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FTR #1104 Fascism, 2019 World Tour, Part 14: Lithium Coup in Bolivia, Part 1 and FTR #1105 Fascism, 2019 World Tour, Part 15: Lithium Coup in Bolivia, Part 2

 

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FTR #1104 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

FTR #1105 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: These pro­grams high­light fea­tures of an appar­ent coup d’e­tat in Bolivia, empha­siz­ing the indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions fig­ur­ing in the coup itself, as well as the under­ly­ing dynam­ic of the devel­op­ment of Bolivi­a’s enor­mous lithi­um reserves. Cen­tral to the dis­cus­sion is the fact that lithi­um is essen­tial for the devel­op­ment of elec­tric car bat­ter­ies and that tech­nol­o­gy is impor­tant to any suc­cess­ful “Green­ing” of the glob­al econ­o­my.

Fas­cists from Latin Amer­i­ca and Europe net­worked with transna­tion­al cor­po­rate ele­ments and some U.S. intel­li­gence cut-outs to oust Evo Morales and his gov­ern­ment.

Although Morales had vio­lat­ed con­sti­tu­tion­al norms on term lim­its in order to extend his gov­er­nance, his polit­i­cal agen­da had great­ly ben­e­fit­ed Bolivi­a’s poor and its his­tor­i­cal­ly oppressed indige­nous pop­u­la­tion, in par­tic­u­lar. The coun­try’s min­er­al wealth has been exploit­ed by for­eign com­pa­nies and select mem­bers of the Boli­vian elite to the detri­ment of much of the pop­u­la­tion. Even the con­ser­v­a­tive Finan­cial Times has not­ed that Morales restruc­tur­ing of the Boli­vian economy–mineral extrac­tion, in particular–has sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved the coun­try’s econ­o­my and reduced pover­ty.

Klaus Bar­bi­e’s Boli­vian Secret Police ID card

This ele­ment of dis­cus­sion involves many sub­jects cov­ered at length over the decades and fea­tured in the archives:

  1. Mate­r­i­al about Klaus Bar­bie and the Euro­pean fas­cists in his “Fiances of Death” (or “Bride­grooms of Death”) mer­ce­nar­ies can be found in, among oth­er pro­grams, AFA #‘s 19 and 27.
  2. The Vat­i­can’s rela­tion­ship to fas­cism, includ­ing Opus Dei and the Ustachi in Croa­t­ia, is high­light­ed in, among oth­er pro­grams AFA #17.
  3. Infor­ma­tion about the re-emer­gence of the Ustachi can be found in, among oth­er pro­grams, FTR #‘s 49, 154, 766, 901.

Key indi­vid­ual and insti­tu­tion­al play­ers in the devel­op­ment of, pre­lude to, and exe­cu­tion of the Boli­vian coup include:

    1. Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho, a wealthy Boli­vian described in the Pana­ma Papers, Cama­cho is: ” . . . . an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ist groomed by a fas­cist para­mil­i­tary noto­ri­ous for its racist vio­lence, with a base in Bolivia’s wealthy sep­a­ratist region of San­ta Cruz. . . .”
    2. He is heir to a tra­di­tion of wealth, the nation’s nat­ur­al gas busi­ness, in par­tic­u­lar: : ” . . . . Cama­cho also hails from a fam­i­ly of cor­po­rate elites who have long prof­it­ed from Bolivia’s plen­ti­ful nat­ur­al gas reserves. And his fam­i­ly lost part of its wealth when Morales nation­al­ized the nation’s resources, in order to fund his vast social pro­grams — which cut pover­ty by 42 per­cent and extreme pover­ty by 60 per­cent. . . .”
    3. Pri­or to the coup, Cama­cho: ” . . . . met with lead­ers from right-wing gov­ern­ments in the region to dis­cuss their plans to desta­bi­lize Morales. Two months before the putsch, he tweet­ed grat­i­tude: ‘Thank you Colom­bia! Thank you Venezuela!’ he exclaimed, tip­ping his hat to Juan Guaido’s coup oper­a­tion. He also rec­og­nized the far-right gov­ern­ment of Jair Bol­sonaro, declar­ing, “Thank you Brazil!’ . . .”
    4. A mar­gin­al fig­ure with lit­tle pub­lic grav­i­tas, includ­ing on social media, Cama­cho was mov­ing to neu­tral­ize the Morales gov­ern­ment before the coup itself.
    5. His polit­i­cal pres­ence and base of sup­port is a Chris­t­ian fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion: ” . . . . Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho was groomed by the Unión Juve­nil Cruceñista, or San­ta Cruz Youth Union (UJC), a fas­cist para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion that has been linked to assas­si­na­tion plots against Morales. The group is noto­ri­ous for assault­ing left­ists, Indige­nous peas­ants, and jour­nal­ists, all while espous­ing a deeply racist, homo­pho­bic ide­ol­o­gy. . . .”
    6. The UJC: ” . . . . The UJC is the Boli­vian equiv­a­lent of Spain’s Falange, India’s Hin­du suprema­cist RSS, and Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion. Its sym­bol is a green cross that bears strong sim­i­lar­i­ties to logos of fas­cist move­ments across the West. And its mem­bers are known to launch into Nazi-style sieg heil salutes. . . . Even the US embassy in Bolivia has described UJC mem­bers as ‘racist’ and ‘mil­i­tant,’ not­ing that they ‘have fre­quent­ly attacked pro-MAS/­gov­ern­ment peo­ple and instal­la­tions.’ . . .”
    7. Cama­cho was allied with a wealthy Croa­t­ian named Branko Marinkovic: ” . . . . Cama­cho was elect­ed as vice pres­i­dent of the UJC in 2002, when he was just 23 years old. He left the orga­ni­za­tion two years lat­er to build his family’s busi­ness empire and rise through the ranks of the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee. It was in that orga­ni­za­tion that he was tak­en under the wing of one of the sep­a­ratist movement’s most pow­er­ful fig­ures, a Boli­vian-Croa­t­ian oli­garch named Branko Marinkovic. . . .
    8. Marinkovic is one of the prime movers of a seces­sion­ist move­ment for the San­ta Cruz area: ” . . . . Camacho’s Croa­t­ian god­fa­ther and sep­a­ratist pow­er bro­ker Branko Marinkovic is a major landown­er who ramped up his sup­port for the right-wing oppo­si­tion after some of his land was nation­al­ized by the Evo Morales gov­ern­ment. As chair­man of the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee, he over­saw the oper­a­tions of the main engine of sep­a­ratism in Bolivia. In a 2008 let­ter to Marinkovic, the Inter­na­tion­al Fed­er­a­tion for Human Rights denounced the com­mit­tee as an ‘actor and pro­mot­er of racism and vio­lence in Bolivia.’ The human rights group added that it ‘condemn[ed] the atti­tude and seces­sion­ist, union­ist and racist dis­cours­es as well as the calls for mil­i­tary dis­obe­di­ence of which the Pro-San­ta Cruz Civic Com­mit­tee for is one of the main pro­mot­ers.’ In 2013, jour­nal­ist Matt Ken­nard report­ed that the US gov­ern­ment was work­ing close­ly with the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee to encour­age the balka­niza­tion of Bolivia and to under­mine Morales. . . .”
    9. There has been spec­u­la­tion that Marinkovich may be descend­ed from Croa­t­ian Ustachis fas­cists: ” . . . . But even some of his sym­pa­thiz­ers are skep­ti­cal. A Balkan ana­lyst from the pri­vate intel­li­gence firm Strat­for, which works close­ly with the US gov­ern­ment and is pop­u­lar­ly known as the ‘shad­ow CIA,’ pro­duced a rough back­ground pro­file on Marinkovic, spec­u­lat­ing, ‘Still don’t know his full sto­ry, but I would bet a lot of $$$ that this dude’s par­ents are 1st gen (his name is too Slav­ic) and that they were Ustashe (read: Nazi) sym­pa­thiz­ers flee­ing Tito’s Com­mu­nists after WWII.’ . . . .”
    10. The coup fol­lows by some years an attempt by a group of inter­na­tion­al fas­cists to mur­der Morales: ” . . . . In April 2009, a spe­cial unit of the Boli­vian secu­ri­ty ser­vices barged into a lux­u­ry hotel room and cut down three men who were said to be involved in a plot to kill Evo Morales. Two oth­ers remained on the loose. Four of the alleged con­spir­a­tors had Hun­gar­i­an or Croa­t­ian roots and ties to right­ist pol­i­tics in east­ern Europe, while anoth­er was a right-wing Irish­man, Michael Dwyer, who had only arrived in San­ta Cruz six months before. The ring­leader of the group was said to be a for­mer left­ist jour­nal­ist named Eduar­do Rosza-Flo­res who had turned to fas­cism and belonged to Opus Dei, the tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholic cult that emerged under the dic­ta­tor­ship of Spain’s Fran­cis­co Fran­co. . . .”
    11. Eduar­do Rosza-Flo­res had fought in the for­mer Yugoslavia on behalf of the neo-Ustachi regime that ulti­mate­ly came to pow­er: ” . . . . Dur­ing the 1990s, Rosza fought on behalf of the Croa­t­ian First Inter­na­tion­al Pla­toon, or the PIV, in the war to sep­a­rate from Yugoslavia. A Croa­t­ian jour­nal­ist told Time that the ‘PIV was a noto­ri­ous group: 95% of them had crim­i­nal his­to­ries, many were part of Nazi and fas­cist groups, from Ger­many to Ire­land.’ By 2009, Rosza returned home to Bolivia to cru­sade on behalf of anoth­er sep­a­ratist move­ment in San­ta Cruz. . . .”
    12. Rosza-Flo­res had no mon­ey, yet his group of would-be fas­cist assas­sins were well fund­ed. Marinkovic appears to have been among the fund­ing sources: ” . . . . Marinkovic was sub­se­quent­ly charged with pro­vid­ing $200,000 to the plot­ters. The Boli­vian-Croa­t­ian oli­garch ini­tial­ly fled to the Unit­ed States, where he was giv­en asy­lum, then relo­cat­ed to Brazil, where he lives today. He denied any involve­ment in the plan to kill Morales. As jour­nal­ist Matt Ken­nard report­ed, there was anoth­er thread that tied the plot to the US: the alleged par­tic­i­pa­tion of an NGO leader named Hugo Achá Mel­gar. . . .”
    13. Hugo Acha Mel­gar was net­worked with the Human Rights Foun­da­tion, a right-wing orga­ni­za­tion with strong links to U.S. intel­li­gence and financed in part by Peter Thiel. The Human Rights Foun­da­tion is involved in the Hong Kong tur­moil. ” . . . . Achá was not just the head of any run-of-the-mill NGO. He had found­ed the Boli­vian sub­sidiary of the Human Rights Foun­da­tion (HRF), an inter­na­tion­al right-wing out­fit that is known for host­ing a “school for rev­o­lu­tion” for activists seek­ing regime change in states tar­get­ed by the US gov­ern­ment. HRF is run by Thor Halvorssen Jr., the son of the late Venezue­lan oli­garch and CIA asset Thor Halvorssen Hel­lum.  . . . . He launched the HRF with grants from right-wing bil­lion­aires like Peter Thiel, con­ser­v­a­tive foun­da­tions, and NGOs includ­ing Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al. The group has since been at the fore­front of train­ing activists for insur­rec­tionary activ­i­ty from Hong Kong to the Mid­dle East to Latin Amer­i­ca. . . .”
    14. Proxy pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Car­los Mesa is heav­i­ly net­worked with the Inter-Amer­i­can Dia­logue, financed in con­sid­er­able mea­sure by the AID: ” . . . . Today, Mesa serves as an in-house “expert” at the Inter-Amer­i­can Dia­logue, a neolib­er­al Wash­ing­ton-based think tank focused on Latin Amer­i­ca. One of the Dialogue’s top donors is the US Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment (USAID) . . . .”

Cen­tral to the mul­ti-nation­al dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Evo Morales is his nation­al­iza­tion of some of Bolivi­a’s min­er­al resource indus­try. And cen­tral to the Boli­vian min­er­al resource inven­to­ry is lithi­um, essen­tial for the man­u­fac­ture of elec­tric car bat­ter­ies: ” . . . . The main tar­get is its mas­sive deposits of lithi­um, cru­cial for the elec­tric car. . . .”

Salar de Uyu­ni lithium/salt flats.

Bolivia has been report­ed to hold up to 70 per­cent of the world’s lithi­um, and the Morales gov­ern­men­t’s piv­ot toward devel­op­ing those reserves in tan­dem with Chi­nese firms, rather than West­ern transna­tion­als, may well have been the cen­tral dynam­ic in his ouster. ” . . . . Over the course of the past few years, Bolivia has strug­gled to raise invest­ment to devel­op the lithi­um reserves in a way that brings the wealth back into the coun­try for its peo­ple. Morales’ Vice Pres­i­dent Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era had said that lithi­um is the ‘fuel that will feed the world.’ Bolivia was unable to make deals with West­ern transna­tion­al firms; it decid­ed to part­ner with Chi­nese firms. This made the Morales gov­ern­ment vul­ner­a­ble. It had walked into the new Cold War between the West and Chi­na. The coup against Morales can­not be under­stood with­out a glance at this clash. . . .”

The com­plex­i­ties of the Salar de Uyu­ni salt flats–location of much of Bolivi­a’s lithi­um reserves–mandate the tech­no­log­i­cal involve­ment of for­eign firms. A deal reached with Ger­man ACI Sys­tems (heav­i­ly sub­si­dized by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment) was negat­ed by protests on the part of local res­i­dents in the Salar de Uyu­ni area. Chi­nese firms were poised to fill that vac­u­um, offer­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a more equi­table devel­op­ment of the min­er­al. ” . . . . Last year, Germany’s ACI Sys­tems agreed to a deal with Bolivia. After protests from res­i­dents in the Salar de Uyu­ni region, Morales can­celed that deal on Novem­ber 4, 2019. Chi­nese firms—such as TBEA Group and Chi­na Machin­ery Engineering—made a deal with YLB. It was being said that China’s Tian­qi Lithi­um Group, which oper­ates in Argenti­na, was going to make a deal with YLB. Both Chi­nese invest­ment and the Boli­vian lithi­um com­pa­ny were exper­i­ment­ing with new ways to both mine the lithi­um and to share the prof­its of the lithi­um. The idea that there might be a new social com­pact for the lithi­um was unac­cept­able to the main transna­tion­al min­ing com­pa­nies. . . .”

After the ouster of Morales, the val­ue of Tes­la’s stock increased dra­mat­i­cal­ly.

The ACI/Bolivia deal had heavy back­ing by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment and fea­tured the planned export of lithi­um to Ger­many and else­where in Europe. ” . . . . With the joint ven­ture, Boli­vian state com­pa­ny YLB is team­ing up with Germany’s pri­vate­ly-owned ACI Sys­tems to devel­op its mas­sive Uyu­ni salt flat and build a lithi­um hydrox­ide plant as well as a fac­to­ry for elec­tric vehi­cle bat­ter­ies in Bolivia. ACI Sys­tems is also in talks to sup­ply com­pa­nies based in Ger­many and else­where in Europe with lithi­um from Bolivia. . . . Wolf­gang Schmutz, CEO of ACI Group, the par­ent com­pa­ny of ACI Sys­tems, said more than 80 per­cent of the lithi­um would be export­ed to Ger­many. . . .”

Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance for the dis­cus­sion to fol­low is ” . . . . Chi­na’s dom­i­nance in the glob­al lithi­um sup­ply chain and its strong ties with La Paz. . . .”

Short­ly after the ouster of Morales, Tes­la announced that Tes­la would locate a new car and elec­tric bat­tery fac­to­ry near Berlin. If the ACI lithi­um devel­op­ment project in Bolivia is resus­ci­tat­ed, the Tes­la move will give the firm access to the Boli­vian lithi­um.

Might that have been the rea­son for the rise in Tes­la’s stock? Might there have been some insid­er trad­ing?

The pro­grams con­clude with review of the rebirth of Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca as a syn­the­sis with British “psy-op” devel­op­ment firm SCL. A key direc­tor of Emerdata–the new firm–is a Hong Kong financier and busi­ness part­ner of Black­wa­ter chief Erik Prince, the broth­er of Trump Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion Bet­sy de Vos. Not­ing the firm for­mer­ly known as Black­wa­ter’s deep involve­ment in the world of covert oper­a­tions and for­mer Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca lynch­pin Steve Ban­non’s piv­otal role in the anti-Chi­na move­ment, it is not unrea­son­able to ask if Emer­da­ta may be involved in the Hong Kong tur­moil.

We also review Chi­na’s lead­er­ship in the devel­op­ment of Green tech­nolo­gies.

1. A coup d’e­tat has tak­en place in Bolivia, with fas­cists from Latin Amer­i­ca and Europe net­work­ing with transna­tion­al cor­po­rate ele­ments to oust Evo Morales and his gov­ern­ment.

Although Morales had vio­lat­ed con­sti­tu­tion­al norms on term lim­its in order to extend his gov­er­nance, his polit­i­cal agen­da had great­ly ben­e­fit­ed Bolivi­a’s poor and its his­tor­i­cal­ly oppressed indige­nous pop­u­la­tion, in par­tic­u­lar. The coun­try’s min­er­al wealth has been exploit­ed by for­eign com­pa­nies and select mem­bers of the Boli­vian elite to the detri­ment of much of the pop­u­la­tion. Even the con­ser­v­a­tive Finan­cial Times has not­ed that Morales restruc­tur­ing of the Boli­vian economy–mineral extrac­tion, in particular–has sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved the coun­try’s econ­o­my and reduced pover­ty.

This ele­ment of dis­cus­sion involves many sub­jects cov­ered at length over the decades and fea­tured in the archives:

  1. Mate­r­i­al about Klaus Bar­bie and the Euro­pean fas­cists in his “Fiances of Death” (or “Bride­grooms of Death”) mer­ce­nar­ies can be found in, among oth­er pro­grams, AFA #‘s 19 and 27.
  2. The Vat­i­can’s rela­tion­ship to fas­cism, includ­ing Opus Dei and the Ustachi in Croa­t­ia, is high­light­ed in, among oth­er pro­grams AFA #17.
  3. Infor­ma­tion about the re-emer­gence of the Ustachi can be found in, among oth­er pro­grams, FTR #‘s 49, 154, 766, 901.

Key indi­vid­ual and insti­tu­tion­al play­ers in the devel­op­ment of, pre­lude to, and exe­cu­tion of the Boli­vian coup include:

  1. Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho, a wealthy Boli­vian described in the Pana­ma Papers, Cama­cho is: ” . . . . an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ist groomed by a fas­cist para­mil­i­tary noto­ri­ous for its racist vio­lence, with a base in Bolivia’s wealthy sep­a­ratist region of San­ta Cruz. . . .”
  2. He is heir to a tra­di­tion of wealth, the nation’s nat­ur­al gas busi­ness, in par­tic­u­lar: : ” . . . . Cama­cho also hails from a fam­i­ly of cor­po­rate elites who have long prof­it­ed from Bolivia’s plen­ti­ful nat­ur­al gas reserves. And his fam­i­ly lost part of its wealth when Morales nation­al­ized the nation’s resources, in order to fund his vast social pro­grams — which cut pover­ty by 42 per­cent and extreme pover­ty by 60 per­cent. . . .”
  3. Pri­or to the coup, Cama­cho: ” . . . . met with lead­ers from right-wing gov­ern­ments in the region to dis­cuss their plans to desta­bi­lize Morales. Two months before the putsch, he tweet­ed grat­i­tude: ‘Thank you Colom­bia! Thank you Venezuela!’ he exclaimed, tip­ping his hat to Juan Guaido’s coup oper­a­tion. He also rec­og­nized the far-right gov­ern­ment of Jair Bol­sonaro, declar­ing, “Thank you Brazil!’ . . .”
  4. A mar­gin­al fig­ure with lit­tle pub­lic grav­i­tas, includ­ing on social media, Cama­cho was mov­ing to neu­tral­ize the Morales gov­ern­ment before the coup itself.
  5. His polit­i­cal pres­ence and base of sup­port is a Chris­t­ian fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion: ” . . . . Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho was groomed by the Unión Juve­nil Cruceñista, or San­ta Cruz Youth Union (UJC), a fas­cist para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion that has been linked to assas­si­na­tion plots against Morales. The group is noto­ri­ous for assault­ing left­ists, Indige­nous peas­ants, and jour­nal­ists, all while espous­ing a deeply racist, homo­pho­bic ide­ol­o­gy. . . .”
  6. The UJC: ” . . . . The UJC is the Boli­vian equiv­a­lent of Spain’s Falange, India’s Hin­du suprema­cist RSS, and Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion. Its sym­bol is a green cross that bears strong sim­i­lar­i­ties to logos of fas­cist move­ments across the West. And its mem­bers are known to launch into Nazi-style sieg heil salutes. . . . Even the US embassy in Bolivia has described UJC mem­bers as ‘racist’ and ‘mil­i­tant,’ not­ing that they ‘have fre­quent­ly attacked pro-MAS/­gov­ern­ment peo­ple and instal­la­tions.’ . . .”
  7. Cama­cho was allied with a wealthy Croa­t­ian named Branko Marinkovic: ” . . . . Cama­cho was elect­ed as vice pres­i­dent of the UJC in 2002, when he was just 23 years old. He left the orga­ni­za­tion two years lat­er to build his family’s busi­ness empire and rise through the ranks of the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee. It was in that orga­ni­za­tion that he was tak­en under the wing of one of the sep­a­ratist movement’s most pow­er­ful fig­ures, a Boli­vian-Croa­t­ian oli­garch named Branko Marinkovic. . . .
  8. Marinkovic is one of the prime movers of a seces­sion­ist move­ment for the San­ta Cruz area: ” . . . . Camacho’s Croa­t­ian god­fa­ther and sep­a­ratist pow­er bro­ker Branko Marinkovic is a major landown­er who ramped up his sup­port for the right-wing oppo­si­tion after some of his land was nation­al­ized by the Evo Morales gov­ern­ment. As chair­man of the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee, he over­saw the oper­a­tions of the main engine of sep­a­ratism in Bolivia. In a 2008 let­ter to Marinkovic, the Inter­na­tion­al Fed­er­a­tion for Human Rights denounced the com­mit­tee as an ‘actor and pro­mot­er of racism and vio­lence in Bolivia.’ The human rights group added that it ‘condemn[ed] the atti­tude and seces­sion­ist, union­ist and racist dis­cours­es as well as the calls for mil­i­tary dis­obe­di­ence of which the Pro-San­ta Cruz Civic Com­mit­tee for is one of the main pro­mot­ers.’ In 2013, jour­nal­ist Matt Ken­nard report­ed that the US gov­ern­ment was work­ing close­ly with the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee to encour­age the balka­niza­tion of Bolivia and to under­mine Morales. . . .”
  9. There has been spec­u­la­tion that Marinkovich may be descend­ed from Croa­t­ian Ustachis fas­cists: ” . . . . But even some of his sym­pa­thiz­ers are skep­ti­cal. A Balkan ana­lyst from the pri­vate intel­li­gence firm Strat­for, which works close­ly with the US gov­ern­ment and is pop­u­lar­ly known as the ‘shad­ow CIA,’ pro­duced a rough back­ground pro­file on Marinkovic, spec­u­lat­ing, ‘Still don’t know his full sto­ry, but I would bet a lot of $$$ that this dude’s par­ents are 1st gen (his name is too Slav­ic) and that they were Ustashe (read: Nazi) sym­pa­thiz­ers flee­ing Tito’s Com­mu­nists after WWII.’ . . . .”
  10. Marinkovich’s activism in the San­ta Cruz area is part of a fas­cist polit­i­cal land­scape in that area that dove­tails with Klaus Bar­bie (of whom we spoke in–among oth­er pro­grams–AFA #19): ” . . . . In a 2008 pro­file on Marinkovic, the New York Times acknowl­edged the extrem­ist under­cur­rents of the San­ta Cruz sep­a­ratist move­ment the oli­garch presided over. It described the area as “a bas­tion of open­ly xeno­pho­bic groups like the Boli­vian Social­ist Falange, whose hand-in-air salute draws inspi­ra­tion from the fas­cist Falange of the for­mer Span­ish dic­ta­tor Fran­co.” The Boli­vian Social­ist Falange was a fas­cist group that pro­vid­ed safe haven to Nazi war crim­i­nal Klaus Bar­bie dur­ing the Cold War. A for­mer Gestapo tor­ture expert, Bar­bie was repur­posed by the CIA through its Oper­a­tion Con­dor pro­gram to help exter­mi­nate com­mu­nism across the con­ti­nent. . . .”
  11. The coup fol­lows by some years an attempt by a group of inter­na­tion­al fas­cists to mur­der Morales: ” . . . . In April 2009, a spe­cial unit of the Boli­vian secu­ri­ty ser­vices barged into a lux­u­ry hotel room and cut down three men who were said to be involved in a plot to kill Evo Morales. Two oth­ers remained on the loose. Four of the alleged con­spir­a­tors had Hun­gar­i­an or Croa­t­ian roots and ties to right­ist pol­i­tics in east­ern Europe, while anoth­er was a right-wing Irish­man, Michael Dwyer, who had only arrived in San­ta Cruz six months before. The ring­leader of the group was said to be a for­mer left­ist jour­nal­ist named Eduar­do Rosza-Flo­res who had turned to fas­cism and belonged to Opus Dei, the tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholic cult that emerged under the dic­ta­tor­ship of Spain’s Fran­cis­co Fran­co. . . .”
  12. Eduar­do Rosza-Flo­res had fought in the for­mer Yugoslavia on behalf of the neo-Ustachi regime that ulti­mate­ly came to pow­er: ” . . . . Dur­ing the 1990s, Rosza fought on behalf of the Croa­t­ian First Inter­na­tion­al Pla­toon, or the PIV, in the war to sep­a­rate from Yugoslavia. A Croa­t­ian jour­nal­ist told Time that the ‘PIV was a noto­ri­ous group: 95% of them had crim­i­nal his­to­ries, many were part of Nazi and fas­cist groups, from Ger­many to Ire­land.’ By 2009, Rosza returned home to Bolivia to cru­sade on behalf of anoth­er sep­a­ratist move­ment in San­ta Cruz. . . .”
  13. Rosza-Flo­res had no mon­ey, yet his group of would-be fas­cist assas­sins were well fund­ed. Marinkovic appears to have been among the fund­ing sources: ” . . . . Marinkovic was sub­se­quent­ly charged with pro­vid­ing $200,000 to the plot­ters. The Boli­vian-Croa­t­ian oli­garch ini­tial­ly fled to the Unit­ed States, where he was giv­en asy­lum, then relo­cat­ed to Brazil, where he lives today. He denied any involve­ment in the plan to kill Morales. As jour­nal­ist Matt Ken­nard report­ed, there was anoth­er thread that tied the plot to the US: the alleged par­tic­i­pa­tion of an NGO leader named Hugo Achá Mel­gar. . . .”
  14. Hugo Acha Mel­gar was net­worked with the Human Rights Foun­da­tion, a right-wing orga­ni­za­tion with strong links to U.S. intel­li­gence and financed in part by Peter Thiel. The Human Rights Foun­da­tion is involved in the Hong Kong tur­moil. ” . . . . Achá was not just the head of any run-of-the-mill NGO. He had found­ed the Boli­vian sub­sidiary of the Human Rights Foun­da­tion (HRF), an inter­na­tion­al right-wing out­fit that is known for host­ing a “school for rev­o­lu­tion” for activists seek­ing regime change in states tar­get­ed by the US gov­ern­ment. HRF is run by Thor Halvorssen Jr., the son of the late Venezue­lan oli­garch and CIA asset Thor Halvorssen Hel­lum.  . . . . He launched the HRF with grants from right-wing bil­lion­aires like Peter Thiel, con­ser­v­a­tive foun­da­tions, and NGOs includ­ing Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al. The group has since been at the fore­front of train­ing activists for insur­rec­tionary activ­i­ty from Hong Kong to the Mid­dle East to Latin Amer­i­ca. . . .”
  15. Proxy pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Car­los Mesa is heav­i­ly net­worked with the Inter-Amer­i­can Dia­logue, financed in con­sid­er­able mea­sure by the AID: ” . . . . Today, Mesa serves as an in-house “expert” at the Inter-Amer­i­can Dia­logue, a neolib­er­al Wash­ing­ton-based think tank focused on Latin Amer­i­ca. One of the Dialogue’s top donors is the US Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment (USAID) . . . .”

“Bolivia coup led by Chris­t­ian fas­cist para­mil­i­tary leader and mul­ti-mil­lion­aire – with for­eign sup­port” by Max Blu­men­thal and Ben Nor­ton; The Gray Zone; 11/11/2019

When Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho stormed into Bolivia’s aban­doned pres­i­den­tial palace in the hours after Pres­i­dent Evo Morales’s sud­den Novem­ber 10 res­ig­na­tion, he revealed to the world a side of the coun­try that stood at stark odds with the pluri­na­tion­al spir­it its deposed social­ist and Indige­nous leader had put for­ward. With a Bible in one hand and a nation­al flag in the oth­er, Cama­cho bowed his head in prayer above the pres­i­den­tial seal, ful­fill­ing his vow to purge his country’s Native her­itage from gov­ern­ment and “return God to the burned palace.” “Pachama­ma will nev­er return to the palace,” he said, refer­ring to the Andean Moth­er Earth spir­it. “Bolivia belongs to Christ.” Bolivia’s extreme right-wing oppo­si­tion had over­thrown left­ist Pres­i­dent Evo Morales that day, fol­low­ing demands by the country’s mil­i­tary lead­er­ship that he step down. Vir­tu­al­ly unknown out­side his coun­try, where he had nev­er won a demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tion, Cama­cho stepped into the void.
 He is a rich and pow­er­ful mul­ti-mil­lion­aire named in the Pana­ma Papers, and an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ist groomed by a fas­cist para­mil­i­tary noto­ri­ous for its racist vio­lence, with a base in Bolivia’s wealthy sep­a­ratist region of San­ta Cruz. Cama­cho also hails from a fam­i­ly of cor­po­rate elites who have long prof­it­ed from Bolivia’s plen­ti­ful nat­ur­al gas reserves. And his fam­i­ly lost part of its wealth when Morales nation­al­ized the nation’s resources, in order to fund his vast social pro­grams — which cut pover­ty by 42 per­cent and extreme pover­ty by 60 per­cent.
In the lead-up to the coup, Cama­cho met with lead­ers from right-wing gov­ern­ments in the region to dis­cuss their plans to desta­bi­lize Morales. Two months before the putsch, he tweet­ed grat­i­tude: “Thank you Colom­bia! Thank you Venezuela!” he exclaimed, tip­ping his hat to Juan Guaido’s coup oper­a­tion. He also rec­og­nized the far-right gov­ern­ment of Jair Bol­sonaro, declar­ing, “Thank you Brazil!” Cama­cho had spent years lead­ing an overt­ly fas­cist sep­a­ratist orga­ni­za­tion. The Gray­zone edit­ed the fol­low­ing clips from a pro­mo­tion­al his­tor­i­cal doc­u­men­tary that the group post­ed on its own social media accounts:
The rich oli­garch leader of Bolivia’s right-wing coup, Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho, was the leader of an explic­it­ly fas­cist para­mil­i­tary group. Here are some clips from a pro­mo­tion­al his­tor­i­cal doc­u­men­tary it pub­lished:https://t.co/gFMyfjsi2p pic.twitter.com/XXNQfhD7ii — The Gray­zone (@GrayzoneProject) Novem­ber 12, 2019
While Cama­cho and his far-right forces served as the mus­cle behind the coup, their polit­i­cal allies wait­ed to reap the ben­e­fits. The pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Bolivia’s oppo­si­tion had field­ed in the Octo­ber elec­tion, Car­los Mesa, is a “pro-busi­ness” pri­va­tiz­er with exten­sive ties to Wash­ing­ton. US gov­ern­ment cables pub­lished by Wik­iLeaks reveal that he reg­u­lar­ly cor­re­spond­ed with Amer­i­can offi­cials in their efforts to desta­bi­lize Morales. Mesa is cur­rent­ly list­ed as an expert at a DC-based think tank fund­ed by the US government’s soft-pow­er arm USAID, var­i­ous oil giants, and a host of mul­ti-nation­al cor­po­ra­tions active in Latin Amer­i­ca.
Evo Morales, a for­mer farmer who rose to promi­nence in social move­ments before becom­ing the leader of the pow­er­ful grass­roots polit­i­cal par­ty Move­ment Toward Social­ism (MAS), was Bolivia’s first Indige­nous leader. Wild­ly pop­u­lar in the country’s sub­stan­tial Native and peas­ant com­mu­ni­ties, he won numer­ous elec­tions and demo­c­ra­t­ic ref­er­en­da over a 13-year peri­od, often in land­slides. On Octo­ber 20, Morales won re-elec­tion by more than 600,000 votes, giv­ing him just above the 10 per­cent mar­gin need­ed to defeat oppo­si­tion pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mesa in the first round. Experts who did a sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis of Bolivia’s pub­licly avail­able vot­ing data found no evi­dence of irreg­u­lar­i­ties or fraud. But the oppo­si­tion claimed oth­er­wise, and took to the streets in weeks of protests and riots. The events that pre­cip­i­tat­ed the res­ig­na­tion of Morales were indis­putably vio­lent. Right-wing oppo­si­tion gangs attacked numer­ous elect­ed politi­cians from the rul­ing left­ist MAS par­ty. They then ran­sacked the home of Pres­i­dent Morales, while burn­ing down the hous­es of sev­er­al oth­er top offi­cials. The fam­i­ly mem­bers of some politi­cians were kid­napped and held hostage until they resigned. A female social­ist may­or was pub­licly tor­tured by a mob.
The squalid US-backed fanat­ics of the Boli­vian right ran­sack the house of the country’s elect­ed pres­i­dent, Evo Morales. And the hav­oc is just begin­ning. Let no one call them “pro-democ­ra­cy.” pic.twitter.com/rwwvOSAEaA — Max Blu­men­thal (@MaxBlumenthal) Novem­ber 11, 2019
Fol­low­ing the forced depar­ture of Morales, coup lead­ers arrest­ed the pres­i­dent and vice pres­i­dent of the government’s elec­toral body, and forced the organization’s oth­er offi­cials to resign. Camacho’s fol­low­ers pro­ceed­ed to burn Wipha­la flags that sym­bol­ized the country’s Indige­nous pop­u­la­tion and the pluri­na­tion­al vision of Morales. The Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States, a pro-US orga­ni­za­tion found­ed by Wash­ing­ton dur­ing the Cold War as an alliance of right-wing anti-com­mu­nist coun­tries in Latin Amer­i­ca, helped rub­ber stamp the Boli­vian coup. It called for new elec­tions, claim­ing there were numer­ous irreg­u­lar­i­ties in the Octo­ber 20 vote, with­out cit­ing any evi­dence. Then the OAS remained silent as Morales was over­thrown by his mil­i­tary and his party’s offi­cials were attacked and vio­lent­ly forced to resign.
The day after, the Don­ald Trump White House enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly praised the coup, trum­pet­ing it as a “sig­nif­i­cant moment for democ­ra­cy,” and a “strong sig­nal to the ille­git­i­mate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua.”
Emerg­ing from the shad­ows to lead a vio­lent far-right putsch
While Car­los Mesa timid­ly con­demned the opposition’s vio­lence, Cama­cho egged it on, ignor­ing calls for an inter­na­tion­al audit of the elec­tion and empha­siz­ing his max­i­mal­ist demand to purge all sup­port­ers of Morales from gov­ern­ment. He was the true face of the oppo­si­tion, con­cealed for months behind the mod­er­ate fig­ure of Mesa. A 40-year-old mul­ti-mil­lion­aire busi­ness­man from the sep­a­ratist strong­hold of San­ta Cruz, Cama­cho has nev­er run for office.
Like Venezue­lan coup leader Juan Guaidó, whom more than 80 per­cent of Venezue­lans had nev­er heard of until the US gov­ern­ment anoint­ed him as sup­posed “pres­i­dent,” Cama­cho was an obscure fig­ure until the coup attempt in Bolivia hit its stride. He first cre­at­ed his Twit­ter account on May 27, 2019. For months, his tweets went ignored, gen­er­at­ing no more than three or four retweets and likes. Before the elec­tion, Cama­cho did not have a Wikipedia arti­cle, and there were few media pro­files on him in Span­ish- or Eng­lish-lan­guage media. Cama­cho issued a call for a strike on July 9, post­ing videos on Twit­ter that got just over 20 views. The goal of the strike was to try to force the res­ig­na­tion of Boli­vian government’s elec­toral organ the Supreme Elec­toral Tri­bunal (TSE). In oth­er words, Cama­cho was pres­sur­ing the government’s elec­toral author­i­ties to step down more than three months before the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. It was not until after the elec­tion that Cama­cho was thrust into the lime­light and trans­formed into a celebri­ty by cor­po­rate media con­glom­er­ates like the local right-wing net­work Uni­tel, Tele­mu­n­do, and CNN en Español.
All of a sud­den, Camacho’s tweets call­ing for Morales to resign were light­ing up with thou­sands of retweets. The coup machin­ery had been acti­vat­ed. Main­stream out­lets like the New York Times and Reuters fol­lowed by anoint­ing the unelect­ed Cama­cho as the “leader” of Bolivia’s oppo­si­tion. But even as he lapped up inter­na­tion­al atten­tion, key por­tions of the far-right activist’s back­ground were omit­ted. Left unmen­tioned were Camacho’s deep and well-estab­lished con­nec­tions to Chris­t­ian extrem­ist para­mil­i­taries noto­ri­ous for racist vio­lence and local busi­ness car­tels, as well as the right-wing gov­ern­ments across the region.
It was in the fas­cist para­mil­i­taries and sep­a­ratist atmos­phere of San­ta Cruz where Camacho’s pol­i­tics were formed, and where the ide­o­log­i­cal con­tours of the coup had been defined.
Cadre of a Fran­coist-style fas­cist para­mil­i­tary
Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho was groomed by the Unión Juve­nil Cruceñista, or San­ta Cruz Youth Union (UJC), a fas­cist para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion that has been linked to assas­si­na­tion plots against Morales. The group is noto­ri­ous for assault­ing left­ists, Indige­nous peas­ants, and jour­nal­ists, all while espous­ing a deeply racist, homo­pho­bic ide­ol­o­gy. Since Morales entered office in 2006, the UJC has cam­paigned to sep­a­rate from a coun­try its mem­bers believed had been over­tak­en by a Satan­ic Indige­nous mass.
The UJC is the Boli­vian equiv­a­lent of Spain’s Falange, India’s Hin­du suprema­cist RSS, and Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion. Its sym­bol is a green cross that bears strong sim­i­lar­i­ties to logos of fas­cist move­ments across the West. And its mem­bers are known to launch into Nazi-style sieg heil salutes.
Here is anoth­er video post­ed by Bolivia’s fas­cist oppo­si­tion San­ta Cruz Youth Union. Coup leader Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho @LuisFerCamachoV pre­vi­ous­ly helped lead this sieg-heil­ing group. These are the peo­ple who over­threw elect­ed Pres­i­dent Evo Morales. https://t.co/gFMyfjsi2p pic.twitter.com/GvvMfL21UZ — The Gray­zone (@GrayzoneProject) Novem­ber 12, 2019
Even the US embassy in Bolivia has described UJC mem­bers as “racist” and “mil­i­tant,” not­ing that they “have fre­quent­ly attacked pro-MAS/­gov­ern­ment peo­ple and instal­la­tions.” [see pic of US embassy doc­u­ment] After jour­nal­ist Ben­jamin Dan­gl vis­it­ed with UJC mem­bers in 2007, he described them as the “brass knuck­les” of the San­ta Cruz sep­a­ratist move­ment. “The Unión Juve­nil has been known to beat and whip campesinos march­ing for gas nation­al­iza­tion, throw rocks at stu­dents orga­niz­ing against auton­o­my, toss molo­tov cock­tails at the state tele­vi­sion sta­tion, and bru­tal­ly assault mem­bers of the land­less move­ment strug­gling against land monop­o­lies,” Dan­gl wrote. “When we have to defend our cul­ture by force, we will,” a UJC leader told Dan­gl. “The defense of lib­er­ty is more impor­tant than life.”
Cama­cho was elect­ed as vice pres­i­dent of the UJC in 2002, when he was just 23 years old. He left the orga­ni­za­tion two years lat­er to build his family’s busi­ness empire and rise through the ranks of the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee. It was in that orga­ni­za­tion that he was tak­en under the wing of one of the sep­a­ratist movement’s most pow­er­ful fig­ures, a Boli­vian-Croa­t­ian oli­garch named Branko Marinkovic. In August, Cama­cho tweet­ed a pho­to with his “great friend,” Marinkovic. This friend­ship was cru­cial to estab­lish­ing the right­ist activist’s cre­den­tials and forg­ing the basis of the coup that would take form three months lat­er.
Hoy cumple años un gran líder cruceño y expres­i­dente del Comité pro San­ta Cruz pero todo un gran ami­go, Branko Marinkovic, quien entregó todo, su lib­er­tad y su vida, por su pueblo. pic.twitter.com/uVzNrgH2pI — Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho (@LuisFerCamachoV) August 21, 2019
Camacho’s Croa­t­ian god­fa­ther and sep­a­ratist pow­er bro­ker Branko Marinkovic is a major landown­er who ramped up his sup­port for the right-wing oppo­si­tion after some of his land was nation­al­ized by the Evo Morales gov­ern­ment. As chair­man of the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee, he over­saw the oper­a­tions of the main engine of sep­a­ratism in Bolivia. In a 2008 let­ter to Marinkovic, the Inter­na­tion­al Fed­er­a­tion for Human Rights denounced the com­mit­tee as an “actor and pro­mot­er of racism and vio­lence in Bolivia.” The human rights group added that it “condemn[ed] the atti­tude and seces­sion­ist, union­ist and racist dis­cours­es as well as the calls for mil­i­tary dis­obe­di­ence of which the Pro-San­ta Cruz Civic Com­mit­tee for is one of the main pro­mot­ers.”
In 2013, jour­nal­ist Matt Ken­nard report­ed that the US gov­ern­ment was work­ing close­ly with the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee to encour­age the balka­niza­tion of Bolivia and to under­mine Morales. “What they [the US] put across was how they could strength­en chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” the vice pres­i­dent of the com­mit­tee told Ken­nard. “The embassy said that they would help us in our com­mu­ni­ca­tion work and they have a series of pub­li­ca­tions where they were putting for­ward their ideas.”
In a 2008 pro­file on Marinkovic, the New York Times acknowl­edged the extrem­ist under­cur­rents of the San­ta Cruz sep­a­ratist move­ment the oli­garch presided over. It described the area as “a bas­tion of open­ly xeno­pho­bic groups like the Boli­vian Social­ist Falange, whose hand-in-air salute draws inspi­ra­tion from the fas­cist Falange of the for­mer Span­ish dic­ta­tor Fran­co.” The Boli­vian Social­ist Falange was a fas­cist group that pro­vid­ed safe haven to Nazi war crim­i­nal Klaus Bar­bie dur­ing the Cold War. A for­mer Gestapo tor­ture expert, Bar­bie was repur­posed by the CIA through its Oper­a­tion Con­dor pro­gram to help exter­mi­nate com­mu­nism across the con­ti­nent. . . .  The Boli­vian Falange came into pow­er in 1971 when its leader, Gen. Hugo Banz­er Suarez, oust­ed the left­ist gov­ern­ment of Gen. Juan Jose Tor­res Gon­za­les. The gov­ern­ment of Gon­za­les had infu­ri­at­ed busi­ness lead­ers by nation­al­iz­ing indus­tries and antag­o­nized Wash­ing­ton by oust­ing the Peace Corps, which it viewed as an instru­ment of CIA pen­e­tra­tion. The Nixon admin­is­tra­tion imme­di­ate­ly wel­comed Banz­er with open arms and court­ed him as a key bul­wark against the spread of social­ism in the region. (An espe­cial­ly iron­ic 1973 dis­patch appears on Wik­ileaks show­ing Sec­re­tary of State Hen­ry Kissinger thank­ing Banz­er for con­grat­u­lat­ing him on his Nobel Peace Prize).
The movement’s putschist lega­cy per­se­vered dur­ing the Morales era through orga­ni­za­tions like the UJC and fig­ures such as Marinkovic and Cama­cho. The Times not­ed that Marinkovic also sup­port­ed the activ­i­ties of the UJC, describ­ing the fas­cist group as “a qua­si-inde­pen­dent arm of the com­mit­tee led by Mr. Marinkovic.” A mem­ber of the UJC board told the US news­pa­per of record in an inter­view, “We will pro­tect Branko with our own lives.” Marinkovic has espoused the kind of Chris­t­ian nation­al­ist rhetoric famil­iar to the far-right orga­ni­za­tions of San­ta Cruz, call­ing, for instance, for a “cru­sade for the truth” and insist­ing that God is on his side. The oligarch’s fam­i­ly hails from Croa­t­ia, where he has dual cit­i­zen­ship. Marinkovic has long been dogged by rumors that his fam­i­ly mem­bers were involved in the country’s pow­er­ful fas­cist Ustashe move­ment. The Ustashe col­lab­o­rat­ed open­ly with Nazi Ger­man occu­piers dur­ing World War Two. Their suc­ces­sors returned to pow­er after Croa­t­ia declared inde­pen­dence from the for­mer Yugoslavia – a for­mer social­ist coun­try that was inten­tion­al­ly balka­nized in a NATO war, much in the same way that Marinkovic hoped Bolivia would be.
Marinkovic denies that his fam­i­ly was part of the Ustashe. He claimed in an inter­view with the New York Times that his father fought against the Nazis. But even some of his sym­pa­thiz­ers are skep­ti­cal. A Balkan ana­lyst from the pri­vate intel­li­gence firm Strat­for, which works close­ly with the US gov­ern­ment and is pop­u­lar­ly known as the “shad­ow CIA,” pro­duced a rough back­ground pro­file on Marinkovic, spec­u­lat­ing, “Still don’t know his full sto­ry, but I would bet a lot of $$$ that this dude’s par­ents are 1st gen (his name is too Slav­ic) and that they were Ustashe (read: Nazi) sym­pa­thiz­ers flee­ing Tito’s Com­mu­nists after WWII.”  The Strat­for ana­lyst excerpt­ed a 2006 arti­cle by jour­nal­ist Chris­t­ian Par­en­ti, who had vis­it­ed Marinkovic at his ranch in San­ta Cruz. Evo Morales’ “land reform could lead to civ­il war,” Marinkovic warned Par­en­ti in the Texas-accent­ed Eng­lish he picked up while study­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas, Hous­ton.
Today, Marinkovic is an ardent sup­port­er of Brazil’s far-right leader Jair Bol­sonaro, whose only com­plaint about Chilean dic­ta­tor Augus­to Pinochet was that he “didn’t kill enough.” Marinkovic is also a pub­lic admir­er of Venezuela’s far-right oppo­si­tion. “Todos somos Leopol­do” — “we are all Leopol­do,” he tweet­ed in sup­port of Leopol­do López, who has been involved in numer­ous coup attempts against Venezuela’s elect­ed left­ist gov­ern­ment. While Marinkovic denied any role in armed mil­i­tant activ­i­ty in his inter­view with Par­en­ti, he was accused in 2008 of play­ing a cen­tral role in an attempt to assas­si­nate Morales and his Move­ment Toward Social­ism par­ty allies. He told the New York Times less than two years before the plot devel­oped, “If there is no legit­i­mate inter­na­tion­al medi­a­tion in our cri­sis, there is going to be con­fronta­tion. And unfor­tu­nate­ly, it is going to be bloody and painful for all Boli­vians.”
An assas­si­na­tion plot links Bolivia’s right to inter­na­tion­al fas­cists.
In April 2009, a spe­cial unit of the Boli­vian secu­ri­ty ser­vices barged into a lux­u­ry hotel room and cut down three men who were said to be involved in a plot to kill Evo Morales. Two oth­ers remained on the loose. Four of the alleged con­spir­a­tors had Hun­gar­i­an or Croa­t­ian roots and ties to right­ist pol­i­tics in east­ern Europe, while anoth­er was a right-wing Irish­man, Michael Dwyer, who had only arrived in San­ta Cruz six months before. The ring­leader of the group was said to be a for­mer left­ist jour­nal­ist named Eduar­do Rosza-Flo­res who had turned to fas­cism and belonged to Opus Dei, the tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholic cult that emerged under the dic­ta­tor­ship of Spain’s Fran­cis­co Fran­co. In fact, the code­name Rosza-Flo­res assumed in the assas­si­na­tion plot was “Fran­co,” after the late Gen­er­alis­si­mo.
Dur­ing the 1990s, Rosza fought on behalf of the Croa­t­ian First Inter­na­tion­al Pla­toon, or the PIV, in the war to sep­a­rate from Yugoslavia. A Croa­t­ian jour­nal­ist told Time that the “PIV was a noto­ri­ous group: 95% of them had crim­i­nal his­to­ries, many were part of Nazi and fas­cist groups, from Ger­many to Ire­land.” By 2009, Rosza returned home to Bolivia to cru­sade on behalf of anoth­er sep­a­ratist move­ment in San­ta Cruz. And it was there that he was killed in a lux­u­ry hotel with no appar­ent source of income and a mas­sive stock­pile of guns. The gov­ern­ment lat­er released pho­tos of Rosza and a co-con­spir­a­tor pos­ing with their weapons. Pub­li­ca­tion of emails between the ring­leader and Ist­van Belo­vai, a for­mer Hun­gar­i­an mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer who served as a dou­ble agent for the CIA, cement­ed the per­cep­tion that Wash­ing­ton had a hand in the oper­a­tion.
Marinkovic was sub­se­quent­ly charged with pro­vid­ing $200,000 to the plot­ters. The Boli­vian-Croa­t­ian oli­garch ini­tial­ly fled to the Unit­ed States, where he was giv­en asy­lum, then relo­cat­ed to Brazil, where he lives today. He denied any involve­ment in the plan to kill Morales. As jour­nal­ist Matt Ken­nard report­ed, there was anoth­er thread that tied the plot to the US: the alleged par­tic­i­pa­tion of an NGO leader named Hugo Achá Mel­gar. “Rozsa didn’t come here by him­self, they brought him,” the Boli­vian government’s lead inves­ti­ga­tor told Ken­nard. “Hugo Achá Mel­gar brought him.”
The Human Rights Foun­da­tion desta­bi­lizes Bolivia
Achá was not just the head of any run-of-the-mill NGO. He had found­ed the Boli­vian sub­sidiary of the Human Rights Foun­da­tion (HRF), an inter­na­tion­al right-wing out­fit that is known for host­ing a “school for rev­o­lu­tion” for activists seek­ing regime change in states tar­get­ed by the US gov­ern­ment. HRF is run by Thor Halvorssen Jr., the son of the late Venezue­lan oli­garch and CIA asset Thor Halvorssen Hel­lum. The first cousin of the vet­er­an Venezue­lan coup plot­ter Leopol­do Lopez, Halvorssen was a for­mer col­lege Repub­li­can activist who cru­sad­ed against polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and oth­er famil­iar right-wing hob­gob­lins.
After a brief career as a fire­brand right-wing film pro­duc­er, in which he over­saw a scan­dalous “anti-envi­ron­men­tal­ist” doc­u­men­tary financed by a min­ing cor­po­ra­tion, Halvorssen rebrand­ed as a pro­mot­er of lib­er­al­ism and the ene­my of glob­al author­i­tar­i­an­ism. He launched the HRF with grants from right-wing bil­lion­aires like Peter Thiel, con­ser­v­a­tive foun­da­tions, and NGOs includ­ing Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al. The group has since been at the fore­front of train­ing activists for insur­rec­tionary activ­i­ty from Hong Kong to the Mid­dle East to Latin Amer­i­ca.
Though Achá was grant­ed asy­lum in the US, the HRF has con­tin­ued push­ing regime change in Bolivia. As Wyatt Reed report­ed for The Gray­zone, HRF “free­dom fel­low” Jhanisse Vaca Daza helped trig­ger the ini­tial stage of the coup by blam­ing Morales for the Ama­zon fires that con­sumed parts of Bolivia in August, mobi­liz­ing inter­na­tion­al protests against him. At the time, Daza posed as an “envi­ron­men­tal activist” and stu­dent of non-vio­lence who artic­u­lat­ed her con­cerns in mod­er­ate-seem­ing calls for more inter­na­tion­al aid to Bolivia. Through her NGO, Rios de Pie, she helped launch the #SOS­Bo­livia hash­tag, which sig­naled the immi­nent for­eign-backed regime-change oper­a­tion.
Court­ing the region­al right, prep­ping the coup
While HRF’s Daza ral­lied protests out­side Boli­vian embassies in Europe and the US, Fer­nan­do Cama­cho remained behind the scenes, lob­by­ing right-wing gov­ern­ments in the region to bless the com­ing coup. In May, Cama­cho met with Colombia’s far-right Pres­i­dent Ivan Duque. Cama­cho was help­ing to spear­head region­al efforts at under­min­ing the legit­i­ma­cy of Evo Morales’ pres­i­den­cy at the Inter-Amer­i­can Court of Human Rights, seek­ing to block his can­di­da­cy in the Octo­ber elec­tion. That same month, the right­ist Boli­vian agi­ta­tor also met with Ernesto Araújo, the chan­cel­lor of Jair Bolsonaro’s ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive admin­is­tra­tion in Brazil. Through the meet­ing, Cama­cho suc­cess­ful­ly secured Bolsonaro’s back­ing for regime change in Bolivia. This Novem­ber 10, Araújo enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly endorsed the ouster of Morales, declar­ing that “Brazil will sup­port the demo­c­ra­t­ic and con­sti­tu­tion­al tran­si­tion” in the coun­try. Then in August, two months before Bolivia’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Cama­cho held court with offi­cials from Venezuela’s US-appoint­ed coup regime. These includ­ed Gus­ta­vo Tarre, Guaido’s faux Venezue­lan OAS ambas­sador, who for­mer­ly worked at the right-wing Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies (CSIS) think tank in Wash­ing­ton. After the meet­ing, Cama­cho tweet­ed grat­i­tude to the Venezue­lan coup-mon­gers, as well as to Colom­bia and Brazil.
No vamos a parar has­ta ten­er una democ­ra­cia real! Seguimos avan­zan­do! Vamos suman­do apoyo… aho­ra lo hace Venezuela…Gracias a Dios.. hay esper­an­za! Gra­cias Colom­bia! Gra­cias Venezuela! Gra­cias Brasil! pic.twitter.com/v9TQ2Fi2Sa — Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho (@LuisFerCamachoV) August 27, 2019
Mesa and Cama­cho: a mar­riage of cap­i­tal­ist con­ve­nience Back in Bolivia, Car­los Mesa occu­pied the spot­light as the opposition’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. His eru­dite image and cen­trist pol­i­cy pro­pos­als put him in a seem­ing­ly alter­nate polit­i­cal uni­verse from fire-breath­ing right­ists like Cama­cho and Marinkovic. For them, he was a con­ve­nient front man and accept­able can­di­date who promised to defend their eco­nom­ic inter­ests. “It might be that he is not my favorite, but I’m going to vote for him, because I don’t want Evo,” Marinkovic told a right-wing Argen­tine news­pa­per five days before the elec­tion. Indeed, it was Camacho’s prac­ti­cal finan­cial inter­ests that appeared to have neces­si­tat­ed his sup­port for Mesa. The Cama­cho fam­i­ly has formed a nat­ur­al gas car­tel in San­ta Cruz. As the Boli­vian out­let Primera Lin­ea report­ed, Luis Fer­nan­do Camacho’s father, Jose Luis, was the own­er of a com­pa­ny called Ser­gas that dis­trib­uted gas in the city; his uncle, Enrique, con­trolled Socre, the com­pa­ny that ran the local gas pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties; and his cousin, Cris­t­ian, con­trols anoth­er local gas dis­trib­u­tor called Con­tro­gas. Accord­ing to Primera Lin­ea, the Cama­cho fam­i­ly was using the Pro-San­ta Cruz Com­mit­tee as a polit­i­cal weapon to install Car­los Mesa into pow­er and ensure the restora­tion of their busi­ness empire.
Mesa has a well-doc­u­ment­ed his­to­ry of advanc­ing the goals of transna­tion­al com­pa­nies at the expense of his own country’s pop­u­la­tion.
 The neolib­er­al politi­cian and media per­son­al­i­ty served as vice pres­i­dent when the US-backed Pres­i­dent Gon­za­lo “Goni” Sanchez de Loza­da pro­voked mass protests with his 2003 plan to allow a con­sor­tium of multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions to export the country’s nat­ur­al gas to the US through a Chilean port. Bolivia’s US-trained secu­ri­ty forces met the fero­cious protests with bru­tal repres­sion. After pre­sid­ing over the killing of 70 unarmed pro­test­ers, Sanchez de Loza­da fled to Mia­mi and was suc­ceed­ed by Mesa. By 2005, Mesa was also oust­ed by huge demon­stra­tions spurred by his pro­tec­tion of pri­va­tized nat­ur­al gas com­pa­nies. With his demise, the elec­tion of Morales and the rise of the social­ist and rur­al Indige­nous move­ments behind him were just beyond the hori­zon. US gov­ern­ment cables released by Wik­iLeaks show that, after his ouster, Mesa con­tin­ued reg­u­lar cor­re­spon­dence with Amer­i­can offi­cials. A 2008 memo from the US embassy in Bolivia revealed that Wash­ing­ton was con­spir­ing with oppo­si­tion politi­cians in the lead-up to the 2009 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, hop­ing to under­mine and ulti­mate­ly unseat Morales.
The memo not­ed that Mesa had met with the chargé d’affaires of the US embassy, and had pri­vate­ly told them he planned to run for pres­i­dent. The cable recalled: “Mesa told us his par­ty will be ide­o­log­i­cal­ly sim­i­lar to a social demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty and that he hoped to strength­en ties with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty. ‘We have noth­ing against the Repub­li­can par­ty, and have in fact got­ten sup­port from IRI (Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute) in the past, but we think we share more ide­ol­o­gy with the Democ­rats,’ he added.” [see pic of wik­ileaks doc­u­ment] Today, Mesa serves as an in-house “expert” at the Inter-Amer­i­can Dia­logue, a neolib­er­al Wash­ing­ton-based think tank focused on Latin Amer­i­ca. One of the Dialogue’s top donors is the US Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment (USAID), the State Depart­ment sub­sidiary that was exposed in clas­si­fied diplo­mat­ic cables pub­lished on Wik­ileaks for strate­gi­cal­ly direct­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to oppo­si­tion groups includ­ing those “opposed to Evo Morales’ vision for indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.” Oth­er top fun­ders of the Dia­logue include oil titans like Chevron and Exxon­Mo­bil; Bech­tel, which inspired the ini­tial protests against the admin­is­tra­tion in which Mesa served; the Inter-Amer­i­can Devel­op­ment Bank, which has force­ful­ly opposed Morales’ social­ist-ori­ent­ed poli­cies; and the Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States (OAS), which helped dele­git­imize the Morales’s re-elec­tion vic­to­ry with dubi­ous claims of irreg­u­lar vote counts. . . . ———-

2a. Cen­tral to the mul­ti-nation­al dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Evo Morales is his nation­al­iza­tion of some of Bolivi­a’s min­er­al resource indus­try. And cen­tral to the Boli­vian min­er­al resource inven­to­ry is lithi­um, essen­tial for the man­u­fac­ture of elec­tric car bat­ter­ies: ” . . . . The main tar­get is its mas­sive deposits of lithi­um, cru­cial for the elec­tric car. . . .”

Bolivia has been report­ed to hold up to 70 per­cent of the world’s lithi­um, and the Morales gov­ern­men­t’s piv­ot toward devel­op­ing those reserves in tan­dem with Chi­nese firms, rather than West­ern transna­tion­als, may well have been the cen­tral dynam­ic in his ouster. ” . . . . Over the course of the past few years, Bolivia has strug­gled to raise invest­ment to devel­op the lithi­um reserves in a way that brings the wealth back into the coun­try for its peo­ple. Morales’ Vice Pres­i­dent Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era had said that lithi­um is the ‘fuel that will feed the world.’ Bolivia was unable to make deals with West­ern transna­tion­al firms; it decid­ed to part­ner with Chi­nese firms. This made the Morales gov­ern­ment vul­ner­a­ble. It had walked into the new Cold War between the West and Chi­na. The coup against Morales can­not be under­stood with­out a glance at this clash. . . .”

The com­plex­i­ties of the Salar de Uyu­ni salt flats–location of much of Bolivi­a’s lithi­um reserves–mandate the tech­no­log­i­cal involve­ment of for­eign firms. A deal reached with Ger­man ACI Sys­tems (heav­i­ly sub­si­dized by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment) was negat­ed by protests on the part of local res­i­dents in the Salar de Uyu­ni area. Chi­nese firms were poised to fill that vac­u­um, offer­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a more equi­table devel­op­ment of the min­er­al. ” . . . . Last year, Germany’s ACI Sys­tems agreed to a deal with Bolivia. After protests from res­i­dents in the Salar de Uyu­ni region, Morales can­celed that deal on Novem­ber 4, 2019. Chi­nese firms—such as TBEA Group and Chi­na Machin­ery Engineering—made a deal with YLB. It was being said that China’s Tian­qi Lithi­um Group, which oper­ates in Argenti­na, was going to make a deal with YLB. Both Chi­nese invest­ment and the Boli­vian lithi­um com­pa­ny were exper­i­ment­ing with new ways to both mine the lithi­um and to share the prof­its of the lithi­um. The idea that there might be a new social com­pact for the lithi­um was unac­cept­able to the main transna­tion­al min­ing com­pa­nies. . . .”

After the ouster of Morales, the val­ue of Tes­la’s stock increased dra­mat­i­cal­ly.

“After Morales Oust­ed in Coup, the Lithi­um Ques­tion Looms Large in Bolivia” by Vijay Prashad; Com­mon Dreams; 11/12/2019.

Bolivia’s Pres­i­dent Evo Morales was over­thrown in a mil­i­tary coup on Novem­ber 10. He is now in Mex­i­co. Before he left office, Morales had been involved in a long project to bring eco­nom­ic and social democ­ra­cy to his long-exploit­ed coun­try. It is impor­tant to recall that Bolivia has suf­fered a series of coups, often con­duct­ed by the mil­i­tary and the oli­garchy on behalf of transna­tion­al min­ing com­pa­nies. Ini­tial­ly, these were tin firms, but tin is no longer the main tar­get in Bolivia. The main tar­get is its mas­sive deposits of lithi­um, cru­cial for the elec­tric car.
Over the past 13 years, Morales has tried to build a dif­fer­ent rela­tion­ship between his coun­try and its resources. He has not want­ed the resources to ben­e­fit the transna­tion­al min­ing firms, but rather to ben­e­fit his own pop­u­la­tion. Part of that promise was met as Bolivia’s pover­ty rate has declined, and as Bolivia’s pop­u­la­tion was able to improve its social indi­ca­tors. Nation­al­iza­tion of resources com­bined with the use of its income to fund social devel­op­ment has played a role. The atti­tude of the Morales gov­ern­ment toward the transna­tion­al firms pro­duced a harsh response from them, many of them tak­ing Bolivia to court.
“The idea that there might be a new social com­pact for the lithi­um was unac­cept­able to the main transna­tion­al min­ing com­pa­nies.”
Over the course of the past few years, Bolivia has strug­gled to raise invest­ment to devel­op the lithi­um reserves in a way that brings the wealth back into the coun­try for its peo­ple. Morales’ Vice Pres­i­dent Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era had said that lithi­um is the “fuel that will feed the world.” Bolivia was unable to make deals with West­ern transna­tion­al firms; it decid­ed to part­ner with Chi­nese firms. This made the Morales gov­ern­ment vul­ner­a­ble. It had walked into the new Cold War between the West and Chi­na. The coup against Morales can­not be under­stood with­out a glance at this clash.
Clash With the Transna­tion­al Firms
When Evo Morales and the Move­ment for Social­ism took pow­er in 2006, the gov­ern­ment imme­di­ate­ly sought to undo decades of theft by transna­tion­al min­ing firms. Morales’ gov­ern­ment seized sev­er­al of the min­ing oper­a­tions of the most pow­er­ful firms, such as Glen­core, Jin­dal Steel & Pow­er, Anglo-Argen­tine Pan Amer­i­can Ener­gy, and South Amer­i­can Sil­ver (now TriMet­als Min­ing). It sent a mes­sage that busi­ness as usu­al was not going to con­tin­ue. Nonethe­less, these large firms con­tin­ued their operations—based on old­er contracts—in some areas of the coun­try. For exam­ple, the Cana­di­an transna­tion­al firm South Amer­i­can Sil­ver had cre­at­ed a com­pa­ny in 2003—before Morales came to power—to mine the Malku Kho­ta for sil­ver and indi­um (a rare earth met­al used in flat-screen tele­vi­sions). South Amer­i­can Sil­ver then began to extend its reach into its con­ces­sions. The land that it claimed was inhab­it­ed by indige­nous Boli­vians, who argued that the com­pa­ny was destroy­ing its sacred spaces as well as pro­mot­ing an atmos­phere of vio­lence.
On August 1, 2012, the Morales government—by Supreme Decree no. 1308—annulled the con­tract with South Amer­i­can Sil­ver (TriMet­als Min­ing), which then sought inter­na­tion­al arbi­tra­tion and com­pen­sa­tion. Canada’s gov­ern­ment of Justin Trudeau—as part of a broad­er push on behalf of Cana­di­an min­ing com­pa­nies in South America—put an immense amount of pres­sure on Bolivia. In August 2019, TriMet­als struck a deal with the Boli­vian gov­ern­ment for $25.8 mil­lion, about a tenth of what it had ear­li­er demand­ed as com­pen­sa­tion. Jin­dal Steel, an Indi­an transna­tion­al cor­po­ra­tion, had an old con­tract to mine iron ore from Bolivia’s El Mutún, a con­tract that was put on hold by the Morales gov­ern­ment in 2007. In July 2012, Jin­dal Steel ter­mi­nat­ed the con­tract and sought inter­na­tion­al arbi­tra­tion and com­pen­sa­tion for its invest­ment.
In 2014, it won $22.5 mil­lion from Bolivia in a rul­ing from Paris-based Inter­na­tion­al Cham­ber of Com­merce. For anoth­er case against Bolivia, Jin­dal Steel demand­ed $100 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion. The Morales gov­ern­ment seized three facil­i­ties from the Swiss-based transna­tion­al min­ing firm Glen­core; these includ­ed a tin and zinc mine as well as two smelters. The mine’s expro­pri­a­tion took place after Glencore’s sub­sidiary clashed vio­lent­ly with min­ers. Most aggres­sive­ly, Pan Amer­i­can sued the Boli­vian gov­ern­ment for $1.5 bil­lion for the expro­pri­a­tion of the Anglo-Argen­tin­ian company’s stake in nat­ur­al gas pro­duc­er Cha­co by the state. Bolivia set­tled for $357 mil­lion in 2014.
The scale of these pay­outs is enor­mous. It was esti­mat­ed in 2014 that the pub­lic and pri­vate pay­ments made for nation­al­iza­tion of these key sec­tors amount­ed to at least $1.9 bil­lion (Bolivia’s GDP was at that time $28 bil­lion). In 2014, even the Finan­cial Times agreed that Morales’ strat­e­gy was not entire­ly inap­pro­pri­ate. “Proof of the suc­cess of Morales’s eco­nom­ic mod­el is that since com­ing to pow­er he has tripled the size of the econ­o­my while ramp­ing up record for­eign reserves.”
Lithi­um
Bolivia’s key reserves are in lithi­um, which is essen­tial for the elec­tric car. Bolivia claims to have 70 per­cent of the world’s lithi­um reserves, most­ly in the Salar de Uyu­ni salt flats. The com­plex­i­ty of the min­ing and pro­cess­ing has meant that Bolivia has not been able to devel­op the lithi­um indus­try on its own. It requires cap­i­tal, and it requires exper­tise. The salt flat is about 12,000 feet (3,600 meters) above sea lev­el, and it receives high rain­fall. This makes it dif­fi­cult to use sun-based evap­o­ra­tion. Such sim­pler solu­tions are avail­able to Chile’s Ata­ca­ma Desert and in Argentina’s Hom­bre Muer­to. More tech­ni­cal solu­tions are need­ed for Bolivia, which means that more invest­ment is need­ed. The nation­al­iza­tion pol­i­cy of the Morales gov­ern­ment and the geo­graph­i­cal com­plex­i­ty of Salar de Uyu­ni chased away sev­er­al transna­tion­al min­ing firms. Eram­et (France), FMC (Unit­ed States) and Posco (South Korea) could not make deals with Bolivia, so they now oper­ate in Argenti­na.
Morales made it clear that any devel­op­ment of the lithi­um had to be done with Bolivia’s Comibol—its nation­al min­ing company—and Yacimien­tos de Litio Boli­vianos (YLB)—its nation­al lithi­um company—as equal part­ners. Last year, Germany’s ACI Sys­tems agreed to a deal with Bolivia. After protests from res­i­dents in the Salar de Uyu­ni region, Morales can­celed that deal on Novem­ber 4, 2019. Chi­nese firms—such as TBEA Group and Chi­na Machin­ery Engineering—made a deal with YLB. It was being said that China’s Tian­qi Lithi­um Group, which oper­ates in Argenti­na, was going to make a deal with YLB. Both Chi­nese invest­ment and the Boli­vian lithi­um com­pa­ny were exper­i­ment­ing with new ways to both mine the lithi­um and to share the prof­its of the lithi­um. The idea that there might be a new social com­pact for the lithi­um was unac­cept­able to the main transna­tion­al min­ing com­pa­nies. Tes­la (Unit­ed States) and Pure Ener­gy Min­er­als (Cana­da) both showed great inter­est in hav­ing a direct stake in Boli­vian lithi­um. But they could not make a deal that would take into con­sid­er­a­tion the para­me­ters set by the Morales gov­ern­ment. Morales him­self was a direct imped­i­ment to the takeover of the lithi­um fields by the non-Chi­nese transna­tion­al firms. He had to go. After the coup, Tesla’s stock rose astro­nom­i­cal­ly.

2b. The ACI/Bolivia deal had heavy back­ing by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment and fea­tured the planned export of lithi­um to Ger­many and else­where in Europe. ” . . . . With the joint ven­ture, Boli­vian state com­pa­ny YLB is team­ing up with Germany’s pri­vate­ly-owned ACI Sys­tems to devel­op its mas­sive Uyu­ni salt flat and build a lithi­um hydrox­ide plant as well as a fac­to­ry for elec­tric vehi­cle bat­ter­ies in Bolivia. ACI Sys­tems is also in talks to sup­ply com­pa­nies based in Ger­many and else­where in Europe with lithi­um from Bolivia. . . . Wolf­gang Schmutz, CEO of ACI Group, the par­ent com­pa­ny of ACI Sys­tems, said more than 80 per­cent of the lithi­um would be export­ed to Ger­many. . . .”

Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance for the dis­cus­sion to fol­low is ” . . . . Chi­na’s dom­i­nance in the glob­al lithi­um sup­ply chain and its strong ties with La Paz. . . .”

“Ger­many secures access to vast lithi­um deposit in Bolivia” by Michael Nien­aber; Reuters; 12/12/2018

 Ger­many and Bolivia on Wednes­day sealed a part­ner­ship for the indus­tri­al use of lithi­um, a key raw mate­r­i­al for bat­tery cell pro­duc­tion, in an impor­tant step to become less depen­dent on Asian mar­ket lead­ers in the dawn­ing age of elec­tric cars. Inter­est in bat­tery met­als such as cobalt, nick­el and lithi­um is soar­ing as the auto indus­try scram­bles to build more elec­tric cars and cut nox­ious fumes from vehi­cles pow­ered by fos­sil fuels in light of stricter emis­sion rules. “Ger­many should become a lead­ing loca­tion for bat­tery cell pro­duc­tion. A large part of pro­duc­tion costs is linked to raw mate­ri­als,” Ger­man Econ­o­my Min­is­ter Peter Alt­maier said. “Ger­man indus­try is there­fore well advised to secure its needs for lithi­um ear­ly in order to avoid falling behind and slip­ping into depen­den­cy,” Alt­maier said, adding the deal was “an impor­tant build­ing block” to secure this sup­ply.
With the joint ven­ture, Boli­vian state com­pa­ny YLB is team­ing up with Germany’s pri­vate­ly-owned ACI Sys­tems to devel­op its mas­sive Uyu­ni salt flat and build a lithi­um hydrox­ide plant as well as a fac­to­ry for elec­tric vehi­cle bat­ter­ies in Bolivia. ACI Sys­tems is also in talks to sup­ply com­pa­nies based in Ger­many and else­where in Europe with lithi­um from Bolivia. The joint ven­ture aims to pro­duce up to 40,000 tons of lithi­um hydrox­ide per year from 2022 over a peri­od of 70 years. Wolf­gang Schmutz, CEO of ACI Group, the par­ent com­pa­ny of ACI Sys­tems, said more than 80 per­cent of the lithi­um would be export­ed to Ger­many.
ACI Sys­tems is in talks to sup­ply a big Ger­man car­mak­er with lithi­um, accord­ing to a per­son famil­iar with the project. An ACI Sys­tems spokes­woman declined to com­ment.
MORE CONTROL
For Ger­many, the pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship is part of wider gov­ern­ment efforts to sup­port the pro­duc­tion of bat­tery cells in Europe and help com­pa­nies get more con­trol over the val­ue-added chain of elec­tric vehi­cles. The gov­ern­ment has ear­marked 1 bil­lion euros to sup­port domes­tic com­pa­nies look­ing to pro­duce bat­tery cells for elec­tric vehi­cles as a way to reduce Ger­man car­mak­ers’ depen­dence on Asian sup­pli­ers and pro­tect jobs at risk from the shift away from com­bus­tion engines.
For Bolivia, the deal to extract lithi­um from the Uyu­ni salt flats in the Andes, one of the world’s largest deposits, enables the gov­ern­ment to bring jobs to a region plagued by pover­ty. Nicole Hoffmeis­ter-Kraut, econ­o­my min­is­ter of Germany’s south­west­ern state of Baden-Wuert­tem­berg, the home region of ACI Sys­tems, said the lithi­um deal would help Ger­man car­mak­ers to become less depen­dent on Asian sup­pli­ers of car bat­ter­ies. The suc­cess of the ven­ture now depends on whether both sides can rec­on­cile eco­nom­ic inter­ests with envi­ron­men­tal and social require­ments, she added.
LITHIUM TRIANGLE
Pres­i­dent Evo Morales has sought to keep lithi­um from being export­ed mere­ly as raw mate­r­i­al and Germany’s will­ing­ness to help build pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties in Bolivia played a key role in the deci­sion to start the joint ven­ture. When Bolivia sought a for­eign part­ner to devel­op Uyu­ni, a Chi­nese com­pa­ny seemed a nat­ur­al fit, giv­en China’s dom­i­nance in the glob­al lithi­um sup­ply chain and its strong ties with La Paz. Instead, Bolivia picked ACI Sys­tems, a com­pa­ny from south­ern Ger­many untest­ed in lithi­um that nonethe­less beat sev­en rivals from Chi­na, Rus­sia and Cana­da. Back­ing from Ger­man fed­er­al and region­al min­istries was key to per­suad­ing Bolivia ACI’s bid was seri­ous, com­pa­ny and gov­ern­ment offi­cials from Bolivia and Ger­many told Reuters. ———–

2c. Short­ly after the ouster of Morales, Tes­la announced that Tes­la would locate a new car and elec­tric bat­tery fac­to­ry near Berlin. If the ACI lithi­um devel­op­ment project in Bolivia is resus­ci­tat­ed, the Tes­la move will give the firm access to the Boli­vian lithi­um.

Might that have been the rea­son for the rise in Tes­la’s stock? Might there have been some insid­er trad­ing?

“Ger­man automa­tion tal­ent pow­ers Musk’s bat­tery move to Europe” by Edward Tay­lor; Reuters; 11/14/2019

To unclog bot­tle­necks last year at his Tes­la Inc (TSLA.O) plant in Cal­i­for­nia, Elon Musk flew in six plane­loads of new robots and equip­ment from Ger­many to speed up bat­tery pro­duc­tion for its Mod­el 3. Now the Tes­la CEO is try­ing to tap that Ger­man automa­tion ecosys­tem direct­ly with Tuesday’s announce­ment that the elec­tric car­mak­er will build a Euro­pean car and bat­tery fac­to­ry near Berlin. So far, Musk has failed in his plans to cre­ate a fac­to­ry so high­ly auto­mat­ed that it allows Tes­la to make cars more effi­cient­ly than much big­ger rivals. As a result, the automak­er has strug­gled to meet pro­duc­tion goals and been hit with defec­tions of key staff mem­bers to rival firms. The new Ger­man fac­to­ry is designed to help change all that.
“Every­one knows Ger­man engi­neer­ing is out­stand­ing for sure. You know that is part of the rea­son why we are locat­ing Gigafac­to­ry Europe in Ger­many,” Musk said at a pres­ti­gious Ger­man car awards cer­e­mo­ny in Berlin late on Tues­day. BMW (BMWG.DE) has a fac­to­ry in Leipzig, where it builds its i3 elec­tric vehi­cle and it will source bat­tery cells from a fac­to­ry in Erfurt run by China’s Con­tem­po­rary Amperex Tech­nol­o­gy Ltd (CATL) (300750.SZ).. VW is retool­ing a plant in Zwick­au to build 330,000 elec­tric cars and Ger­man engi­neer­ing giant Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE), which has an indus­tri­al and tech­nol­o­gy hub in Berlin, last week said it met with Musk to dis­cuss projects in the area of advanced man­u­fac­tur­ing and car charg­ing. Ger­man car­mak­ers and sup­pli­ers are tap­ping in to a 1 bil­lion euro ($1.10 bil­lion) fund set up by Ger­many to increase bat­tery cell pro­duc­tion and are fur­ther aid­ed by a gov­ern­ment-fund­ed research facil­i­ty to increase bat­tery cell devel­op­ment know-how.
PRODUCTION GOAL
Tes­la has yet to meet its goal of build­ing more than 500,000 Mod­el 3 cars by 2018. That goal was set back in 2016 and since then Tesla’s pro­duc­tion guru, Peter Hochholdinger, a for­mer Audi pro­duc­tion expert, quit to joined rival Lucid. This year Tes­la expects to deliv­er 360,000 to 400,000 cars, a tar­get that includes sell­ing all mod­els. By con­trast, the Volk­swa­gen brand deliv­ered 6.24 mil­lion cars last year and is ready­ing its glob­al pro­duc­tion net­work to build 22 mil­lion elec­tric cars by 2028. To ramp up man­u­fac­tur­ing, Tes­la start­ed mak­ing its Mod­el 3 in a tent, but the Cal­i­for­nia-built cars often failed to meet Ger­man qual­i­ty stan­dards. In August, Ger­man car rental com­pa­ny Nextmove walked away from a 5 mil­lion-euro ($5.55 mil­lion) order for 85 Tes­la Mod­el 3 elec­tric vehi­cles, fol­low­ing a dis­pute over how to fix qual­i­ty issues.
POTENTIAL FOR AUTOMATION
Although Tes­la has cho­sen a high-cost loca­tion, there is high­er poten­tial for automa­tion with elec­tric cars since they are less com­plex to build than com­bus­tion engined vehi­cles. A com­bus­tion engined car has 1,400 com­po­nents in the motor, exhaust sys­tem and trans­mis­sion. By con­trast, an elec­tric car’s bat­tery and motor has only 200 com­po­nents, accord­ing to ana­lysts at ING. While the aver­age com­bus­tion engine takes 3.5 hours to make, and the aver­age trans­mis­sion requires 2.7 hours of assem­bly, an elec­tric motor takes only about 1 hour to assem­ble, con­sul­tants at Alix Part­ners said in their Glob­al Auto­mo­tive Out­look study. “Per­son­nel is not a high cost fac­tor in the pro­duc­tion of elec­tric cars,” Ever­core ISI ana­lyst Arndt Elling­horst said. Today the biggest cost fac­tor is still bat­tery packs, which amount to between 30% and 50% of the cost of an elec­tric vehi­cle.
QUALITY VS SCALE
By adding the “Made in Ger­many” qual­i­ty, Tes­la could sig­nif­i­cant­ly boost sales of its elec­tric cars, which are already class-lead­ing. On Tues­day Tesla’s Mod­el 3 was award­ed the “Gold­en Steer­ing Wheel” by Germany’s Auto Bild mag­a­zine, with jury mem­ber Robin Horn­ing say­ing the Mod­el 3 had beat­en the new BMW 3 series and the Audi A4 in “mid and pre­mi­um class” cat­e­go­ry. . . . ———-

3b. Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca is rebrand­ing under a new com­pa­ny, Emer­da­ta. Intrigu­ing­ly, Cam­bridge Analytica’s trans­for­ma­tion into Emer­da­ta is note­wor­thy because  the fir­m’s direc­tors include John­son Ko Chun Shun, a Hong Kong financier and busi­ness part­ner of Erik Prince: ” . . . . But the company’s announce­ment left sev­er­al ques­tions unan­swered, includ­ing who would retain the company’s intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty — the so-called psy­cho­graph­ic vot­er pro­files built in part with data from Face­book — and whether Cam­bridge Analytica’s data-min­ing busi­ness would return under new aus­pices. . . . In recent months, exec­u­tives at Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca and SCL Group, along with the Mer­cer fam­i­ly, have moved to cre­at­ed a new firm, Emer­da­ta, based in Britain, accord­ing to British records. The new company’s direc­tors include John­son Ko Chun Shun, a Hong Kong financier and busi­ness part­ner of Erik Prince. . . . An exec­u­tive and a part own­er of SCL Group, Nigel Oakes, has pub­licly described Emer­da­ta as a way of rolling up the two com­pa­nies under one new ban­ner. . . . 

Again, we ask if the SCL/Cambridge Ana­lyt­i­ca reborn cor­po­rate syn­the­sis may have had some­thing to do with the unrest in Hong Kong?

3c. The ini­tial deci­sion by the Morales gov­ern­ment to con­tract with Chi­nese firms  (after the nega­tion of the ACI deal with Ger­many) should be eval­u­at­ed against the back­ground of Chi­na’s pre­em­i­nence in “Green” tech­nolo­gies, includ­ing elec­tric car tech­nol­o­gy.

Note the alarmist tone of the New York Times op-ed. It would be great if the U.S. would put a major effort into devel­op­ing green tech­nolo­gies. The U.S. is going in the oppo­site direc­tion, how­ev­er.

“Our Green Ener­gy Chal­lenge” by John Ker­ry and Ro Khan­na; The New York Times; 12/10/2019.

. . . . We should pledge that by the end of the next decade, Amer­i­ca will sur­pass Chi­na and win the clean ener­gy race.

We aren’t win­ning the clean ener­gy race today. In many ways, we aren’t even try­ing. Chi­na is becom­ing an ener­gy super­pow­er. Ear­li­er this year, the Glob­al Com­mis­sion on the Geopol­i­tics of the Ener­gy Trans­for­ma­tion report­ed that Chi­na became the world’s largest pro­duc­er, exporter and installer of solar pan­els, wind tur­bines, bat­ter­ies and elec­tric vehi­cles, fol­lowed by Japan and Ger­many. The Unit­ed States ranks fourth.

Chi­na sur­passed us for the lead in renew­able ener­gy tech­nol­o­gy, too, with 150,000 patents — mak­ing up 30 per­cent of the world’s total. We are sec­ond with just over 100,000 patents, while Japan and the Euro­pean Union fol­low with about 75,000 each.

In 2015, Chi­na sur­passed us to become the largest elec­tric vehi­cle mar­ket and is on pace to dom­i­nate pro­duc­tion for the next 20 years. Chi­nese elec­tric vehi­cles account for 60 per­cent of glob­al sales: 876,000 vehi­cles were pro­duced last year com­pared with 361,000 in Amer­i­ca.

Chi­na is doing things we are afraid to do. They offer cit­i­zens large sub­si­dies for pur­chas­ing elec­tric vehi­cles from state-owned com­pa­nies. Munic­i­pal­i­ties waive fees for elec­tric vehi­cle own­ers. The city of Shen­zhen, which has a pop­u­la­tion of 12.5 mil­lion peo­ple, runs a 100 per­cent elec­tric vehi­cle bus fleet and is, by fiat, con­vert­ing 22,000 taxis to elec­tric vehi­cles.

High-speed rail also is inte­gral to China’s strat­e­gy. It has the largest high-speed rail­way in the world, with 19,000 miles of track and most major cities con­nect­ed by the net­work. The Unit­ed States has less than 500 miles. Our fastest train takes 19 to 22 hours from New York to Chica­go, where­as the same dis­tance in Chi­na takes four-and-a-half hours. . . .

 

Discussion

4 comments for “FTR #1104 Fascism, 2019 World Tour, Part 14: Lithium Coup in Bolivia, Part 1 and FTR #1105 Fascism, 2019 World Tour, Part 15: Lithium Coup in Bolivia, Part 2”

  1. Eduar­do Rozsa Flo­res a bizarre CV to say the least. Please note, the assas­si­na­tion attempt on Morales in 2009 was timed to coin­cide *exact­ly* with Oba­ma’s “his­toric” meet­ing with Hugo Chavez in Trinidad. Dur­ing that meet­ing Chavez gave Oba­ma a copy of Eduar­do Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin Amer­i­ca.” Of course, the POTUS had­n’t ever cracked it open.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/30271562/ns/world_news-americas/t/chavez-obama-i-want-be-your-friend/#.XhBG0eiIa2c

    Eduar­do Rózsa-Flo­res (March 31, 1960 – April 16, 2009) was a Boli­vian-Hun­gar­i­an sol­dier, jour­nal­ist, actor, secret agent, mer­ce­nary poet and self pub­li­cist. Born in San­ta Cruz de la Sier­ra, Bolivia, he was known in Hun­gary as Rózsa-Flo­res Eduar­do or Rózsa Györ­gy Eduar­do. His wartime nick­name in the War in Croa­t­ia was Chico, which is also the title of a fea­ture film about him. He was a found­ing mem­ber of the Hun­gar­i­an Jew­ish Cul­tur­al Asso­ci­a­tion, an Opus Dei mem­ber, the edi­tor of the neo-fascist[1][2] Jobbik.net and Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Hun­gar­i­an Islam­ic Com­mu­ni­ty. [3]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduardo_R%C3%B3zsa-Flores

    Attempts to under­stand how Mr Dwyer met the men he died with have thrown light on a shad­owy Hun­gar­i­an nation­al­ist group called the Szek­ler Legion, which wants auton­o­my for the large Hun­gar­i­an minor­i­ty in Roma­ni­a’s Tran­syl­va­nia region. Mr Flo­res post­ed anti-Morales tirades on a web­site linked to the legion and is thought to have trained with them. The third man killed in San­ta Cruz, Arpad Mag­yarosi, also had links to the group. At least one mem­ber of the legion is thought to have worked for the same secu­ri­ty firm as Mr Dwyer in Ire­land.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-irishman-and-the-plot-to-kill-the-bolivian-president-1674009.html

    Oba­ma Meets Chavez: April 17, 2009

    Fas­cist Group Worked as Shell Guards

    http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2009/05/05/fascist-group-worked-as-shell-guards/

    And it gets even stranger...

    Szek­ler Legion: Tran­syl­van­ian Sep­a­ratist Group

    Peo­ple who knew Mr Dwyer con­firmed that he went to Bolivia last Novem­ber for a body­guard train­ing course with two Hun­gar­i­ans. When the course failed to take place, they returned to Ire­land but Mr Dwyer stayed on, and told his father he was work­ing as a body­guard for “some wealthy guy he met out there”.

    Attempts to under­stand how Mr Dwyer met the men he died with have thrown light on a shad­owy Hun­gar­i­an nation­al­ist group called the Szek­ler Legion, which wants auton­o­my for the large Hun­gar­i­an minor­i­ty in Roma­ni­a’s Tran­syl­va­nia region. Mr Flo­res post­ed anti-Morales tirades on a web­site linked to the legion and is thought to have trained with them. The third man killed in San­ta Cruz, Arpad Mag­yarosi, also had links to the group. At least one mem­ber of the legion is thought to have worked for the same secu­ri­ty firm as Mr Dwyer in Ire­land.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-irishman-and-the-plot-to-kill-the-bolivian-president-1674009.html

    A relat­ed top­ic from around that time in the San­ta Cruz region of Bolivia:

    https://ce399.typepad.com/weblog/2008/09/ronald-larsen-racist-anti-indigenous-secessionist-us-rancher-in-bolivia.html

    Ronald Larsen: Racist, Anti-Indige­nous, Seces­sion­ist U.S. Ranch­er in Bolivia

    In his native Mon­tana, Ronald Larsen’s cur­rent legal straits might be the stuff of an old-fash­ioned West­ern movie: A cat­tle ranch­er who believes the gov­ern­ment and its allies are unfair­ly try­ing to seize his land, and picks up a rifle to sig­nal his dis­plea­sure. But in con­tem­po­rary Bolivia, where Larsen makes his home, his recent clash with the author­i­ties is but anoth­er instance of ris­ing ten­sion over land-own­er­ship between, on the one hand, left-wing Pres­i­dent Evo Morales and his sup­port­ers among Bolivi­a’s indige­nous pop­u­la­tion, and on the oth­er, polit­i­cal oppo­nents backed by the coun­try’s wealthy east­ern elite.

    “A small group of ranch­ers is pre­vent­ing us from car­ry­ing out right­ful land reform in the east­ern region of San­ta Cruz,” says Bolivi­a’s Vice Min­is­ter of Land, Ale­jan­dro Almaraz, who accus­es Larsen of attack­ing his con­voy this spring. “U.S.-born Ronald Larsen is lead­ing this vio­lent resis­tance.” But crit­ics counter that Morales is hyp­ing the case to build sup­port ahead of Sun­day’s ref­er­en­dum in San­ta Cruz, where oppo­si­tion par­ties are press­ing for auton­o­my from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment — and ahead of a con­sti­tu­tion­al ref­er­en­dum lat­er this year on changes that include cap­ping the amount of land that can be owned by a sin­gle indi­vid­ual in Bolivia.

    Both the auton­o­my and land-reform issues have sparked vio­lent unrest over the past year, pit­ting the large­ly white farm­ers and ranch­ers of Bolivi­a’s more afflu­ent low­land east against the impov­er­ished indige­nous major­i­ty who back Morales, him­self an Aymara Indi­an and the nation’s first indige­nous Pres­i­dent. Lit­tle sur­prise, then, that a nation­al furor has erupt­ed over a con­fronta­tion involv­ing gov­ern­ment offi­cials and Larsen, 64, who along with his two sons, owns 17 prop­er­ties total­ing 141,000 acres through­out Bolivia, three times as much land as the coun­try’s largest city. (Larsen insists his hold­ings amount to less than 25,000 acres.)

    Last month, when Almaraz and aides tried to pass through Larsen’s San­ta Cruz prop­er­ty — they insist it was the only route by which to reach to near­by indige­nous Guarani res­i­dents to whom they were deliv­er­ing land deeds — wit­ness­es say the car­a­van was fired on by Larsen and his son Dus­ton, 29. The inci­dent was fol­lowed by two weeks of ranch­er road­blocks and vio­lent protests that left 40 indige­nous peo­ple injured.

    Larsen, who arrived in Bolivia in 1968, told a La Paz news­pa­per that Almaraz’s vehi­cle had entered his prop­er­ty at around 3 a.m. Almaraz, he said, “had not pre­sent­ed any iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. He was drunk and being abu­sive ... I qui­et­ed him with a bul­let to his tire. That’s the sto­ry.” But the gov­ern­ment insists this was­n’t Larsen’s first run-in with Almaraz: the ranch­er is accused of kid­nap­ping the vice min­is­ter for eight hours in Feb­ru­ary. The two alleged inci­dents prompt­ed the gov­ern­ment to file a crim­i­nal com­plaint of “sedi­tion, rob­bery and oth­er crimes” against Larsen and his son two weeks ago. Pros­e­cu­tors have yet to decide whether to press for­mal charges. Nei­ther father nor son has respond­ed pub­licly to the accu­sa­tions, and nei­ther respond­ed to repeat­ed requests by TIME for com­ment.

    U.S.-educated Dus­ton Larsen, refer­ring to Morales’ efforts to empow­er Bolivi­a’s indige­nous, wrote on his MySpace page in 2007, “I used to think democ­ra­cy was the best form to gov­ern a coun­try but ... should a larg­er more une­d­u­cat­ed group of peo­ple (70%) be in charge of mak­ing deci­sions, run­ning a coun­try and vot­ing?” The fact that Dus­ton, in 2004, won the Mr. Bolivia beau­ty pageant, in the eyes of many gov­ern­ment sup­port­ers, puts him in the com­pa­ny of the coun­try’s Euro­pean-ori­ent­ed elite. (That same year, Miss Bolivia, Gabriela Oviedo, also from the coun­try’s east, sug­gest­ed Bolivia should­n’t be con­sid­ered an indige­nous nation: “I’m from the oth­er side of the coun­try. We are tall, and we are white peo­ple, and we know Eng­lish.”) Morales back­ers say it is pre­cise­ly this dis­dain for the indige­nous that is dri­ving what they call the seces­sion­ist agen­da behind Sun­day’s auton­o­my ref­er­en­dum — which is not legal­ly sanc­tioned by the Nation­al Elec­toral Court or rec­og­nized by the Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States. But auton­o­my sup­port­ers say they’re only seek­ing states’ rights on ques­tions such as tax­a­tion, police and pub­lic works. “This is a his­toric demand based on long-stand­ing dif­fer­ences with a La Paz-based cen­tral gov­ern­ment,” says Edil­ber­to Osi­na­ga, man­ag­ing direc­tor of the Cham­ber of East­ern Farm­ers.

    Auton­o­my is favored by more than the two-thirds of San­ta Cruz vot­ers need­ed to pass, accord­ing to polls, and Gov­er­nor Ruben Costas, a staunch Morales oppo­nent, said recent­ly that it would “give birth to a new repub­lic.” He has since denied that he implied a sep­a­ratist move­ment for San­ta Cruz or the oth­er three east­ern states: Beni, Pan­do and Tar­i­ja, which will hold sim­i­lar votes this sum­mer. But crit­ics say the remark betrayed an under­ly­ing goal of the coun­try’s east­ern elite: gain­ing total con­trol over Bolivi­a’s vast nat­ur­al gas reserves and its most fer­tile land.

    Con­flict over land is also at the heart of the clash over a new draft con­sti­tu­tion restrict­ing an indi­vid­u­al’s land hold­ings to just under 25,000 acres — a pro­found chal­lenge to the own­er­ship pat­tern in a coun­try where 10% of the pop­u­la­tion con­trols more than 90% of arable land. “This is an extreme­ly prob­lem­at­ic pro­pos­al,” says Osi­na­ga. “You impose those kinds of lim­its and watch how fast the econ­o­my crum­bles and pover­ty grows.”

    Under its cur­rent land reform pro­gram, the Morales gov­ern­ment has already giv­en land­less Boli­vians deeds to 25 mil­lion acres (10 mil­lion hectares). Some ana­lysts sug­gest that stag­ing the auton­o­my ref­er­en­dums is sim­ply a polit­i­cal device to give the east­ern­ers greater lever­age in press­ing Morales to rene­go­ti­ate con­sti­tu­tion­al changes. Oth­ers fear the ris­ing ten­sion points to that clas­sic West­ern movie res­o­lu­tion: a vio­lent show­down.

    US Ranch­er in Bolivia Show­down

    Jean Fried­man-Rudovsky/La Paz
    Time Mag­a­zine
    02 May 2008

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1737244,00.html?loomia_si=t0:a3:g2:r1:c0.127237

    Posted by Jim | January 3, 2020, 10:12 pm
  2. The assas­si­na­tion of Iran­ian QUDS Force Gen­er­al Qassem Suleimani will lead to con­flict in the mid­dle east and may affect pro­duc­tion and trans­porta­tion of oil, which will most like­ly raise oil prices sig­nif­i­cant­ly A crit­i­cal ques­tion is who will ben­e­fit from this?

    Answers:
    1. Oil com­pa­nies in non-mid­dle east­ern loca­tions or who rely on mid­dle east­ern ship­ping, and
    2. Elec­tric car man­u­fac­tur­ers.

    Volk­swa­gen stands to ben­e­fit oil price increas­es this because they made a risky gam­ble to invest a whop­ping $33 Bil­lion to elec­tri­fy their fleet in the next 4 years. They were “bet­ting big on elec­tric vehi­cles over the next decade with­out know­ing how much con­sumers will want them.” Europe and Chi­na, where elec­tric-vehi­cle adop­tion rates are high­er than in the US due to gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies and reg­u­la­tions. Volk­swa­gen has an agree­ment with Ford to sell its MEB plat­form, allow­ing Volk­swa­gen to spread its devel­op­ment costs over an even larg­er num­ber of units. Coor­di­nat­ing the pur­chase of bat­ter­ies between brands should, pre­sum­ably, give Volk­swa­gen more nego­ti­at­ing lever­age than if each brand bought bat­ter­ies alone, cre­at­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to secure bulk dis­counts. There are ques­tions about how much EV demand will grow due to con­cerns over trav­el range between charges, vehi­cle price, and the avail­abil­i­ty and speed of charg­ing sta­tions which make the inter­nal-com­bus­tion engine a more prac­ti­cal pur­chase for many cus­tomers. Only Tes­la has been able to sell elec­tric vehi­cles for rea­sons oth­er than their envi­ron­men­tal friend­li­ness, Ram­sey added. Like Tes­la, Volk­swa­gen seeks to even­tu­al­ly turn elec­tric vehi­cles into mass-mar­ket prod­ucts. But even Chi­na might not be able to induce enough demand for them if its cit­i­zens aren’t inter­est­ed in them. How­ev­er if oil prices go up sig­nif­i­cant­ly the demand for such vehi­cles are sure to change.

    Volk­swa­gen, recent­ly announced that it had reached an agree­ment with North­volt, a Swedish elec­tric com­po­nent man­u­fac­tur­er, to build a bat­tery fac­to­ry in Ger­many. The Ger­man automak­er hopes to sur­pass rivals such as Tes­la and War­ren Buf­fet-backed BYD in Chi­na. Lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies, most of which are cur­rent­ly pro­duced in Chi­na, are an inte­gral part of Volkswagen’s elec­tri­fi­ca­tion strat­e­gy. Bat­ter­ies com­prise about a third of the cost of elec­tric cars, accord­ing to con­sult­ing firm Wood Macken­zie. Chi­na has 70% of the glob­al lithi­um cell man­u­fac­tur­ing capac­i­ty, while the USA has 12%, Europe cur­rent­ly accounts for only 3% of glob­al pro­duc­tion capac­i­ty of elec­tric vehi­cle bat­ter­ies. The Volk­swa­gen-North­volt deal, which would stim­u­late the indus­try, is a “very sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment for the future of Euro­pean bat­tery pro­duc­tion”.

    Volk­swa­gen says it’ll build 1M elec­tric cars by 2023
    The Ger­man brand orig­i­nal­ly plot­ted 2025 as the date it would reach the mile­stone.
    Sean Szymkows­ki CNET
    Jan­u­ary 3, 2020 9:22 AM PST

    This year marks a tran­si­tion­al one for Volk­swa­gen. The Ger­man brand will launch its first elec­tric car in the ID 3 hatch­back and show the pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the ID Crozz elec­tric SUV — the first EV from VW meant for the US.

    With all of this big news, VW declared it plans to reach a major mile­stone ear­li­er than once antic­i­pat­ed. On Thurs­day, the com­pa­ny said it plans to pro­duce 1 mil­lion elec­tric cars come 2023. Orig­i­nal­ly, VW thought it would­n’t hap­pen until 2025, but revised fore­casts and tar­gets now peg it to hap­pen two years ear­li­er.

    All the while, VW Group, Volk­swa­gen’s par­ent automak­er, will be invest­ing almost $37 bil­lion at cur­rent exchange rates to lead the EV sec­tor. Just over $12 bil­lion will be spent at the VW brand.

    All of this leads to a total of 1.5 mil­lion elec­tric cars planned by 2025, an increase of 500,000 cars, and VW still promis­es to make its EVs attain­able.

    EV pro­duc­tion will large­ly take place at the com­pa­ny’s Zwick­au fac­to­ry in Ger­many, though VW is gear­ing up for pro­duc­tion else­where. The brand’s elec­tric cars will roll out of a fac­to­ry in Chi­na, as well as the Chat­tanooga plant in Ten­nessee. VW will also build a bat­tery plant in Chat­tanooga.

    https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/volkswagen-electric-car-production-id3/

    Elec­tric vehi­cles are a tiny piece of the glob­al car mar­ket, but Volk­swa­gen is mak­ing a huge bet on them. It doesn’t have a choice.
    Mark Matousek Nov 8, 2019, 11:04 AM

    No automak­er that makes gas-pow­ered cars has announced elec­tric-vehi­cle invest­ment plans as ambi­tious as Volk­wa­gen’s.
    ¥ By 2023, Volk­swa­gen says it will spend over $30 bil­lion on elec­tric vehi­cles, a sum rough­ly equal to the com­pa­ny’s com­bined prof­its from 2015 through 2018. By 2030, Volk­swa­gen intends for elec­tric vehi­cles to com­prise 40% of its glob­al sales.
    ¥ For Volk­swa­gen’s tar­gets to be attain­able, demand for elec­tric vehi­cles will have to grow sig­nif­i­cant­ly from the first half of this year, when they account­ed for just under 2% of glob­al light-vehi­cle sales.
    ¥ Volk­swa­gen does­n’t have much of a choice in decid­ing whether or not it wants to invest in elec­tric vehi­cles due to tight­en­ing reg­u­la­tions and the after­math of its Diesel­gate scan­dal.
    ¥ But the com­pa­ny’s size could increase the upside and lim­it the down­side of its ambi­tious elec­tric-vehi­cle strat­e­gy.

    In 2006, Volk­swa­gen took a risk. The automak­er installed soft­ware on diesel-pow­ered vehi­cles that would help them pass gov­ern­ment emis­sions tests con­duct­ed in a lab, then allow the vehi­cles to pro­duce high­er emis­sions out­side of the lab. That deci­sion back­fired spec­tac­u­lar­ly, cost­ing the com­pa­ny bil­lions in fines and recalls and dam­ag­ing its rep­u­ta­tion. 

    Now, Volk­swa­gen is tak­ing a more vir­tu­ous risk: bet­ting big on elec­tric vehi­cles over the next decade with­out know­ing how much con­sumers will want them.

    The auto indus­try is head­ed toward what could be its most trans­for­ma­tive peri­od in the past cen­tu­ry, as elec­tric vehi­cles appear set to even­tu­al­ly replace their gas-pow­ered coun­ter­parts and self-dri­ving tech­nol­o­gy has the poten­tial to one day elim­i­nate the need for steer­ing wheels.

    Volk­swa­gen’s peers are also mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant invest­ments in future-ori­ent­ed tech­nol­o­gy, but when it comes to elec­tric vehi­cles, no automak­er that makes gas-pow­ered cars has matched Volk­wa­gen’s ambi­tions.

    “Nobody has announced a more aggres­sive spend­ing plan than they have,” said Michael Ram­sey, an ana­lyst at Gart­ner.

    Volk­swa­gen does­n’t have much of a choice
    By 2023, Volk­swa­gen says it will invest over $30 bil­lion in elec­tric vehi­cles, a sum rough­ly equal to the com­pa­ny’s com­bined prof­its from 2015 through 2018. By 2030, Volk­swa­gen intends for elec­tric vehi­cles to com­prise 40% of its glob­al sales. No automak­er aside from Tes­la is even remote­ly close to a quar­ter of that num­ber today.

    For Volk­swa­gen’s tar­gets to be attain­able, demand for elec­tric vehi­cles will have to grow sig­nif­i­cant­ly from the first half of this year, when they account­ed for just under 2% of glob­al light-vehi­cle sales (not includ­ing plug-in hybrids).

    To some degree, Volk­swa­gen does­n’t have much of a choice in decid­ing whether or not it wants to invest in elec­tric vehi­cles. Tight­en­ing reg­u­la­tions in Europe mean it would be very expen­sive for Volk­swa­gen to do noth­ing, said Richard Hilgert, an equi­ty ana­lyst for Morn­ingstar. The com­pa­ny would pay around $10 bil­lion in fines every year start­ing in 2021 if the emis­sions pro­duced by its prod­uct mix remained at 2018 lev­els, Hilgert wrote in a Sep­tem­ber report.

    And a 2016 set­tle­ment with the US gov­ern­ment relat­ed to Volk­swa­gen’s cheat­ing on emis­sions tests required the com­pa­ny to invest $2 bil­lion in elec­tric-vehi­cle charg­ing infra­struc­ture and pro­mote zero-emis­sions vehi­cles.

    But there are com­mer­cial rea­sons for Volk­swa­gen’s plans as well. The com­pa­ny sold more vehi­cles than any oth­er automak­er last year, and most of those sales came in Europe and Chi­na, where elec­tric-vehi­cle adop­tion rates are high­er than in the US due to gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies and reg­u­la­tions.

    Chi­na, “prob­a­bly more than almost any coun­try on the plan­et, can dic­tate what its cit­i­zens pur­chase,” said Karl Brauer, the exec­u­tive pub­lish­er at Cox Auto­mo­tive.
    And in Euro­pean coun­tries, there are non­po­lit­i­cal rea­sons, like their high pop­u­la­tion den­si­ties and a ten­den­cy among their cit­i­zens to care more about the envi­ron­ment, that give elec­tric vehi­cles a bet­ter chance of catch­ing on in the near-term than in the US, said Dan Edmunds, the direc­tor of vehi­cle test­ing at Edmunds.

    Volk­swa­gen does­n’t expect EVs to hurt prof­it mar­gins
    One of the biggest ques­tions the auto indus­try faces over the next decade is the extent to which invest­ments in elec­tric vehi­cles and autonomous-dri­ving tech­nol­o­gy will hurt prof­it mar­gins amid a poten­tial dip in sales of gas-pow­ered vehi­cles. Auto com­pa­nies already earn thin mar­gins due in part to the high costs of man­u­fac­tur­ing; retrain­ing employ­ees and con­vert­ing fac­to­ries designed for gas-pow­ered vehi­cles to pro­duce elec­tric ones won’t help, at least in the near-term.

    As one of the world’s largest automak­ers, Volk­swa­gen’s size could give it a head start in estab­lish­ing economies of scale for elec­tric vehi­cles, Ram­sey said, but a big invest­ment alone won’t be enough to seize mar­ket share in an indus­try where com­peti­tors fight over frac­tions of a per­cent­age point.
    “Just because you’re first, does­n’t mean you’re going to win,” said Rebec­ca Lind­land, the founder of the web­site Rebeccadrives.com and a for­mer ana­lyst for Kel­ley Blue Book.

    To build a more last­ing com­pet­i­tive advan­tage in the tran­si­tion to elec­tric vehi­cles, Volk­swa­gen will need a block­buster prod­uct, Ram­sey said. The com­pa­ny has had a few in its his­to­ry, like the Bee­tle and Golf, and it hopes the ID.3 hatch­back will become the elec­tric ver­sion of those era-defin­ing vehi­cles. Set for release next year, the ID.3 will start at under $34,000 and have a range between around 200 and 340 miles (based on Euro­pean test­ing stan­dards, which tend to be more gen­er­ous than in the US).

    Volk­swa­gen CEO Her­bert Diess said in Octo­ber that he does­n’t expect elec­tric vehi­cles to hurt the com­pa­ny’s prof­it mar­gins due to the ded­i­cat­ed plat­form it has designed for use in a wide range of mod­els and its shar­ing of bat­tery sup­pli­ers between its twelve brands.

    While requir­ing an upfront invest­ment, that plat­form, called “MEB,” should low­er devel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion costs in the future, because mod­els will share parts and a basic archi­tec­ture. Volk­swa­gen has an agree­ment with Ford to sell its MEB plat­form, allow­ing Volk­swa­gen to spread its devel­op­ment costs over an even larg­er num­ber of units. Coor­di­nat­ing the pur­chase of bat­ter­ies between brands should, pre­sum­ably, give Volk­swa­gen more nego­ti­at­ing lever­age than if each brand bought bat­ter­ies alone, cre­at­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to secure bulk dis­counts.

    Bryan Logan/Business Insid­er
    There are ques­tions about how much EV demand will grow
    But it’s not entire­ly clear if cus­tomers will want elec­tric vehi­cles enough to sup­port Volk­swa­gen’s sales goals due to con­cerns over range, price, and the avail­abil­i­ty and speed of charg­ing sta­tions.
     
    “It’s hard to imag­ine, in my view, a big shift to elec­tri­fi­ca­tion until we see bet­ter par­i­ty with an inter­nal-com­bus­tion engine in a lot of dif­fer­ent areas,” Ram­sey said.

    So far, only Tes­la has been able to sell elec­tric vehi­cles for rea­sons oth­er than their envi­ron­men­tal friend­li­ness, Ram­sey added. Like Tes­la, Volk­swa­gen seeks to even­tu­al­ly turn elec­tric vehi­cles into mass-mar­ket prod­ucts. But even Chi­na might not be able to induce enough demand for them if its cit­i­zens aren’t inter­est­ed in them, Brauer said.

    Volk­swa­gen’s size will lim­it the down­side in a sce­nario where demand does not rise as fast as expect­ed. Unlike a start­up like NIO, which has strug­gled to estab­lish steady sales growth, Volk­swa­gen has enough engi­neers to work on mul­ti­ple kinds of vehi­cles at the same time, Ram­sey said, so unex­pect­ed­ly soft demand for elec­tric vehi­cles won’t put the com­pa­ny out of busi­ness.

    And Volk­swa­gen does not appear to be in a sit­u­a­tion sim­i­lar to the one Gen­er­al Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler faced in the years lead­ing up to the finan­cial cri­sis of 2007 and 2008, Brauer said, when ris­ing fuel prices hurt demand for the SUVs and pick­up trucks they have become increas­ing­ly reliant upon for their prof­its and helped pushed them to or near bank­rupt­cy. Volk­swa­gen can always shift its focus back to gas-pow­ered cars.

    If Tes­la had to bet its con­tin­ued exis­tence on its first mass-mar­ket vehi­cle, the Mod­el 3 sedan, Volk­swa­gen’s elec­tric-vehi­cle invest­ment plans are not so per­ilous. In fact, the down­side of not being pre­pared for the even­tu­al tran­si­tion away from gas-pow­ered vehi­cles may be greater than the risk of being over­pre­pared.

    “I think that their thought process is, look, if we don’t do this at all and we keep build­ing what we have and then, all of a sud­den, fuel prices rise dra­mat­i­cal­ly or the Euro­pean Union won’t let us sell our vehi­cles, that’s a down­side risk we can­not afford,” Ram­sey said.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/vw-making-huge-bet-on-electric-vehicles-in-next-decade-2019–11

    Here’s what Volk­swa­gen Group’s future elec­tri­fi­ca­tion strat­e­gy looks like
    Sep­tem­ber 19, 2019
    Mark Lugris

    Volk­swa­gen is hop­ing to be a major play­er in the auto industry’s elec­tric future
    The world’s biggest automak­er, Volk­swa­gen, recent­ly announced that it had reached an agree­ment with North­volt, a Swedish elec­tric com­po­nent man­u­fac­tur­er, to build a bat­tery fac­to­ry in Ger­many. The automak­er also con­firmed pro­duc­tion dates for two new VW mod­els.

    Pro­duc­tion of lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies will like­ly begin in late 2023 or ear­ly 2024, which would allow Volk­swa­gen to mount “the largest elec­tric offen­sive in the auto­mo­tive indus­try world­wide”. In the next decade, the Volk­swa­gen Group is pro­ject­ed to intro­duce approx­i­mate­ly 70 new elec­tric mod­els and assem­ble 22 mil­lion elec­tric vehi­cles. It will invest more than US$33 bil­lion into elec­tri­fy­ing its fleet over the next four years in response to pres­sure from reg­u­la­tors and the back­lash from its diesel emis­sions scan­dal.

    The Ger­man automak­er hopes to sur­pass rivals such as Tes­la and War­ren Buf­fet-backed BYD in Chi­na. Lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies, most of which are cur­rent­ly pro­duced in Chi­na, are an inte­gral part of Volkswagen’s elec­tri­fi­ca­tion strat­e­gy. Bat­ter­ies com­prise about a third of the cost of elec­tric cars, accord­ing to con­sult­ing firm Wood Macken­zie.

    Chi­na has 70% of the glob­al lithi­um cell man­u­fac­tur­ing capac­i­ty, while the USA has 12%, said Simone Tagli­api­etra, a cli­mate and ener­gy fel­low at Bruegel, the Euro­pean eco­nom­ic think tank. Mean­while, Europe only accounts for 3% of glob­al pro­duc­tion capac­i­ty, accord­ing to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Volk­swa­gen-North­volt deal, which would stim­u­late the indus­try, is a “very sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment for the future of Euro­pean bat­tery pro­duc­tion”, Tagli­api­etra told CNN Busi­ness.

    Volk­swa­gen will invest US$993 mil­lion into the North­volt joint ven­ture with part of the mon­ey going into the Ger­man fac­to­ry, while the rest will pro­vide Volk­swa­gen a 20% stake in North­volt and a seat on its super­vi­so­ry board.

    Volk­swa­gen has stat­ed that pro­duc­tion of the new ID.3 elec­tric car series will begin in Novem­ber, with the first units deliv­ered to buy­ers next year. The lim­it­ed edi­tion of the ID.3, which made its debut on 9 Sep­tem­ber at the Frank­furt Motor Show, is already sold out. An elec­tric ver­sion of the vin­tage Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle, devel­oped by a part­ner com­pa­ny eClas­sics using com­po­nents from the new VW e‑up! city car, also pre­miered in Frank­furt. In addi­tion, Porsche, a Volk­swa­gen pre­mi­um brand, began pro­duc­ing its first all-elec­tric sports car – the Tay­can – on 9 Sep­tem­ber.

    Volk­swa­gen will invest near­ly US$1.5 bil­lion into revamp­ing its Zwick­au man­u­fac­tur­ing plant, which pre­vi­ous­ly pro­duced inter­nal com­bus­tion engines so that it can man­u­fac­ture elec­tric vehi­cles. The over­haul began in 2018 and will be com­plet­ed by 2020. By 2021, the plant is pro­ject­ed to pro­duce 330,000 cars per year, mak­ing it Europe’s “largest and most effi­cient elec­tric vehi­cle plant”, accord­ing to Volk­swa­gen. The ID.3 will be the first car assem­bled on this new mod­u­lar elec­tric-car pro­duc­tion plat­form or MEB. In the next three years, pro­duc­tion of 33 VW mod­els will begin on the MEB.

    E‑Waste World Con­fer­ence & Expo will take place from Thurs­day 14 Novem­ber to Fri­day 15 Novem­ber at the Kap Europa, Frank­furt Messe, Ger­many. To reg­is­ter for this high­ly focused, solu­tions-dri­ven event, please click here. For spon­sor­ship and exhi­bi­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties, please email peter@trans-globalevents.com

    https://www.ewaste-expo.com/heres-what-volkswagen-groups-future-electrification-strategy-looks-like/

    SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSFEBRUARY 6, 2019 / 2:04 AM / A YEAR AGO
    Bet every­thing on elec­tric: Inside Volk­swa­gen’s rad­i­cal strat­e­gy shift
    Edward Tay­lor, Jan Schwartz
    11 MIN READ
    ¥

    WOLFSBURG, Ger­many (Reuters) — If Volk­swa­gen real­izes its ambi­tion of becom­ing the glob­al leader in elec­tric cars, it will be thanks to a rad­i­cal and risky bet born out of the biggest calami­ty in its his­to­ry.

    The Ger­man giant has staked its future, to the tune of 80 bil­lion euros ($91 bil­lion), on being able to prof­itably mass-pro­duce elec­tric vehi­cles — a feat no car­mak­er has come close to achiev­ing.

    So far main­stream automak­ers’ elec­tric plans have had one main goal: to pro­tect prof­its gleaned from high-mar­gin con­ven­tion­al cars by adding enough zero-emis­sion vehi­cles to their fleet to meet clean-air rules.

    Cus­tomers have mean­while large­ly shunned elec­tric vehi­cles because they are too expen­sive, can be incon­ve­nient to charge and lack range.

    The biggest strat­e­gy shift in Volkswagen’s 80 years has its roots in a week­end cri­sis meet­ing at the Rothe­hof guest­house in Wolfs­burg on Octo­ber 10, 2015, senior exec­u­tives told Reuters.

    At the meet­ing host­ed by then VW brand chief Her­bert Diess, nine top man­agers gath­ered on a cloudy Sat­ur­day after­noon to dis­cuss the way for­ward after reg­u­la­tors blew the whis­tle on the company’s emis­sions cheat­ing, a scan­dal that cost it more than 27 bil­lion euros in fines and taint­ed its name.

    “It was an intense dis­cus­sion, so was the real­iza­tion that this could be an oppor­tu­ni­ty, if we jump far enough,” said Juer­gen Stack­mann, VW brand’s board mem­ber for sales.

    “It was an ini­tial plan­ning ses­sion to do more than just play with the idea of elec­tric cars,” he told Reuters. “We asked our­selves: what is our vision for the future of the brand? Every­thing that you see today is con­nect­ed to this.”

    Just three days after the Rothe­hof meet­ing of the VW brand’s man­age­ment board, Volk­swa­gen announced plans to devel­op an elec­tric vehi­cle plat­form, code­named MEB, paving the way for mass pro­duc­tion of an afford­able elec­tric car.

    For months after the Volk­swa­gen scan­dal blew up in 2015, rival car­mak­ers treat­ed diesel-cheat­ing as a “VW issue”, accord­ing to indus­try experts. But reg­u­la­tors have since uncov­ered exces­sive emis­sions across the sec­tor and unleashed a clam­p­down that under­mines the busi­ness case for com­bus­tion engines, forc­ing a sec­tor-wide rethink.

    Now the “vil­lain” of diesel­gate is like­ly to become the largest pro­duc­er of elec­tric cars in the world in com­ing years, ana­lysts say, putting it in pole posi­tion to flood the mar­ket — should the demand mate­ri­al­ize.

    “Deci­sions to con­vert the Emden fac­to­ry (in Low­er Sax­ony) to build elec­tric cars, would nev­er have hap­pened with­out this Sat­ur­day meet­ing,” said Stack­mann, one of five senior VW exec­u­tives who spoke to Reuters.

    How­ev­er the full scale of VW’s ambi­tions were only revealed two months ago when it took the indus­try by sur­prise by pledg­ing to spend 80 bil­lion euros to devel­op elec­tric vehi­cles and buy bat­ter­ies, dwarf­ing the invest­ment of rivals.

    It plans to raise annu­al pro­duc­tion of elec­tric cars to 3 mil­lion by 2025, from 40,000 in 2018.

    STRATEGIC PERILS
    It’s a risky bet.

    With reg­u­la­tors and law­mak­ers, rather than cus­tomers, dic­tat­ing what kind of vehi­cles can hit the road, ana­lysts at Deloitte say the indus­try could pro­duce 14 mil­lion elec­tric cars for which there is no con­sumer demand.

    It’s also an all-or-noth­ing bet in the long run.
    VW, whose ID elec­tric car will hit show­rooms in 2020, has set a dead­line for end­ing mass pro­duc­tion of com­bus­tion engines. The final gen­er­a­tion of gaso­line and diesel engines will be devel­oped by 2026.

    Arndt Elling­horst, ana­lyst at Ever­core ISI, said bet­ting on elec­tric vehi­cles (EVs) could be risky because cus­tomers did not want to own cars depen­dent on street-charg­ing facil­i­ties.
    “What if peo­ple are still not ready to own EVs? Will adop­tion be the same in the U.S., Europe and Chi­na?” he said.

    But he added that EU and Chi­nese emis­sions reg­u­la­tions made elec­tric vehi­cle adop­tion inevitable and that being an ear­ly indus­try mover in that direc­tion offered a “pos­i­tive risk-reward”.

    Anoth­er by-prod­uct of diesel­gate that quick­ened VW’s elec­tric dri­ve, accord­ing to the senior exec­u­tives, was a purge of the company’s old guard, who became the focus of pub­lic and polit­i­cal anger.

    This empow­ered Diess, a new­com­er who had joined as VW brand boss short­ly before U.S. reg­u­la­tors exposed the carmaker’s emis­sion test cheat­ing.

    Diess, who joined from BMW where he helped pio­neer a ground-break­ing elec­tric vehi­cle, has since been appoint­ed CEO of Volk­swa­gen Group, a mul­ti-brand empire that includes Audi, Porsche, Bent­ley, Seat, Sko­da, Lam­borgh­i­ni and Ducati.
    Car­mak­ers have failed to mass-pro­duce elec­tric cars prof­itably large­ly because of the pro­hib­i­tive cost of bat­tery packs which make up between 30 per­cent and 50 per­cent of the cost of an elec­tric vehi­cle.

    A 500 km-range bat­tery costs around $20,000, com­pared with a gaso­line engine that costs around $5,000. Add to that anoth­er $2,000 for the elec­tric motor and invert­er, and the gap is even wider.

    Even elec­tric start-up Tesla’s cheap­est car, the Mod­el 3, is on sale in Ger­many at 55,400 euros, priced just below a base mod­el Porsche Macan, a com­pact SUV. In the Unit­ed States, Mod­el 3 prices start at $35,950.

    VW believes its scale will give it an edge to build an elec­tric vehi­cle cost­ing no more than its cur­rent Golf mod­el, about 20,000 euros, using its pro­cure­ment clout as the world’s largest car and truck mak­er to dri­ve down the cost.

    “We are Volk­swa­gen, a brand for the peo­ple. For elec­tric cars we need economies of scale. And VW, more than any oth­er car­mak­er, can take advan­tage of this,” a senior Volk­swa­gen exec­u­tive told Reuters, declin­ing to be named.

    The carmaker’s elec­tric-vehi­cle bud­get out­strips that of its clos­est com­peti­tor, Germany’s Daim­ler, which has com­mit­ted $42 bil­lion. Gen­er­al Motors, the No.1 U.S. automak­er, has said it plans to spend a com­bined $8 bil­lion on elec­tric and self-dri­ving vehi­cles.

    Renault-Nis­san-Mit­subishi said in late 2017 they would spend 10 bil­lion euros by 2022 on devel­op­ing elec­tric and autonomous cars.

    “On a 2025 view, we expect Volk­swa­gen to be the num­ber one elec­tric vehi­cles pro­duc­er glob­al­ly,” UBS ana­lyst Patrick Hum­mel said. “Tes­la is like­ly to remain a niche play­er.”

    STRICTER TESTING
    VW’s test cheat­ing using engine man­age­ment soft­ware — “defeat devices” — result­ed in the intro­duc­tion of tougher pol­lu­tion tests which revealed in 2016 and 2017 that emis­sions read­ings across the indus­try were up to 20 per­cent high­er under real-world dri­ving con­di­tions com­pared with lab con­di­tions.

    This has raised the bar on the auto sector’s efforts to cut emis­sions of car­bon diox­ide, blamed for caus­ing glob­al warm­ing.

    EU law­mak­ers in Decem­ber agreed a cut in car­bon diox­ide emis­sions from cars of 37.5 per­cent by 2030 com­pared with 2021 lev­els. This was after the Euro­pean Union forced a 40 per­cent cut in emis­sions between 2007 and 2021.

    “This goal is no longer reach­able using com­bus­tion engines alone,” Volk­mar Den­ner, chief exec­u­tive of Bosch, the world’s biggest auto sup­pli­er, said about the 2030 pro­pos­als.

    Every gram of exces­sive car­bon diox­ide pol­lu­tion will be penal­ized with a 95 euros fine from this year onwards.

    Strat­e­gy firm PA Con­sult­ing fore­casts VW will face a 1.4‑billion-euro penal­ty for over­step­ping aver­age lim­its in Europe by 2021, while Ford and Fiat-Chrysler face fines of 430 mil­lion euros and 700 mil­lion euros respec­tive­ly.

    Daim­ler, BMW, PSA, Maz­da and Hyundai will miss their 2021 aver­age emis­sions tar­gets, PA Con­sult­ing fore­casts. Toy­ota, Renault-Nis­san-Mit­subishi, Vol­vo, Hon­da and Jaguar Land Rover are on track to meet their goals.

    PA Consulting’s fore­casts were extrap­o­lat­ed using 2017 reg­is­tra­tion data for each pow­er­train type and con­sumer buy­ing trends, but do not include more recent sales trends.

    Ford, VW and BMW said they would meet their tar­gets because of a push to sell more hybrid and elec­tric cars in 2018. Daim­ler said it aimed to meet the tar­gets, PSA said it would respect the tar­gets while Fiat-Chrysler declined to com­ment. Maz­da had no imme­di­ate com­ment, while Hyundai did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    Car­mak­ers have strug­gled to low­er their aver­age fleet emis­sions because of a shift in cus­tomer taste toward heav­ier, big­ger SUVs (sports util­i­ty vehi­cles), which make it hard­er to main­tain the same lev­els of accel­er­a­tion and com­fort with­out increas­ing fuel con­sump­tion and pol­lu­tion.

    SUVs are now the most pop­u­lar vehi­cle cat­e­go­ry in Europe, com­mand­ing a mar­ket share of 34.6 per­cent, accord­ing to JATO Dynam­ics. Even Porsche, which makes light­weight sports­cars, relies on sports util­i­ty vehi­cles for 61 per­cent of sales.

    As the indus­try-wide scale of exces­sive emis­sions prompt­ed Brus­sels to push through tougher laws late last year, VW exec­u­tives con­clud­ed that pure­ly elec­tric cars were the most effi­cient way to meet car­bon diox­ide goals across its fleet.

    This was the point of no return, accord­ing to exec­u­tives, when the com­pa­ny made the final elec­tric invest­ment deci­sions and com­mit­ted to stay­ing the course it had plot­ted after diesel­gate. 

    “After eval­u­at­ing alter­na­tives, we opt­ed for elec­tro­mo­bil­i­ty,” chief oper­at­ing offi­cer Ralf Brand­staet­ter told Reuters about VW’s delib­er­a­tions in Novem­ber. 

    Addi­tion­al report­ing by Ilona Wis­senbach and Agniesz­ka Flak; Edit­ing by Pravin Char
    Our Standards:The Thom­son Reuters Trust Prin­ci­ples.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-volkswagen-electric-insight/bet-everything-on-electric-inside-volkswagens-radical-strategy-shift-idUSKCN1PV0K4

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-volkswagen-electric-insight/bet-everything-on-electric-inside-volkswagens-radical-strategy-shift-idUSKCN1PV0K4

    Posted by Mary Benton | January 5, 2020, 8:23 pm
  3. In addi­tion to ben­e­fi­cia­ries from high oil prices due to a war with Iran such as:
    1. Oil com­pa­nies in non-mid­dle east­ern loca­tions or who do not rely on mid­dle east­ern ship­ping, and
    2. Elec­tric car man­u­fac­tur­ers
    The oth­er ben­e­fi­cia­ries are:
    1. Coal Min­ing, coal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers and coal elec­tric­i­ty pro­duc­ers
    2. Nuclear min­ing, nuclear equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers and elec­tric­i­ty pro­duc­ers.
    2. Mil­i­tary and arms man­u­fac­tur­ers.
    3. Man­i­fac­tur­ers of elec­tric vehi­cle charg­ing sta­tions.

    Elec­tric vehi­cles need to be recharged and this increas­es demand for elec­tric­i­ty. I doubt that alter­na­tive ener­gy will fill this increased demand need.

    Posted by Mary Benton | January 15, 2020, 7:26 pm
  4. This is one of those ‘bet­ter late than never...but not much bet­ter’ rev­e­la­tions: The New York Times report­ed last week about a new analy­sis of the evi­dence used by the Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States (OAS) to declare there were elec­tion ‘irreg­u­lar­i­ties’ being waged by Evo Morales’s gov­ern­ment last fall, a charge that rapid­ly led to the suc­cess­ful coup that result­ed in a far right gov­ern­ment that con­tin­ues to hold pow­er and has yet to sched­ule new elec­tions.

    So what did this new analy­sis dis­cov­er about the OAS’s orig­i­nal analy­sis of Bolivi­a’s elec­tion? That it was com­plete garbage, of course. Specif­i­cal­ly, they found that they were unable to repro­duce the OAS’s find­ings unless they exclud­ed results from the man­u­al­ly processed, late-report­ing polling booths. And there’s no rea­son to exclude that data. So the OAS was using an incor­rect data set when they made those ini­tial claims for elec­tion irreg­u­lar­i­ties. And as the fol­low­ing Com­mon Dreams piece points out, these prob­lems with the OAS’s analy­sis were raised by the Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic and Pol­i­cy Research (CEPR) with­in 24 hours of the OAS rais­ing them but it was only now, when that ear­ly CEPR analy­sis has been repli­cat­ed by this new study, that these prob­lems with the orig­i­nal claims are being wide­ly report­ed in the main­stream press. As the CEPR notes, the OAS is con­tin­ued to stand by its bogus asser­tions for months and as we’ll see, it’s con­tin­u­ing to stand by its bogus analy­sis. And it’s only now, when it’s too late to mat­ter and the far right is thor­ough­ly in con­trol of Bolivia, that we’re see­ing a main­stream recog­ni­tion that Bolivia expe­ri­enced a pro­pa­gan­da-dri­ven far right coup foment­ed by the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty that con­tin­ues to enjoy that inter­na­tion­al sup­port:

    Com­mon Dreams

    ‘It Was—Then as Now—Clearly a Coup’: NYT Final­ly Gets Around to Report­ing OAS Fraud Elec­tion Claims in Bolivia Were Bogus
    “For those pay­ing close atten­tion to the 2019 elec­tion, there was nev­er any doubt that the OAS’ claims of fraud were bogus.”

    by Eoin Hig­gins, staff writer
    Pub­lished on
    Mon­day, June 08, 2020

    More than sev­en months after claims of fraud­u­lent elec­tions sparked an unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic coup that led to the ouster of Boli­vian Pres­i­dent Evo Morales, the New York Times late Sun­day report­ed on new research show­ing the U.S.-led Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States used flawed data and analy­sis to sup­port its wide­ly cit­ed con­tention the vot­ing was rigged.

    ...

    As Com­mon Dreams report­ed in Novem­ber, U.S. offi­cials cit­ed the OAS report on the elec­tion as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for back­ing the coup that deposed Morales, the left-wing Indige­nous for­mer pres­i­dent.

    Despite report­ing from the Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic and Pol­i­cy Research (CEPR) cast­ing doubt on those claims with­in 24 hours of the OAS mak­ing them, the Times only cov­ered the prob­lems with the U.S.-dominated orga­ni­za­tion’s analy­sis after a study (pdf) from three inde­pen­dent researchers found the same results.

    Nice to see the @nytimes, 8 months after the fact, rec­og­nize that @ceprdc was right about the @OAS_official bogus claims of an “inex­plic­a­ble” trend change in Bolivi­a’s 2019 elec­tion. It took us less than 24 hours to fig­ure it out though. https://t.co/Jt5g3Woxhp pic.twitter.com/CaM7MZgbQw— Jake John­ston (@JakobJohnston) June 7, 2020

    As the Times report­ed Mon­day:

    The authors of the new study said they were unable to repli­cate the O.A.S.‘s find­ings using its like­ly tech­niques. They said a sud­den change in the trend appeared only when they exclud­ed results from the man­u­al­ly processed, late-report­ing polling booths.

    This sug­gests that the orga­ni­za­tion used an incor­rect data set to reach its con­clu­sion, the researchers said. The dif­fer­ence is sig­nif­i­cant: the 1,500 exclud­ed late-report­ing booths account for the bulk of the final votes that the O.A.S. sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis claims are sus­pi­cious.

    In a state­ment, CEPR research asso­ciate Jake John­ston said that the OAS “con­tin­ued to repeat its false asser­tions for many months with lit­tle to no push­back or account­abil­i­ty” despite his orga­ni­za­tion’s find­ing to the con­trary.

    “For those pay­ing close atten­tion to the 2019 elec­tion, there was nev­er any doubt that the OAS’ claims of fraud were bogus,” said John­ston.

    Since the coup, the human rights sit­u­a­tion in the Latin Amer­i­can coun­try has gone from bad to worse as the gov­ern­ment of far-right inter­im pres­i­dent Jea­nine Áñez has rolled back reforms put in place by Morales, opened the coun­try’s resources to pri­vate exploita­tion, and delayed sched­uled elec­tions under the pre­text of pub­lic health due to the coro­n­avirus out­break.

    “The OAS bears respon­si­bil­i­ty for the sig­nif­i­cant dete­ri­o­ra­tion of the human rights sit­u­a­tion in Bolivia since Morales’ ouster,” said CEPR co-direc­tor Mark Weis­brot.

    Weis­brot warned that if the OAS and its lead­er­ship is “allowed to get away with such polit­i­cal­ly dri­ven fal­si­fi­ca­tion of their elec­toral obser­va­tion results again, this threat­ens not only Boli­vian democ­ra­cy but the democ­ra­cy of any coun­try where the OAS may be involved in elec­tions in the future.”

    ————

    “ ‘It Was—Then as Now—Clearly a Coup’: NYT Final­ly Gets Around to Report­ing OAS Fraud Elec­tion Claims in Bolivia Were Bogus” by Eoin Hig­gins; Com­mon Dreams; 06/08/2020

    “Since the coup, the human rights sit­u­a­tion in the Latin Amer­i­can coun­try has gone from bad to worse as the gov­ern­ment of far-right inter­im pres­i­dent Jea­nine Áñez has rolled back reforms put in place by Morales, opened the coun­try’s resources to pri­vate exploita­tion, and delayed sched­uled elec­tions under the pre­text of pub­lic health due to the coro­n­avirus out­break.”

    Note that Bolivi­a’s elec­toral tri­bunal recent­ly announced it set a Sep­tem­ber 6 elec­tion date that is sup­posed to be a repeat of the dis­put­ed elec­tion, although pre­sum­ably it will be a rerun with­out Morales on the bal­lot since the inter­im gov­ern­ment ruled in Novem­ber that he can’t run again. So we’ll see what types of future delays the inter­im gov­ern­ment demands. Or what kind of elec­tion irreg­u­lar­i­ties the OAS will dis­cov­er of Morale’s par­ty wins again. But what­ev­er those irreg­u­lar­i­ties hap­pen to be, we can be con­fi­dent the OAS will be allowed to repeat its claims for months with­out being chal­lenged even after groups point out the flaws in their analy­sis. Because that’s exact­ly what already hap­pened:

    ...
    Despite report­ing from the Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic and Pol­i­cy Research (CEPR) cast­ing doubt on those claims with­in 24 hours of the OAS mak­ing them, the Times only cov­ered the prob­lems with the U.S.-dominated orga­ni­za­tion’s analy­sis after a study (pdf) from three inde­pen­dent researchers found the same results.

    ...

    In a state­ment, CEPR research asso­ciate Jake John­ston said that the OAS “con­tin­ued to repeat its false asser­tions for many months with lit­tle to no push­back or account­abil­i­ty” despite his orga­ni­za­tion’s find­ing to the con­trary.
    ...

    Now here’s the New York Times piece on the the new study that includes state­ments from the OAS. As the arti­cle notes, the new analy­sis also con­cludes that the OAS used an inap­pro­pri­ate sta­tis­ti­cal method that arti­fi­cial­ly cre­at­ed the appear­ance of a break in the vot­ing trend for Morales. So it’s not just a mat­ter of using rigged data but also rigged method­olo­gies.

    And yet the OAS is stand­ing by its accu­sa­tions of vote fraud despite this analy­sis. How so? Well, as the OAS puts it, the sta­tis­ti­cal evi­dence that was dis­put­ed by this new analy­sis isn’t the evi­dence that the OAS relied on when mak­ing its assess­ment that there were elec­tion irreg­u­lar­i­ties because the vot­ing data com­ing out of Bolivia was so flawed to begin with there’s no way to say one way or anoth­er from the sta­tis­tics whether or not there were vot­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties. Instead, they argue, there was oth­er evi­dence like hid­den vot­ing IT infra­struc­ture and fal­si­fied state­ments from polls that are the actu­al evi­dence of irreg­u­lar­i­ties.

    In addi­tion, the O.A.S. con­sul­tant who con­duct­ed their sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis, Pro­fes­sor Irfan Noorud­din of George­town Uni­ver­si­ty, said the new study mis­rep­re­sent­ed his work and was wrong, although he will not pro­vide details and did not share his meth­ods or data with the authors of the study, despite repeat­ed requests. So this isn’t just a sto­ry about the OAS using garbage rigged analy­sis to jus­ti­fy a coup. It’s also a sto­ry about the OAS con­tin­u­ing to stand by that garbage rigged analy­sis as we head towards a rerun of that con­test­ed elec­tion. Hope­ful­ly. Assum­ing the far right inter­im gov­ern­ment ever actu­al­ly allows the rerun elec­tion to hap­pen:

    The New York Times

    A Bit­ter Elec­tion. Accu­sa­tions of Fraud. And Now Sec­ond Thoughts.
    A close look at Boli­vian elec­tion data sug­gests an ini­tial analy­sis by the O.A.S. that raised ques­tions of vote-rig­ging — and helped force out a pres­i­dent — was flawed.

    By Ana­toly Kur­manaev and Maria Sil­via Tri­go
    June 7, 2020

    The elec­tion was the most tight­ly con­test­ed in decades: Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first Indige­nous pres­i­dent, was run­ning for a fourth term, fac­ing an oppo­si­tion that saw him as author­i­tar­i­an and unwill­ing to relin­quish pow­er.

    As the pre­lim­i­nary vote count began, on Oct. 20, 2019, ten­sions ran high. When the tal­ly­ing stopped — sud­den­ly and with­out expla­na­tion — then resumed again a full day lat­er, it showed Mr. Morales had just enough votes to eke out a vic­to­ry.

    Amid sus­pi­cions of fraud, protests broke out across the coun­try, and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty turned to the Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States, which had been invit­ed to observe the elec­tions, for its assess­ment.

    The organization’s state­ment, which cit­ed “an inex­plic­a­ble change” that “dras­ti­cal­ly mod­i­fies the fate of the elec­tion,” height­ened doubts about the fair­ness of the vote and fueled a chain of events that changed the South Amer­i­can nation’s his­to­ry. The oppo­si­tion seized on the claim to esca­late protests, gath­er inter­na­tion­al sup­port, and push Mr. Morales from pow­er with mil­i­tary sup­port weeks lat­er.

    Now, a study by inde­pen­dent researchers, using data obtained by The New York Times from the Boli­vian elec­toral author­i­ties, has found that the Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States’ sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis was itself flawed.

    The con­clu­sion that Mr. Morales’s share of the vote jumped inex­plic­a­bly in the final bal­lots relied on incor­rect data and inap­pro­pri­ate sta­tis­ti­cal tech­niques, the researchers found.

    “We took a hard look at the O.A.S.’s sta­tis­ti­cal evi­dence and found prob­lems with their meth­ods,” said Fran­cis­co Rodríguez, an econ­o­mist who teach­es Latin Amer­i­can stud­ies at Tulane Uni­ver­si­ty. “Once we cor­rect those prob­lems, the O.A.S.’s results go away, leav­ing no sta­tis­ti­cal evi­dence of fraud.”

    Mr. Rodríguez con­duct­ed the study with Dorothy Kro­n­ick, an expert on Latin Amer­i­can pol­i­tics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia, and Nicolás Idrobo, a doc­tor­al stu­dent at the same uni­ver­si­ty who is the co-author of a text­book on advanced sta­tis­ti­cal meth­ods. Their study is a work­ing paper that has not yet been peer reviewed.

    To be sure, the authors said their analy­sis focused only on the O.A.S.’s sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis of the vot­ing results, and does not prove that the elec­tion was free and fair. In fact, there were a lot of doc­u­ment­ed prob­lems with the vote.

    In an attempt to quell the protests set off when he claimed vic­to­ry, Mr. Morales called on the O.A.S. to con­duct a “bind­ing” elec­tion audit.

    The result­ing 100-page report, pub­lished in Decem­ber, con­tained evi­dence of errors, irreg­u­lar­i­ties and “a series of mali­cious oper­a­tions” aimed at alter­ing the results. These includ­ed hid­den data servers, manip­u­lat­ed vot­ing receipts and forged sig­na­tures, which the orga­ni­za­tion said made it impos­si­ble for it to val­i­date the election’s results.

    The O.A.S. found evi­dence of tam­per­ing with at least 38,000 votes. Mr. Morales claimed out­right vic­to­ry by a mar­gin of 35,000 votes.

    “There was fraud — we just don’t know where and how much,” said Calla Hum­mel, a Bolivia expert at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mia­mi who wit­nessed the elec­tion and ana­lyzed the O.A.S.’s find­ings.

    “The issue with the O.A.S. report is that they did it very quick­ly,” Dr. Hum­mel said. That shaped the nar­ra­tive of the elec­tion before data could be prop­er­ly ana­lyzed, she said.

    That ini­tial claim by the O.A.S. is specif­i­cal­ly what the aca­d­e­mics are dis­put­ing in their study.

    Mr. Morales’s down­fall paved the way to a staunch­ly right-wing care­tak­er gov­ern­ment, led by Jea­nine Añez, which has not yet ful­filled its man­date to over­see swift new elec­tions. The new gov­ern­ment has per­se­cut­ed the for­mer president’s sup­port­ers, sti­fled dis­sent and worked to cement its hold on pow­er.

    ...

    The O.A.S. said it stood by its sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis, because it suc­cess­ful­ly detect­ed ear­ly ini­tial indi­ca­tions of fraud.

    “It’s a moot point,” the organization’s head of elec­toral obser­va­tions, Ger­ar­do De Icaza, said in response to ques­tions raised by the new study. “Sta­tis­tics don’t prove or dis­prove fraud. Hard evi­dence like fal­si­fied state­ments of polls and hid­den I.T. struc­tures do. And that is what we found.”

    The organization’s ini­tial accu­sa­tion came right after Bolivia’s most dis­put­ed elec­tions since the return of democ­ra­cy in the 1980s. To run for a fourth term, Mr. Morales sub­vert­ed laws, staffed the elec­toral coun­cil with loy­al­ists, and ignored results of a ref­er­en­dum that banned him from seek­ing re-elec­tion.

    Claim­ing the results of the Octo­ber elec­tion could not be trust­ed, some oppo­si­tion lead­ers said they would par­a­lyze the coun­try if Mr. Morales declared vic­to­ry.

    For their part, Mr. Morales’s large­ly Indige­nous sup­port­ers, fear­ing a return of the con­ser­v­a­tive politi­cians of Euro­pean descent who had been the rule in the coun­try before Mr. Morales took office in 2006, vowed to defend their polit­i­cal gains at all cost.

    The Unit­ed States State Depart­ment quick­ly react­ed to the O.A.S. state­ment, accus­ing elec­toral offi­cials of try­ing to “sub­vert Bolivia’s democ­ra­cy.” Car­los Mesa, the main oppo­si­tion can­di­date, and Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho, a prin­ci­pal leader of the protests, both cit­ed the organization’s claim to jus­ti­fy their calls for street action.

    “The O.A.S., as observers, rat­i­fied the doubts that all Boli­vians had and the wor­ry that their vote has been vio­lat­ed,” Mr. Cama­cho said in a video address on Oct. 22.

    As demon­stra­tions inten­si­fied in the fol­low­ing weeks, Mr. Morales start­ed to lose the sup­port of secu­ri­ty forces. A trick­le of gov­ern­ment defec­tions turned into a flood.

    A vis­i­bly hag­gard Mr. Morales went on nation­al tele­vi­sion to offer new elec­tions, but by then it was too late. The same day, the mil­i­tary asked Mr. Morales to stand down. He fled into exile soon after.

    “The O.A.S. end­ed up sink­ing any legit­i­ma­cy the vot­ing results might have had,” said Gon­za­lo Mendi­eta, a promi­nent Boli­vian colum­nist.

    In their audit of the elec­tions, the orga­ni­za­tion said it found a “high­ly unlike­ly trend in the last 5 per­cent of the count” that pushed Mr. Morales above the thresh­old for out­right vic­to­ry, with­out a runoff.

    The authors of the new study said they were unable to repli­cate the O.A.S.’s find­ings using its like­ly tech­niques. They said a sud­den change in the trend appeared only when they exclud­ed results from the man­u­al­ly processed, late-report­ing polling booths.

    This sug­gests that the orga­ni­za­tion used an incor­rect data set to reach its con­clu­sion, the researchers said. The dif­fer­ence is sig­nif­i­cant: the 1,500 exclud­ed late-report­ing booths account for the bulk of the final votes that the O.A.S. sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis claims are sus­pi­cious.

    Also, the aca­d­e­mics said the orga­ni­za­tion used an inap­pro­pri­ate sta­tis­ti­cal method that arti­fi­cial­ly cre­at­ed the appear­ance of a break in the vot­ing trend.

    The O.A.S. con­sul­tant who con­duct­ed their sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis, Pro­fes­sor Irfan Noorud­din of George­town Uni­ver­si­ty, said the new study mis­rep­re­sent­ed his work and was wrong. He did not pro­vide details and did not share his meth­ods or data with the authors of the study, despite repeat­ed requests.

    For his part, Mr. De Icaza, with the O.A.S., said that, broad­ly speak­ing, the data from Bolivia’s most recent elec­tions was too flawed to draw any mean­ing­ful con­clu­sions.

    “You’re are doing a sta­tis­ti­cal exer­cise on doc­u­ments that are fal­si­fied,” he said. “The ques­tion is not whether the false num­bers add up. The ques­tion is whether they are false or not — and they are.”

    ———–

    “A Bit­ter Elec­tion. Accu­sa­tions of Fraud. And Now Sec­ond Thoughts.” by Ana­toly Kur­manaev and Maria Sil­via Tri­go; The New York Times; 06/07/2020

    “The O.A.S. said it stood by its sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis, because it suc­cess­ful­ly detect­ed ear­ly ini­tial indi­ca­tions of fraud.”

    The OAS is stand­ing by its garbage sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis. Appar­ent­ly because that garbage analy­sis helped it detect all ini­tial indi­ca­tions of fraud like fal­si­fied state­ments of polls and hid­den I.T. struc­tures and since these non-sta­tis­ti­cal pieces of evi­dence of fraud haven’t been refut­ed by this new study and that’s why the OAS is stand­ing by its refut­ed sta­tis­ti­cal meth­ods. It’s an inter­est­ing case of cir­cu­lar rea­son­ing that, if any­thing, should raise seri­ous ques­tions about the valid­i­ty of those oth­er ini­tial indi­ca­tions of fraud:

    ...
    “It’s a moot point,” the organization’s head of elec­toral obser­va­tions, Ger­ar­do De Icaza, said in response to ques­tions raised by the new study. “Sta­tis­tics don’t prove or dis­prove fraud. Hard evi­dence like fal­si­fied state­ments of polls and hid­den I.T. struc­tures do. And that is what we found.”

    ...

    The Unit­ed States State Depart­ment quick­ly react­ed to the O.A.S. state­ment, accus­ing elec­toral offi­cials of try­ing to “sub­vert Bolivia’s democ­ra­cy.” Car­los Mesa, the main oppo­si­tion can­di­date, and Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho, a prin­ci­pal leader of the protests, both cit­ed the organization’s claim to jus­ti­fy their calls for street action.

    “The O.A.S., as observers, rat­i­fied the doubts that all Boli­vians had and the wor­ry that their vote has been vio­lat­ed,” Mr. Cama­cho said in a video address on Oct. 22.

    ...

    “The O.A.S. end­ed up sink­ing any legit­i­ma­cy the vot­ing results might have had,” said Gon­za­lo Mendi­eta, a promi­nent Boli­vian colum­nist.

    ...

    The O.A.S. con­sul­tant who con­duct­ed their sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis, Pro­fes­sor Irfan Noorud­din of George­town Uni­ver­si­ty, said the new study mis­rep­re­sent­ed his work and was wrong. He did not pro­vide details and did not share his meth­ods or data with the authors of the study, despite repeat­ed requests.

    For his part, Mr. De Icaza, with the O.A.S., said that, broad­ly speak­ing, the data from Bolivia’s most recent elec­tions was too flawed to draw any mean­ing­ful con­clu­sions.

    “You’re are doing a sta­tis­ti­cal exer­cise on doc­u­ments that are fal­si­fied,” he said. “The ques­tion is not whether the false num­bers add up. The ques­tion is whether they are false or not — and they are.”
    ...

    And note that these new analy­sis did­n’t just raise issues with the data set they the OAS used. They also found prob­lems with the sta­tis­ti­cal method. A method that arti­fi­cial­ly cre­at­ed the appear­ance of a break in the vot­ing trend:

    ...
    In their audit of the elec­tions, the orga­ni­za­tion said it found a “high­ly unlike­ly trend in the last 5 per­cent of the count” that pushed Mr. Morales above the thresh­old for out­right vic­to­ry, with­out a runoff.

    The authors of the new study said they were unable to repli­cate the O.A.S.’s find­ings using its like­ly tech­niques. They said a sud­den change in the trend appeared only when they exclud­ed results from the man­u­al­ly processed, late-report­ing polling booths.

    This sug­gests that the orga­ni­za­tion used an incor­rect data set to reach its con­clu­sion, the researchers said. The dif­fer­ence is sig­nif­i­cant: the 1,500 exclud­ed late-report­ing booths account for the bulk of the final votes that the O.A.S. sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis claims are sus­pi­cious.

    Also, the aca­d­e­mics said the orga­ni­za­tion used an inap­pro­pri­ate sta­tis­ti­cal method that arti­fi­cial­ly cre­at­ed the appear­ance of a break in the vot­ing trend.
    ...

    So the sta­tis­ti­cal meth­ods used by the OAS weren’t just flawed. They were fraud­u­lent. At least that’s the case if a method was used that was arti­fi­cial­ly cre­at­ing the appear­ance of a break in the vot­ing trend when it’s that alleged break in the vot­ing trend that was the basis for the OAS’s ini­tial claims of vot­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties. And that analy­sis is what the OAS is con­tin­u­ing to stand by in the face of this new study. We’ll see if those recent­ly sched­uled Sep­tem­ber elec­tions actu­al­ly hap­pen. But if they do, the OAS has mak­ing it abun­dant­ly clear that was should expect­ed plen­ty of flawed and rigged analy­ses about how the elec­tion was flawed and rigged. At least assum­ing the right-wing can­di­date that inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty clear­ly wants to see run­ning Bolivia does­n’t win. If they win every­thing will pre­sum­ably be just fine with the vote.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 15, 2020, 2:39 pm

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