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According to investigations carried out by the publication Declassified UK, the United Kingdom government quickly cozied up to Jeanine Añez's coup government to secure access to Bolivia's "white gold" (lithium) for British firms and the London Metals Exchange.
A new in-depth journalistic investigation reveals the extensive ties between the British Foreign Office and the coup government that ousted ex-president of Bolivia Evo Morales in November 2019, as well as its entrenched interests in exploiting Bolivia's lithium deposits just months after Morales was forced into exile.
The report reveals that the UK Embassy in Bolivia co-funded one project from 2019-20, which sought to "optimize Bolivia's lithium exploration and production (in the Coipasa and Pastos Grandes salt flats) using British technology" just after Añez's regime assumed power.
Similarly, the report found that the Foreign Office helped to fund Satellite Applications Catapult, an Oxford-based company, to the tune of £33,220 in its pursuit of further exploring lithium production in Bolivia.
In March 2020, the report found, the British Embassy organized an international event with Bolivia's Ministry of Mining, hosting over 300 global extractives executives, including forming British Army veterans, private security contractors, and Fortune 500 CEOS.
The report continues by detailing the UK's long fight to court the Bolivian government under MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) leadership, including efforts to connect the Lithium Triangle (Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia) with the London Metals Exchange, dating back to 2017.
Furthermore, Declassified UK explains how the British government worked for years to push cybersecurity efforts and investment in Bolivia's financial and banking systems, using firms and contractors linked to M15, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Security Agency to infiltrate the burgeoning lithium industry and gain intelligence on the lucrative contracts being reached with other foreign governments.
Interestingly, the investigations also reveal how the British Embassy in La Paz provided data for the discredited and flawed Organization of American States (OAS) report that directly facilitated electoral fraud claims and led to the coup d'etat against Evo Morales.
Immediately following the events of November 2019, British Home Secretary Dominic Raab criticized Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for denouncing the coup against the Bolivian people, stating, "The Organisation of American States refused to certify the Bolivian election because of systemic flaws. The people are protesting and striking on an unprecedented scale. But @jeremycorbyn puts Marxist solidarity ahead of democracy."
The statement, ultimately, proved consistent with the United Kingdom's intentions, as just four months later, Ambassador Jeff Glekin brought 12 British companies to Bolivia for the first time, stating, "Many are looking for new markets in the world and Bolivia can be an opportunity to grow. Due to the political changes in Bolivia, a more open environment for foreign investment is perceived, and I believe that this will open new doors to companies that want to share their technology, their products and make alliances with different companies."
Glekin continued by saying, "The demand for lithium is growing, and Bolivia must take advantage of that opportunity." Yet, after the resounding victory of Luis Arce in the October 2020 presidential elections, and after the fleeing of most of the top coup leaders abroad, the Foreign Office wiped their hands clean by stating," [the] presidential elections held in Bolivia in October 2020 were free and fair. There was no coup. The UK has a strong and constructive relationship with current and former Bolivian administrations."