[News] ‘We Will Coup Whoever We Want’: Elon Musk and the Overthrow of Democracy in Bolivia

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 29 15:37:58 EDT 2020



by Vijay Prashad - July 29, 2020 

On July 24, 2020, Tesla's Elon Musk wrote [1] on Twitter that a second
U.S. "government stimulus package is not in the best interests of the
people." Someone responded [2] to Musk soon after, "You know what wasn't
in the best interest of people? The U.S. government organizing a coup
against Evo Morales in Bolivia so you could obtain the lithium there."
Musk then wrote [3]: "We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it." 

Musk refers here to the coup against President Evo Morales Ayma, who was
removed illegally from his office in November 2019. Morales had just won
an election for a term that was to have begun in January 2020. Even if
there was a challenge against that election, Morales' term should
rightfully have continued through November and December of 2019.
Instead, the Bolivian military, at the behest of Bolivia's far right and
the United States government, threatened Morales; Morales went into
exile in Mexico and is now in Argentina. 

At that time, the "evidence" of fraud was offered by the far right and
by a "preliminary report [4]" by the Organization of American States;
only after Morales was removed from office was there grudging
acknowledgment by the liberal [5] media that there was in fact no
evidence of fraud. It was too late for Bolivia, which has been condemned
to a dangerous government that has suspended democracy in the country. 

Lithium Coup 

Over his 14 years in office, Morales fought to use the wealth of Bolivia
for the Bolivian people, who saw--after centuries of
oppression--remarkable advances in their basic needs. Literacy rates
rose and hunger rates dropped. The use of Bolivia's wealth to advance
the interests of the people rather than North American multinational
corporations was an abomination to the U.S. embassy in La Paz, which had
egged on the worst elements of the military and the far right to
overthrow the government. This is just what happened in November 2019. 

Musk's admission, however intemperate, is at least honest. His company
Tesla has long wanted access at a low price to the large lithium
[6]deposits in Bolivia; lithium is a key ingredient for batteries.
Earlier this year, Musk and his company revealed that they wanted to
build a Tesla factory in Brazil, which would be supplied by lithium from
Bolivia; when we wrote [7] about that we called our report "Elon Musk Is
Acting Like a Neo-Conquistador for South America's Lithium." Everything
we wrote there is condensed in his new tweet: the arrogance toward the
political life of other countries, and the greed toward resources that
people like Musk think are their entitlement. 

Musk went on to delete his tweet. He then said [2], "we get our lithium
from Australia"; this will not settle the issue, since eyebrows are
being raised in Australia regarding the environmental damage [8] from
lithium mining. 

Suspension of Democracy 

After Morales was removed, an insignificant far-right politician named
Jeanine Áñez set aside the constitutional process and seized power. She
showed the character [9] of her politics when she signed a presidential
decree on November 15, 2019, that gave the military the right to do
whatever it wanted; even her allies found this to be too far and
repealed it on November 28. 

Arrests and intimidation of activists from the Movement for Socialism
(MAS)--the party of Morales--began in November 2019 and still continue.
On July 7, 2020, seven U.S. senators published a statement [10] that
said, "We are increasingly concerned by the growing number of human
rights violations and curtailments of civil liberties by the interim
government of Bolivia." "Without a change in course by the interim
government," the senators wrote, "we fear that basic civil rights in
Bolivia will be further eroded and the legitimacy of the crucial
upcoming elections will be put at risk." 

There's no need to worry about that, since the government of Áñez seems
unwilling to hold an election. By all polls, Áñez looks likely to be
defeated in the general elections. A recent poll by El Centro
Estratégico Latinoamericano de Geopolítica (CELAG) says [11] that Áñez
will get a mere 13.3 percent, far behind the Movement for Socialism's
Luis Arce (41.9 percent) and the center right's Carlos Mesa (26.8
percent). The election was supposed to have taken place in May, but it
was rescheduled for September 6; it has now been postponed [12] once
more, this time to October 18. Bolivia would not have had an elected
government for an entire year. 

Luis Arce of MAS recently told [13] Oliver Vargas, "We face persecution,
we face surveillance… we are facing a very difficult campaign." But, he
said, "we are sure that we will win these elections." If elections are

The CELAG study shows that 9 out of 10 Bolivians have seen their incomes
decline due to the coronavirus recession. Because of this--and of the
attack by this government on the MAS--65.2 percent of Bolivians have a
negative appraisal of Áñez. It is important to note that due to the
positive policies of Morales' MAS, there is widespread support for a
socialist orientation; 64.1 percent of Bolivians support taxes against
the rich, and Bolivians in general support the resource socialism of the
MAS and Morales. 

CoronaShock and Bolivia 

The government of Áñez has been utterly incompetent regarding the
coronavirus. The number of confirmed [14] cases of COVID-19 in this
country of 11 million people is 66,456; since testing [15] is low, the
number is likely much higher. 

Musk returns to our story. Earlier this year, on March 31, Bolivia's
Foreign Minister Karen Longaric wrote an obsequious letter [16] to Musk
asking him about the "offer of cooperation posted by you regarding
ventilators ready to be dispatched to countries where they are needed
the most." Longaric said, "If it is not possible to send it to Bolivia,
we can arrange its receipt in Miami, FL. and transport them from there
as quickly as possible." No such ventilators came. 

Instead, the government bought ventilators from a Spanish supplier for
$27,000 [17] for each of the 170 devices; Bolivian producers had said
they could supply ventilators for $1,000 per unit. The health minister
in the Áñez government--Marcelo Navajas--was arrested [18] for this


Evo Morales read Musk's tweet about the coup in Bolivia and responded
[19]: "Elon Musk, the owner of the largest electric car company, says
about the coup in Bolivia: 'We will coup whoever we want.' Another proof
that the coup was about Bolivian lithium; at the cost of two massacres.
We will always defend our resources!" 

The reference to the massacres is important. In November, from Mexico
City, Morales watched as the government of Áñez let loose the dogs of
war against the people of Bolivia from Cochabamba to El Alto. "They are
killing my brothers and sisters," Morales said [20] at a press
conference. "This is the kind of thing the old military dictatorships
used to do." It is the toxic character of the government of Áñez, backed
fully by the U.S. government and Elon Musk. 

Protests across Bolivia began on July 27 for the restoration of

_This article was produced by __Globetrotter_ [21]_, a project of the
__Independent Media Institute._ 


[1] https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1286673686821515266
[2] https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1286867520314642443
[4] https://tinyurl.com/swn5q2q
[8] https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lithium-batteries-environment-impact
[11] https://www.celag.org/encuesta-bolivia-julio-2020/
[12] https://www.jornada.com.mx/2020/07/24/mundo/025n2mun
[14] https://boliviasegura.gob.bo/
[15] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZaNoHvT3xw
[19] https://twitter.com/evoespueblo/status/1287064230835957762
[21] https://independentmediainstitute.org/globetrotter/
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