Government, Resources - Bolivia's Lithium In Question After Evo Leaves
Deposed Bolivian President Evo Morales has boarded a Mexican Air Force jet and flew off to accept Mexico's offer of political asylum.
"It hurts to leave the country for political reasons, but I will stay in touch," he wrote on Twitter. "Soon I will return with more strength and energy."
Mr. Morales resigned the presidency he held since 2004 under pressure from the military and police, which backed right-wing protests against his recent reelection last month. The US-backed Organization of American States (OAS) claimed - without offering any evidence - that there were "irregularities" in the vote. That sparked protests which snowballed over the weekend.
And yet, Morales proved that Socialism works. Since he took office, general poverty in Bolivia declined by 25 percent and extreme poverty dropped by 43 percent. Social spending increased by 45 percent, and the real minimum wage went up more than 87 percent. The Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean has praised Bolivia for being "one of the few countries that has reduced inequality".
But Evo fiercely protected his peoples' rights to Bolivia's natural resources. Last month, he had cancelled a Lithium mining deal with the German multi-national company ACI Systems Alemania (ACISA) over concerns that not enough benefit would go to the indigenous people who live near the untapped Salar de Uyuni salt flats in the high Andes Mountains, where sits as much as 45 to 70 percent of the world's known reserves of Lithium.
Western economies want Lithium, which some call the the "gold of the 21st century". Without increased production from Bolivia sold to Western companies, auto and mobile device manufacturers will struggle by the mid-2020s. But much to the chagrin of Western powers, Chinese and Russian firms have been among the few that have reached production deals.
Investment analysts are urging investors to keep an eye on the developing situation. ACISA before the coup d'etat said it was "confident that our lithium project will be resumed after a phase of political calmness and clarification" - within days, Evo was on a plane for asylum in Mexico. Among ACISA's top clients is Tesla, shares of which gained 2.36 percent in value after the coup.