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Monday, March 15, 2021

March 15, 2021

Lucas Leiroz, research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Political tensions are increasing in Bolivia. The return of Morales' party is providing a more open space for investigative operations against the groups that carried out the coup in 2019 and, as a result, various conspiracy schemes are being revealed. However, what is most striking is the recent discovery of a deep involvement of external agents in the coup, with emphasis on the role played by the UK.
A few days ago, former interim president Jeanine Áñez was arrested in Bolivia after finding out she was involved in conspiracy and terrorism activities. In addition to her active participation in the coup that overthrew Morales, Áñez acted strongly in promoting violence against members of the MAS (Morales’ party), betting on terrorism as a way to intimidate her opponents and guarantee the consolidation of the coup. Along with Ánez, some of her collaborators were arrested, such as former ministers Arturo Murillo and Williams Kaliman, who led the persecution of MAS through Bolivian security forces.

However, the arrest of Áñez and her ministers is only a small part of the great crusade that the new government is starting against the articulators of the coup. Investigations reveal that Áñez and her allies make up only the most superficial level of the great conspiracy against Morales in 2019. Even more so, not even those who are commonly attributed a relevant role in the maneuver, such as the rural elite of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, are in fact the main pieces of this game. Indeed, the government's investigations point to a clear political involvement of foreign agents through La Paz-based diplomats.

The main suspicions arose from the almost explicit support promoted by the UK for the Áñez government, which was possible to be contemplated not only in cooperation policies but also in social media with the constant exchanges of messages of mutual support between the British Embassy and the interim government. At no time did the British ambassador to Bolivia, Jeff Glekin, demonstrate a position of neutrality or "caution" about the country's political crisis - on the contrary, as can be seen in his Twitter account, since November 2019, he made several public demonstrations of support for the new government.

Investigating the case in greater depth, the Bolivian authorities, under the command of MAS, were able to notice that some meetings took place on the properties of the British Embassy between British diplomats and members of the Bolivian political and economic elite, a few months before the coup. In those meetings, discussions had been held with the objective of formulating strategies to guarantee the mutual interests of these groups on Bolivian soil. It is speculated, that in these meetings at the Embassy all the steps of the coup were defined, from the first agitation of paramilitary militias in Santa Cruz to the appointment of Áñez as president.

According to Declassified UK, the main activity performed by British diplomacy was to connect (false) information between the Bolivian political scenario and the Organization of American States (OAS). The turmoil against Morales began in Bolivia mainly after alleged evidence of electoral fraud in the process that re-elected him. This "evidence" emerged after a public report by OAS questioning the electoral result and demanding investigations into the legality of the process. The massive dissemination of this report by the rightist media agencies motivated the beginning of the protests that led to Evo's forced resignation. Now, it is revealed that the information released by the OAS and which supposedly pointed to fraud was passed on by the British Embassy in La Paz and was, in fact, invented data, whose sole purpose was to justify an agitation against the democratically elected government.

British interest does not come by chance. As has been exhaustively addressed since the beginning of the Bolivian crisis, the possible links between political change and the recent discoveries of new lithium fields in the Bolivian desert are becoming increasingly evident. Lithium is an essential natural resource for contemporary technological production. The rise of green capitalism with its "clean technologies" brings the need for lithium on a large scale and few places on the planet are as rich in this resource as Bolivia. In Uyuni, more than 21 million tons of lithium have already been found. And this arouses international interest, mainly from the British scientific industrial sector.

In June 2019, the British government declared that lithium had become a focal point in its new scientific and industrial strategy, announcing a 23 million pounds plan for the advanced development of electric car batteries (whose main raw material is precisely lithium). British interference in Latin America for the purpose of exploiting resources is a historical aspect of the UK's foreign policy and has simply generated yet another episode. On November 25, 2019, shortly after taking office, Áñez signed a contract with the British Embassy valued at 28 million dollars committing to export lithium to the UK.

In fact, there is nothing really surprising about these data: British and Americans (the upper echelons of the OAS) collaborating with economic elites from developing countries to overthrow sovereign governments and establish aligned regimes that allow the exploitation of natural resources without any measure. It is a common scenario in the history of Latin America and has been repeated over recent decades.

It remains to be seen what the attitude of the new Bolivian government will be from now on. The right thing to do, from a sovereign point of view, would be to go even deeper into the investigations and hold responsible all those who conspired against the government, but this is likely to generate fear and tensions in La Paz, considering the strength of British diplomacy. MAS will certainly be afraid of falling and for that reason it will pursue a more neutral stance, trying to make agreements with its enemies. It is likely that the prosecution will come only to a part of the Bolivian elite involved - as is already happening with Áñez and her allies - but, at the same time, the British Embassy will come out unscathed.

Source: InfoBrics

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