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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. [6]

FTR #1105 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment. [7]

[8]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 [9].

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.

[10]

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 [11]and 27 [12].
  2. The Vat­i­can’s rela­tion­ship to fas­cism, includ­ing Opus Dei and the Ustachi in Croa­t­ia, is high­light­ed in, among oth­er pro­grams AFA #17 [11].
  3. Infor­ma­tion about the re-emer­gence of the Ustachi can be found in, among oth­er pro­grams, FTR #‘s 49 [13], 154 [14], 766 [15], 901 [16].

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 [17] 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 [18] grat­i­tude: ‘Thank you Colom­bia! Thank you Venezuela!’ he exclaimed, tip­ping his hat to Juan Guaido’s coup oper­a­tion [19]. 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 [20], and Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion [21]. 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 [22]. . . . Even the US embassy in Bolivia has described [23] 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 [24] 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 [25] 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 [26],’ pro­duced a rough back­ground pro­file [27] 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 [28], 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 [29], 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 [30] 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 [31], 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. [32], the son of the late Venezue­lan oli­garch and CIA asset Thor Halvorssen Hel­lum.  . . . . He launched the HRF with grants [32] 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” [33] 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 [34], essen­tial for the man­u­fac­ture of elec­tric car bat­ter­ies: ” . . . . The main tar­get is its mas­sive deposits of lithi­um, cru­cial for the elec­tric car. . . .”

[35]

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 [36] 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 [37] 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 [38] 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 [39] 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 [11]and 27 [12].
  2. The Vat­i­can’s rela­tion­ship to fas­cism, includ­ing Opus Dei and the Ustachi in Croa­t­ia, is high­light­ed in, among oth­er pro­grams AFA #17 [11].
  3. Infor­ma­tion about the re-emer­gence of the Ustachi can be found in, among oth­er pro­grams, FTR #‘s 49 [13], 154 [14], 766 [15], 901 [16].

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 [17] 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 [18] grat­i­tude: ‘Thank you Colom­bia! Thank you Venezuela!’ he exclaimed, tip­ping his hat to Juan Guaido’s coup oper­a­tion [19]. 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 [20], and Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion [21]. 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 [22]. . . . Even the US embassy in Bolivia has described [23] 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 [24] 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 [25] 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 [26],’ pro­duced a rough back­ground pro­file [27] 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 [40] 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 [28], 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 [29], 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 [30] 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 [31], 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. [32], the son of the late Venezue­lan oli­garch and CIA asset Thor Halvorssen Hel­lum.  . . . . He launched the HRF with grants [32] 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” [33] 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 [9]

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 [17] 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 [18] grat­i­tude: “Thank you Colom­bia! Thank you Venezuela!” he exclaimed, tip­ping his hat to Juan Guaido’s coup oper­a­tion [19]. 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 [41]:
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 [42] pic.twitter.com/XXNQfhD7ii [43] — The Gray­zone (@GrayzoneProject) Novem­ber 12, 2019 [44]
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 [45], 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 [46]. 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 [47] 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 [48] — Max Blu­men­thal (@MaxBlumenthal) Novem­ber 11, 2019 [49]
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 [50] 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 [51] 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 [52] 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 [53], 2019. For months, his tweets [54] 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 [55] on Twit­ter that got just over 20 views [56]. 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 [57], and CNN en Español. [58]
All of a sud­den, Camacho’s tweets call­ing for Morales to resign were light­ing up with thou­sands of retweets [59]. The coup machin­ery had been acti­vat­ed. Main­stream out­lets like the New York Times and Reuters fol­lowed by anoint­ing the unelect­ed Cama­cho as the “leader [60]” 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 [20], and Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion [21]. 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 [22].
Here is anoth­er video post­ed by Bolivia’s fas­cist oppo­si­tion San­ta Cruz Youth Union. Coup leader Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho @LuisFerCamachoV [61] pre­vi­ous­ly helped lead this sieg-heil­ing group. These are the peo­ple who over­threw elect­ed Pres­i­dent Evo Morales. https://t.co/gFMyfjsi2p [42] pic.twitter.com/GvvMfL21UZ [62] — The Gray­zone (@GrayzoneProject) Novem­ber 12, 2019 [63]
Even the US embassy in Bolivia has described [23] UJC mem­bers as “racist” and “mil­i­tant,” not­ing that they “have fre­quent­ly attacked pro-MAS/­gov­ern­ment peo­ple and instal­la­tions.” [see pic of US embassy doc­u­ment [64]] After jour­nal­ist Ben­jamin Dan­gl vis­it­ed with UJC mem­bers [65] 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 [66] — Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho (@LuisFerCamachoV) August 21, 2019 [67]
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 [24] 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 [25] 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 [40] 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 [68] 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 [69] 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 [70]” and insist­ing that God is on his side [71]. 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 [72], 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 [26],” pro­duced a rough back­ground pro­file [27] 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 [73] 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 [74], whose only com­plaint about Chilean dic­ta­tor Augus­to Pinochet was that he “didn’t kill enough [75].” Marinkovic is also a pub­lic admir­er of Venezuela’s far-right oppo­si­tion. “Todos somos Leopol­do [76]” — “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 [28], 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 [77] 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 [29], 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 [78], 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 [30] 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 [31], 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. [32], 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 [79] financed by a min­ing cor­po­ra­tion, Halvorssen rebrand­ed as a pro­mot­er of lib­er­al­ism and the ene­my of glob­al author­i­tar­i­an­ism. He launched the HRF with grants [32] 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 [80], 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 [81]. 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 [82], 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 [83] 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 [84], Guaido’s faux Venezue­lan OAS ambas­sador, who for­mer­ly worked at the right-wing Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies (CSIS) [85] think tank in Wash­ing­ton. After the meet­ing, Cama­cho tweet­ed grat­i­tude to the Venezue­lan coup-mon­gers, as well as to Colom­bia and Brazil [18].
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 [86] — Luis Fer­nan­do Cama­cho (@LuisFerCamachoV) August 27, 2019 [87]
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 [88] 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 [89], 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 [90] 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 [91]. After pre­sid­ing over [92] 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 [93] 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 [94] 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 [95]] Today, Mesa serves as an in-house “expert” [33] 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 [96] to oppo­si­tion groups includ­ing those “opposed to Evo Morales’ vision for indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.” Oth­er top fun­ders of the Dia­logue [97] 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. [34]

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 [98] 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 [99] 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 [99] 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 [100] 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 [36]

 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 [37]

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, [38] 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 [101], 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. [39]

. . . . 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 [102] 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 [103], 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 [104]: 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 [105].

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 [106]. 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 [107]. . . .