bolivia– “We’ll Coup Whoever We Want”


Elon Musk–sovereignty? What sovereignty when we need resources? Photo: JD Lasika/Wikimedia Commons

At the end of 2019, there was a military coup in Bolivia, replacing the left-wing Evo Morales government with the fascist catholic-extremist Jeanine ​Áñez taking his place as the un-elected interim government. It’s worth revisiting that tragic episode, now that Morales is back home after his exile, albeit not as president.

The mainstream international and even some independent leftists–(ehem David Pakman)–refused to call this what it was, a coup. But you saw the virtual spaces in which the left thrive and exist in, like Twitter, call out the clear coup and its obvious implications for multi-national interests. Bolivia has one of the largest lithium resources in the world. This is due to Bolivia being a cornerstone of what is called the Lithium Triangle, which is the largest single lithium reserve on the planet. The Lithium Triangle contains 75% of the world’s known lithium and overlaps Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.

Lithium is crucial in the battery, a product which has been used widely in our technology, tools, and really any device you’re expecting to hold any power. The battery though, is currently going through its own renaissance, the Battery Renaissance. At the moment Batteries find themselves in the intersection between three of the largest emerging markets in the world; 1) Cellular Devices and portable tablets/laptops; 2) Electric Vehicles; 3) Solar Energy Storage systems. This has caused a huge spike in demand and therefore a huge spike in interest from international capital.

The new age of the international mask-off interests is appealing, at least for Elon Musk who had some thoughts on the Bolivian Coup himself, which he revealed through a since deleted tweet. Read Below:

ELON: ​“Another government stimulus package is not in the best interests of the people, imo”

@historyofarmani: ​“You know what wasn’t in the best interests of the people? The U.S. organizing a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia so you could obtain lithium there.”

ELON:​ “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

Yes, you read that correctly. The tweet was deleted at some point afterwards, probably realizing that endorsing an anti-democratic government for your supposedly “helpful” EV company, wasn’t a good look.

This isn’t anything new. Tesla is a multinational company with a market cap over $300 Billion dollars. They have or are building manufacturing operations in the U.S., China, and Germany; Tesla sells its products to nearly every country in the world with an established charging network and brand recognition in each of them.

And this is what multinational corporations and its CEO’s do. They’re anti-democracy and pro-business. It’s really as simple as that. What makes Elon Musk’s comment so haunting to me personally, is the utter lack of awareness for a man who benefitted, whether directly or indirectly it doesn’t matter, from Aparthied in South Africa and all of its anti-democratic and colonial laws and governments, to now go around casually pushing that colonialist attitude and sentiment, to a following of 39.4 Million Twitter followers (as of 10-21-20).

Elon Musk is a shining example that you can’t teach an old trust fund baby new tricks.

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