04:32 GMT18 January 2021
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    The coup in Bolivia that ousted former President Evo Morales may be an attempt by the US to control Bolivia’s lithium resources and split the country in two, Chuck Kaufman, the national co-Coordinator of the Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ) told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear.

    Amid a US-backed coup by right-wing opposition leaders, Morales was forced to resign Sunday and has since been replaced by Bolivia’s Second Vice Speaker of the Senate Jeanine Añez, who assumed the title of interim president on Tuesday. US President Donald Trump has called the development a "significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere.” 

    According to Kaufman, the so-called progressive US corporate media’s attempts to discuss whether or not Morales’ ousting is a coup are “ridiculous.”

    “That is a totally ridiculous debate. It’s a very important debate for the supporters of US policy, because if the coup were to be declared a military coup, that would require the cutoff of aid and unseeding of Bolivia from various international bodies. So, for anybody who claims to be progressive to be siding with the imperialists and questioning whether this is a coup, just shows that they’re not progressive,” Kaufman told hosts John Kirikakou and Brian Becker on Wednesday, adding that right-wing opposition protesters are inflicting violence on Bolivian officials.

    “Well, the violence has already begun,” Kaufman said. “The violence began by the right-wing coup-mongers - there were terrible images like that one mayor [of the town of Vinto] who was dragged out of her office. Her head was shaved. She was doused with red paint and beaten. I mean, those are the same tactics that the opposition in Nicaragua was using in the spring of 2018. It’s the same tactics that the opposition in Venezuela, with less success, has tried to do. People are going to die.”

    “Evo Morales - we can admire him for attempting to cut down on the violence by removing himself from the situation, but that’s not going to stop the right wing, because their objective is to take total power and wipe out indigenous-led government,” Kaufman explained.

    Over the past few years, Bolivia, which is extremely rich in lithium, has tried to use its natural resources to bring wealth back to its own people.

    Morales’ Vice President Álvaro García Linera, who also resigned Sunday, previously referred to lithium as the “fuel that will feed the world,” Common Dreams reported.

    Bolivia has 43% of the proven reserves of lithium in the world, and in June, Evo Morales announced that the country of Bolivia was going to industrialize its lithium production instead of exporting the raw material for foreign corporations to profit from. They were going to process and make batteries themselves, so the timing of this is indicative of the desire for resource control by the US and transnational corporations,” Kaufman explained.

    “One scenario that I fear is that the country will be partitioned - which the ultra-right in Bolivia tried one time before - to separate the lowlands from the highlands, where Evo Morales’ support is and indigenous people are. But it’s in the lowlands that the lithium and the natural gas are located. So their goal may well be to separate the country into two,” he noted.

    He added that when Morales came to power in 2006, “foreign oil companies and natural gas companies paid 20% of the revenue for license, and Morales turned that around so that Bolivia got 80% and the foreign oil companies got 20%. They've never forgiven him for that.”

    Under Morales’ leadership, the country’s GDP increased by 400%, Becker pointed out.

    “It was the poorest country in South America, and now it has the fastest-growing economy up until Sunday,” Kaufman agreed.

    Morales on Wednesday held his first press conference since being forced to flee Bolivia and finding refuge in Mexico, hinting that he might return into the presidential race during the next election, which is expected to take place by January 22. During the press conference, Morales also urged all Bolivians to stop the acts of violence in the country.

    Due to the lack of news coverage on what is happening on the ground in Bolivia, Kaufman’s AFGJ has set up a webpage where people can access current information.

    “What AFGJ is doing about the coup is getting information out as we’re able to … including setting up a rolling news wire on our news page at afgj.org to get information that the corporate media is not providing, and it's coming directly from those on the ground in Bolivia,” Kaufman told Sputnik.


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    Evo Morales, coup, Bolivia, United States
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