Online reaction to the official rattling off specific quantities of the region’s mineral wealth reserves included a ravenous Looney Tunes wolf licking its chops and a photoshopped image featuring Gen. Richardson overlayed with the mask of “Lord Humongous,” the bloodthirsty gas-seeking marauder who violently besieges the protagonists of ‘Mad Max 2.’
A video of US Army Gen. Laura J. Richardson, commander of US Southern Command, gushing about Latin America’s “off-the-charts” natural resources at the Aspen Forum on Wednesday has gone viral, with over a quarter of a million views on Twitter alone in the 24 hours since its release.
“This region is so rich in resources… it’s off-the-charts rich,” exclaims Richardson.
U.S. SOUTHCOM Commander:”This region is so rich in resources.. it’s off the charts rich.”
“60% of the world’s lithium is in the region; you have heavy crude, you have light sweet crude, you have rare earth elements, you have the Amazon..” pic.twitter.com/33dQ6EXKAo
— Kawsachun News (@KawsachunNews) July 20, 2022
“Our competitors and adversaries also know how rich in the resources that this region is,” the general continues, before listing Latin America’s mineral wealth by memory:
“60% of the world’s lithium is in the region; you have heavy crude, you have light sweet crude, you have rare earth elements, you have the Amazon… you have the 31% of the world’s fresh water here in this region.”
Richardson subsequently insists -without providing evidence – that the US government’s “competitors and adversaries” are “taking advantage of this region every single day,” and warns “what happens in this region in terms of security, impacts our security – our national security in the homeland.”
In her full comments, the general goes on to dismissively refer to Latin America and the Caribbean as the “neighborhood” of the US, in an apparent invocation of the “Monroe Doctrine,” the US government’s centuries-long policy of treating the entirety of the Americas as the exclusive colonial domain of the US.
Historically, relations between US elites and their purported ‘neighbors’ have been rather one-sided; the CIA deposed the first democratically-elected leader of Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, after he tried to get the Chiquita company to pay its fair share; destroyed the economy of Chile’s first democratically-elected president and helped see him killed; and oversaw at least 500 failed attempts to execute Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Upwards of 50,000 political opponents and left-wing sympathizers were killed and hundreds of thousands were tortured under the CIA’s so-called “Operation Condor,” which saw US-backed dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay dispose of dissidents with international impunity.
The US government has reportedly backed 56 military interventions in the region and, if former national security adviser John Bolton was to be believed when he recently boasted that he’s “planned coups d’etat” in Venezuela and elsewhere, they haven’t stopped.
Jake Tapper: “One doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup.”
John Bolton: “I disagree with that. As somebody who has helped plan coup d’etat, not here, but other places, it takes a lot of work.” pic.twitter.com/REyqh3KtHi
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 12, 2022
If Latin American countries are looking for threats to their natural resources, they may not have to look as far as Asia. According to former Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was ousted in a US-backed coup in 2019:
“In the United States, there is great concern about lithium, and this coup is about lithium. They don’t want us to get the added value to lithium as a state; they always want our natural resources to be in the hands of transnationals.”