Monday, 27 July 2020

Elon Musk Expresses Support for Bolivian Coup

In a recent Twitter exchange, Elon Musk replied that "We will coup whoever we want," in response to a comment on the overthrow of Evo Morales. This expectedly sent Twitter users into overdrive with many speculating the US-backed military coup took place to allow Tesla access to Bolivia's lithium reserves.

Here is Musk's Tweet which could, of course, be dismissed as a joke, but what is not so easily dismissed is Tesla looks set to profit from the coup. Musk has not helped himself by further mocking the left on Twitter.

The Bolivia coup was justified by accusations of voting irregularities, but researchers at MIT commissioned by the Center for Economic and Policy Research have cast doubt on those claims. “The statistical evidence does not support the claim of fraud,” wrote the researchers, John Curiel and Jack R. Williams.

If the researchers are correct, then Evo Morales may well be the legitimate democratically-elected leader of Bolivia. Certainly, he maintains widespread support and could plausibly win again if he was allowed to stand in future elections, which is obviously doubtful.

Many believe the real reason for the coup is that Bolivia may hold nearly half the world's lithium supply, estimated by some at up to 45 million tons. The value of lithium looks set to skyrocket as demand for batteries and computer components rises. Tesla's electric car plants need a steady supply of the precious metal.

US mining companies have attempted to gain access to Bolivia's lithium for years but have been met with refusal. Morales instead struck better deals with Germany and China, in effect, looking out for his people's best interests - something which inevitably met with US disapproval. Unsurprisingly, the coup administration immediately invited multinationals like Tesla to start mining Bolivia's lithium reserves.

Morales called the coup an “act of revenge by the United States, which never accepted the loss of control of the Bolivian lithium market in favour of Chinese and German companies.”

The interim President only received 4% of the popular vote at the last general election and has postponed elections three times since seizing power, leading to calls for mass demonstrations. It would certainly appear Jeanine Áñez has no legitimacy, but as she is friendly with US mining companies, you can expect a double-standard from western leaders. Dictators are considered fine if the west can loot their country's resources.

Evo Morales' Movement Towards Socialism party is expected to win the coming November elections, if they are allowed to go ahead this time, but there are fears the party could be disbanded by the interim government. They have already barred Morales from standing and he is currently in exile in Argentina.

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