On November 21, it became known that special troops, advisors and foreign mercenary groups were acting alongside Bolivia’s armed and security forces that are repressing the unarmed people in the context of the coup d’état against the government of President Evo Morales. The investigations point to that country’s permeable borders with Argentina (then under the government of Mauricio Macri), Chile, Brazil, and Paraguay, according to researchers on “militarization and intervention in 2018”.
“The intimidation of Bolivia through the installation of bases and actions on the border with Chile and Argentina is taking place in an accelerated process of proven militarization of the continent and that is the reason for the visits of the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, to South America as well as James Matti, former Secretary of Defense, to both countries, before he was replaced in July of this year by Mark Espert, according to researchers in the report,”Bolivia in the U.S. Military Sights“.
Mattis is credited with ordering Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero to coordinate the final destruction of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) before his official visit to Chile in August 2018.
It was in August 2018 that the People’s Assembly of the Puna in the Argentine province of Jujuy denounced and warned of U.S. military incursions into the Quiaca (border with Bolivia) that were taking place after an agreement was signed between the government of Mauricio Macri and the Georgian National Guard to install a covert base on the border with Bolivia, also not far from where Argentine, Chilean and Bolivian lithium are located.
On August 19 last year, Chile announced the creation of a permanent working group to “confront crime in the macro area of the border with Bolivia, comprised of representatives of the Carabineros, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Public and Internal Security Ministries based in Iquique”.
This was also the argument put forward by outgoing President Mauricio Macri, who together with Brazil and Chile, redirected the role of the Armed Forces to intervene in internal security, returning to their role during the 70s and 80s. In Argentina, the army was given a logistical role to “support the security forces”, especially on the northern borders.
In the aforementioned investigation, it is also mentioned that the permanent militarization of the Argentine and Chilean borders with Bolivia coincided with the entry of the US corporation “Ensorcia Metals” to which Argentina and Chile granted the manufacture of their lithium batteries .
In addition, analyzing the geopolitics of lithium in the region, Bolivia, which has the largest lithium reservoir, created a state-owned company for the industrialization of lithium in partnership with European companies. “The geopolitics of lithium has been profoundly transformed from a highly complicated situation to one that is extremely dangerous for the economies and regional peace”.
This sovereign decision by Bolivia is cited as one of the reasons why the United States hastened the coup in that country. A series of agreements signed between the Southern Command and other U.S. military and intelligence institutions with the Macri government increased the U.S. military presence throughout the country, with a preponderance on the border with Bolivia, a zone activated since 2018.
Between August 20 and 31 of last year, the Bolivian government reacted to the large “Southern Star” military manoeuvres carried out on the borders of Argentina and Chile with Bolivia. The use of helicopters, planes, paratroopers, armored vehicles and troops appeared to be a rehearsal for an invasion of Bolivia, causing concern to President Evo Morales.
In the Chilean-American manoeuvres in Antofagasta (Chile) there were 1,100 troops, and a similar number in Argentina, allegedly with the objective of .creating “joint task forces for Special Operations” under the direction of Southern Command
Evoi Morales was concerned about the U.S. military presence and even more so when Argentine diplomatic officials confirmed that the Macri government had decided to install a military unit in Abra Pampa, Jujuy, some 70 kilometers from the Bolivian border. And although they said that they did not need military from other countries due to the capacity of the Argentine military, Southern Command was already building a base in the province of Neuquén, near the Vaca Muerta deposits in the south and also other bases in Usuhaia, Tierra del Fuego, and also the DEA in the Argentine zone of the Triple Frontier, publicly announced by former Security Minister Patricia Bullrich.
President Evo Morales expressed his concern in his Twitter account before the 2018 exercises and also denounced military exercises between Chile and the US in the Antofagasta region as an imperialist threat against regional peace. “U.S. troops in Latin America do not guarantee dignity or sovereignty. We live in times of liberation of the peoples and not of subordination to empires,” wrote Evo.
By August 24, 2018, President Morales had already criticized Macri for intimidating Bolivia with excessive border militarization. “I do not agree with what Argentina has done in recent days, militarizing the border with Bolivia, in La Quiaca, in front of the Bolivian city of Villazón”. At that time he recalled that U.S. military bases such as those promoted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are not synonymous with liberation, since these bases are synonymous with theft, looting, and confinement in war.
The response of former Defense Minister Oscar Aguad, who has signed all manner of military agreements with the United States that did not pass through Congress, said that Argentina’s plan to deploy military personnel on the northern border was part of a program of the Macri government to provide logistical support to the security forces in the fight against drug trafficking and was part of a sovereign decision by Argentina.
None of this justified the deployment of an additional 500 military personnel to the northern border, reinforcing the operation that foresees a global deployment of three thousand military personnel. And this movement of troops from mid-September and early October, was shocking in 2019. Bolivia was aware of the presence of special forces and rapid deployment of Southern Command along with the Argentine and Chilean military.
It is now known that the Belgrano Cargas train, which had been stopped for the past 35 years, transported weapons from Alto Córdoba, supposedly destined for these last manoeuvres in Jujuy, moving 21 vehicles for the troops destined for the IV Vicuña Exercise on the Horizon, within the so-called Operativo Norte and for the Rapid Deployment Forces Battalion formed by military members of the Southern Command, who were trained “to act in the face of a threat or emergency”.
It is impossible to ignore the coincidences between the trip of Ivana Trump, daughter of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to Jujuy at the beginning of September 2019, especially in view of the unusual entourage that accompanied her, including 2,500 federal agents, according to the information from Jujuy, and important U.S. officials such as the Deputy Secretary of State, and the meetings, in which opposition leaders from Bolivia participated. Supposedly this trip by Ivana Trump was to visit a women’s NGO, created under an “aid” organization through which she travels to different countries in the world. All this was meant to be a “social front” that could conceal other objectives. In fact, she publicly handed over to the governor of Jujuy province 400 million dollars supposedly for “infrastructure”.
By November, at the height of the coup d’état, rumours were beginning to spread about the complicity of the governor of Jujuy in the coup against Evo, and several investigations into the weapons that passed through the borders of Chile and Argentina on their way to Bolivia, as well as the presence of special troops, could not be ignored. Indeed, it is suspected that part of the weapons displaced for the aforementioned manoeuvres prompted a series of investigations and a group of analysts are preparing a report to request the necessary explanations for the Argentine, Chilean and other neighbouring countries involvement in the coup against Evo Morales, while concealing the military participation of the United States with their own forces.
*Correspondent for La Jornada in Mexico where part of this article was published at the end of 2019
Translation by Internationalist 360°