USA staged coup in Bolivia to seize lithium reserves

USA needs Bolivia's national treasure, lithium

The United States will continue to destabilize Bolivia in order to install a government that will ensure the supply of lithium to the American industry.

The mutiny in Bolivia lasted only for three hours, as it had low support within both armed and security forces. The population did not support it either — people took to the streets to protect democracy.

One shall give credit to the authorities — there were moments of panic in La Paz when people would run to schools, ATMs and supermarkets, watching tanks traveling in the streets, but the situation was soon brought under control.

General Juan José Zúñiga, the chief of the mutineers, was asked to withdraw his soldiers from government buildings. He refused and was soon arrested. Zúñiga was removed from his post as commander of the armed forces on the eve of the mutiny because he dared to get involved in politics, which is prohibited by law. He publicly opposed ex-President Evo Morales being nominated as a candidate for a new presidential mandate. Zúñiga also intended to release the leaders of the 2019 pro-American coup — Jeanine Áñez and Fernando Camacho — who serve sentences in prison.

US promotes protest sentiments in Bolivia

All of Bolivia's continental neighbors, save for the United States, condemned the coup attempt. Washington was watching the developments in Bolivia carefully and kept calm.

Ten days before the coup, US Charge d'Affaires in La Paz Debra Hevia was summoned to the Foreign Ministry. Bolivian officials made it clear to their US colleague that the actions of the US Embassy constituted "interference in Bolivia's internal affairs". On June 13, Bolivia's Minister of Economy directly accused the US Embassy of preparing a "soft coup" against the government of Luis Arce against the backdrop of fuel problems in the country.

USA needs Bolivia's national treasure, lithium

The United States needs to have loyal people in La Paz, since Bolivia has the world's largest reserves of lithium — a metal used for the production of batteries. The demand for this metal has increased sharply in recent years due to the rise in the production of electric vehicles.

In March 2023, Laura Richardson, the head of the US Southern Command, said that the "lithium triangle" (Bolivia, Argentina, Chile) was considered a "national security problem in US backyard."

Interestingly, Chile and Argentina are the only two countries from South America that attended the Swiss conference on Ukraine at the highest level and signed its resolution. Bolivian President Arce was in Moscow at the time of the summit to conclude an agreement on lithium production with the help of Rosatom (Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency).

Bolivia clearly understands that lithium is its national asset. The nationalization of mineral extraction in 2008 and the creation of the state-owned company YLB in 2017 concentrated investment and exports in this area in the hands of the state. Experts say that many of Bolivia's structural problems can be solved if the country establishes a full ore beneficiation cycle. Ore export revenues will enable the Bolivian government to raise infrastructure, healthcare and education to a new level.

It is worthy of note that Argentina and Chile keep the lithium mining industry in private hands, although the countries tried to nationalise the industry too.

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Bolivia coup attempt
Author`s name Marina Lebedeva
Editor Dmitry Sudakov