Former Bolivian president Evo Morales says he’ll return to the country by next Christmas, after “a coup” ousted him for “terrorism.” Morales stepped down as president on November 10 after nationwide protests against his re-election to a fourth term – in a poll widely denounced as rigged. The Organization of American States (OAS) audit of Bolivia’s disputed election in October has allegedly shown detailed, “deliberate” and “malicious” efforts to rig the vote in favor of the then-president.
Upon learning of Morales’s re-election on November 10, protestors in the capital’s main square shouted: “This is not Cuba or Venezuela. This is Bolivia and Bolivia is respected.” Bolivia’s first-ever indigenous president, Morales, resigned on Nov 10, initially was granted asylum in Mexico and eventually sought asylum in Argentina following an intervention by the chief of armed forces.
Elections to be held
Morales had confidently predicted a victory for his Movement for Socialism (MAS) party in Bolivia’s upcoming elections in March 2020 and he also wishes to return to Bolivia in a year. “I’ll be back. For reasons of security I can’t go into detail about the plan we have for returning to Bolivia. But one has to go back to one’s country,” said Morales.
Congress, however, unanimously approved legislation in November this year which would exclude Morales from running for elections again. Morales has named his former economy minister, Luis Arce Catacora, and coca farmer union boss, Andronico Rodriguez, as potential MAS presidential candidates.
Claims of US-backed coup
Morales claims that the coup is US-backed and that the United States is after Bolivia’s vast lithium resource, stating that the OAS had a big hand in ousting him. “The OAS made a decision and its report is not based on a technical report, but on a political decision,” he has said.
Morales argues that Washington had not forgiven his decision to enter into lithium extraction partnerships with Russia and China rather than with the United States. “We as a state had begun industrializing lithium. As a small country of 10 million inhabitants, we were soon going to set the price of lithium. They know we have the greatest lithium reserves in the world of 16,000 square kilometers (over 6,100 square miles),” Morales added.
Lithium is critical to batteries, clean energy, and electric cars – something which has presumably caught the interests of US strategists since the 1960s. The South American nation houses at least a quarter of the world’s total lithium in the world’s largest salt flat – so large, in fact, it is visible from space.