The Socialist Win in Bolivia and the New Era of Lithium Extraction – by Kate Aronoff (The New Republic – October 2020)

An apparent victory for Evo Morales’s Movement Toward Socialism shows that tomorrow’s green energy won’t look much like the old oil empires

Just under a year after Evo Morales’s government was ousted by U.S.-backed far-right forces, his Movement Toward Socialism, or MAS, party looks almost certain to take back power after Sunday’s election.

Morales, the country’s first Indigenous president, remains in exile in Argentina. His election in 2019 remains hotly debated: While the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States challenged the result due to a gap between preliminary and final results, subsequent analyses have argued that the gap was explainable and legitimate and that the OAS assessment was “flawed” and highly political.

Now, with an estimated 52.4 percent of the vote, Morales’s former finance minister, Luis Arce, is on track to become the country’s new leader after a deadly year of racist state repression under interim President Jeanine Añez Chávez.

Bolivia’s tumultuous past year also features a powdery white subplot with worldwide implications. Not long after being forced out of the country, Morales and many of his supporters argued that he was ousted in part as a response to his attempts to nationalize the country’s lithium—a mineral used in batteries that power various clean energy technologies, including electric cars.

“My crime, my sin, is to be an Indian,” he told American journalist Glenn Greenwald in an interview, “and to have nationalized our natural resources, removed the transnational corporations from the hydrocarbon sector and mining.”

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