Resisting Green Colonialism: Lithium, Bolivia, and the Green New Deal
by Daniel Willis (@not_djw) on November 18, 2019



The Salar de Uyuni on Bolivia’s altiplano is the kind of place that Instagram influencers and drone photographers love. You may recognise it from glossy photos in National Geographic or from those Windows screensavers that encourage you to learn about somewhere new. In short, it is a space most regularly considered important by those in the global north for its aesthetic beauty and touristic value, a form of extractive commodification in which the homelands of Indigenous communities are depoliticised and deadened, viewed as little more than items to check off the bucket list.

But Uyuni is also set to be tied, in the coming decades, to an even more destructive form of capitalist extraction. Located roughly 150km from the infamous Cerro Rico de Potosí silver mine (the emblematic site founded by Spanish colonisers, at which the brutal mita labour system set in motion centuries of capitalist commodity extraction and caused an untold number of deaths), Salar de Uyuni is today estimated to hold between half and two-thirds of the world’s known lithium reserves. However, it is not just transnational corporations and greenwashing fossil fuel giants who threaten to renew Potosí department’s devastating history of mining. Unless great precautions are taken, the policy solutions to climate crisis proposed by some environmentalists and Green New Deal-supporters in the global north threaten to generate a global scramble for Uyuni’s lithium.
In part, this threat comes from a failure to reconcile the urgency of the climate emergency with the absolute necessity for socialists to foreground internationalist solidarity in ecological debates. As josie sparrow has written here previously, it comes from a:

notion that ecological concerns don’t connect to, or somehow transcend political considerations like justice, liberation, or decolonisation. It’s the notion, expounded by many in the Global North, that we somehow don’t have time to worry about how we do it.

Although this perspective is most apparent in the ultra-urgency of Extinction Rebellion activists to decarbonise the economy by 2025 whilst insisting that they are “beyond politics”, it is important for the Left to consider in detail the compatibility of demands for rapid decarbonisation, international solidarity and global climate justice.

The need to combine ecological, political and anti-imperialist concerns is all the more pressing in the wake of the events of recent weeks in Bolivia. Although opposition to Evo Morales constituted a broad coalition, the growing influence of racist and far-right political groups, mutinies by the police and military, and a conservative power grab which has seen a new transitional President proclaimed and Morales’ Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) excluded from Congress, power has rapidly been taken away from the grassroots elements of the opposition. Luis Fernando Camacho, a prominent opposition leader and wannabe Juan Guaidó, has significant links to the Bolivian far right in Santa Cruz. It would be a travesty if environmentalists or any advocate of a Green New Deal saw in this coup an opportunity to rapidly accelerate the extraction of Bolivia’s lithium to support decarbonisation targets.

Capitalists and Green New Dealers are not the only ones who’ve recognised Salar de Uyuni’s potential, though, and it is important to recognise that Evo Morales has already developed plans to accelerate lithium extraction. However, concerns about the social and environmental impacts of Evo’s developmentalist agenda will increase tenfold if Carlos Mesa, or a similar figure on the right, comes to power. Mesa has previously served as Vice President to the infamous “Goni” (President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada) who was the architect of a highly destructive package of neoliberal structural reforms to the Bolivian economy in the 1980s.This has not stopped Mesa receiving support from a range of environmentalists including Jhanisse V. Daza of Ríos de Pie, who has alleged connections to the US-based National Endowment for Democracy, and Ximena Banegas, a London-based activist who has been raising funds for Action for Bolivia and recently spoke alongside youth strikers at the Global Climate Strike in London.1 Both Banegas and Daza, and their respective NGOs, have denied that there is a coup in Bolivia and have shown support for Mesa. There is a very real risk, as others have identified, that the Bolivian Right increasingly greenwashes its reputation to increase opposition to the MAS.2

It would be a grave mistake for the Left to fall for these tactics. Mesa’s ascendancy to the Presidency would result in a re-orienting of Bolivia’s economy towards the global market and the rapid extraction of lithium to ends which run contrary to Evo’s highly successful poverty reduction agenda. Yet, it is the case that, in either scenario, there is a need for green campaigners and the Left in the global north to reconcile their demands for international solidarity and rapid decarbonisation. If they fail to do so, then there is a strong risk, as Asad Rehman has argued, that dealing with climate change acts as political cover for initiating a new era of “green colonialism” which sacrifices communities and landscapes for the sake of protecting the global north.3

“The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights.”

Why should the demands of a Green New Deal and international solidarity stand in apparent contradiction? This is because many of the technologies associated with renewable energy and decarbonisation rely on minerals and metals for their production, and these would need to be mined on a vastly increased scale if our current economic model continues. Lithium-ion batteries require cobalt, lithium, nickel and manganese. Rare earth minerals such as neodymium and dysprosium are required to build electric vehicles and to facilitate wind power. Solar panels make use of cadmium, indium, gallium, selenium, silver and tellurium, whilst aluminium and copper are important to all of these technologies.4

Although the Green New Deal remains many things to many people, the broad policy platforms outlined by those campaigning for it in the global north appear to be heavily reliant on metal and mineral-based technologies. For instance, the Green New Deal resolution proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whilst broadly recognising the common but differentiated responsibility and historic emissions of the US, proposes to meet “100% of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” and “remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector…including through investment in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure”. Although the resolution does refer to the expansion of affordable public transit, there is also the implication here that there will be similar expansion in electric vehicles – a technology particularly reliant on lithium battery production. Although talking perhaps more about finance than lithium, Miriam Brett’s assertion, that “a limitation of the Green New Deal in its current form as proposed in North America is that its state focus does not address underlying concerns amassing from an integrated global economy” applies also to how, under capitalist extractivism, a rush to decarbonise in the US would almost certainly lead to untold ecological and social damage in mining-affected communities in South America.5 The problem, in part, is that for some Green New Deal advocates this has barely been considered or, as one commentator puts it, green technology “seems to have an immaculate conception”.6

In fairness, both the Green New Deal for Europe and Labour for a Green New Deal campaigns specifically address the issue of resource extraction. The Green New Deal for Europe’s roadmap argues that:

Mobility is a perfect micro-example of how the transition to net-zero emissions could be devastating…simply replacing petrol with electric vehicles can contribute to environmental breakdown while maintaining extractive economic practices that disproportionately impact countries in the Global South.”

Similarly, Labour for a Green New Deal’s “Green New Deal Explained” series advocates for:

Supporting developing countries’ efforts to challenge unjust, neocolonial and unsustainable economic structures and ensuring the Green New Deal does not replicate these, particularly in the extractive sector.”

These are admirable platforms which take into account the international and internationalist dimensions of a Green New Deal and consider them seriously. Yet, the fact remains that, in any of these scenarios, there would be little change to projections which expect lithium demand to double by 2025 and to exceed known lithium reserves by 2050.7 With 80% of the world’s reserves held in Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, communities in these countries would be at high risk of suffering the environmental (e.g. water contamination) and socioeconomic impacts (described below) of intensive mining and commodity extraction.8 The question is, then, whether it is feasible, or even possible, for those in the north to sufficiently transform the extractive sector and supply chain injustices to simultaneously achieve rapid decarbonisation and a just transition.

“Still dazzled by the sensuous glitter of precious metals”

Most socialists will be well aware (perhaps from reading Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America) of the reasons why the prospect of increased resource extraction will be particularly worrying to Bolivian communities but it is worth (very briefly) recapping the economic, environmental and social consequences of commodity dependency in Bolivia and Latin America more widely.

From the very early stages of Europe’s colonisation of the Americas, the plunder of natural resources fundamentally structured the colonial administration’s relationship with landscape and society. Across the centuries, European capital has developed commodity chains in sugar, dyes and cacao, bananas, coffee, oil, fertilisers and rubber. Today (and in the near future), cocaine, fossil fuels and mining form the basis of Latin America’s licit and illicit commodity connections with the Anglo-European world.

Each of these commodities has its own history and the boom and bust of a commodity’s lifecycle is rarely exactly the same as another. However, there are several key impacts which have been fairly common across each trade:

  1. Forced labour: The enforced labour of Indigenous communities through the mita system facilitated the vast extraction of silver for European markets with an astronomical death toll (by the sixteenth century, the Spanish had begun importing slaves from Africa to replace fallen Indigenous workers at Potosí). Indentured servitude and slavery laid the foundation for future trades in sugar, coffee, Yucatán henequen and other trades. One of the most infamous cases was the treatment of Indigenous communities in Putumayo (Peru) and the western Amazon in the early twentieth century. Roger Casement, Foreign Office diplomat who investigated human rights abuses in the Belgian Congo before later taking part in the Easter Rising, stated in his report on Putumayo that “the crimes charged against many men now in the employ of the Peruvian Amazon Company are of the most atrocious kind”.

  2. Monoculture economies: The additional wealth and investment that particular commodities can attract during a boom encourages capital to shift most of their resources into that industry. This has typically led to underdevelopment of other sectors of the economy and increased economic instability as whole economies become tied to the fluctuations in a single commodity price, making them extremely vulnerable to price shocks.
    Long-term commodity dependency: In the long-term, this focus on resource extraction leads to an economic imbalance in which Latin American economies have become, despite periods of nationalisation and partial industrialisation, overly reliant on commodity exports with underdeveloped manufacturing sectors. This broadly means that extracted economies get only a small portion of profits which flow out of the country to manufacturers creating “value added” products in the global north. It also generates a strong level of dependency on the financial stability of purchasers in the north, creating further vulnerability. These factors in turn contribute to what has come to be known as the “resource curse”, a condition in which commodity-dependent economies tend towards high levels of poverty, inequality and corruption.

  3. Social and political conflicts: Commodity trades primarily benefit Anglo-European capitalists and a small clique of local elites in Latin America. The Latin American oligarchy has retained its power and wealth over centuries, despite significant periods when governments have tried to limit their influence. The accumulation of capital within this sector has led to significant instability and inequality between regions with wealth not only extracted from dependent to extractive nations but also from the countryside to major cities and ports. Significant political power is also wielded by transnational corporations such as the infamous United Fruit Company. The War of the Pacific (1879-83) between Chile, Bolivia and Peru was fought for control of the Atacama Desert; the Chileans were heavily backed by British financiers keen to exploit the nitrate-rich territory.

  4. Environmental impact: The environmental impacts of commodity extraction are wide-ranging, including (but not limited too): water contamination, deforestation, soil degradation, excessive use of land, high carbon emissions, acidification, excessive energy demand, and increased chance of wildfires. Chilean community leader Marcela Mella recently warned that the plan to extract 400,000 tonnes of copper per year from Chile’s Andean glaciers “could lead to the destruction of vital ecosystems which also supplies water to the 6 million people living in Chile’s capital, Santiago”.9 Slash and burn techniques of deforestation, associated with the spread of agribusiness, have been blamed for the huge number of fires seen in recent years across the Amazon, elsewhere in Brazil and in Bolivia’s Pantanal and Chiquitano regions.10 Commodity extraction also requires significant, carbon-intensive infrastructure to facilitate exports, such as the toxic tailings dams associated with large mines (two of which have collapsed in Brazil, killing almost 300 people, in the past five years).

Owing to these damaging social, environmental and economic impacts, communities across Latin America are increasingly demanding a just transition to a post-extractivist society, and activists have visited the UK recently to ask for support and solidarity in this mission.11 A post-extractivist society would not necessarily imply an end to all lithium mining, but would require it to be significantly scaled back through a reduction in demand, improved human rights and environmental protections, increased levels of recycling, and exploration of alternatives. The “circular economy” principles of a post-extractivist society are absolutely crucial to resolving the debate between the devil of commodity fetishism and the Green New Deal. It would be a travesty if, instead of supporting these principles, global north campaigners enforced a new generation of commodity dependency on Bolivia in the name of “saving the planet”.

Bolivia’s open veins

The state of lithium mining in Bolivia at this moment is mixed. Increasing prices and slow industrialisation over the past decade made lithium a more attractive and accessible prospect to the MAS government. However, the quality of lithium deposits in Salar de Uyuni make it difficult to extract and Chile remains the biggest lithium exporter in South America, but this has not stopped Bolivia making export deals with both Germany and China in recent years.

Since coming to power in 2006, Evo Morales has nationalised or taken much greater state control over numerous industries (most notably gas, hydroelectricity and telecommunications). However, whilst Morales has notably angered transnational corporations and local elites with his nationalisation plans, he has also angered former allies on the Left by pursuing a rigorous policy of “resource developmentalism”. Rather than seeking to break with the cycle of commodity extraction, Evo has instead appeared to partially appease big business by taking increasing tax revenues and increasing state control without tackling the underlying economic model. Most notably, Morales’ government has reaped the rewards of its support for agriculture, gas, and mining exports. Like its neighbour Peru, high commodity prices largely protected Bolivia from the impact of the global financial crash, but their sharp decline in 2014 has stalled the economy and increased the pressure on Morales’ government. Pablo Solón, a former Morales ally (now critic) and Bolivian ambassador, argues that Morales’ government:

no longer [wants] to advance toward agro-ecology, but rather to guarantee governability and their next re-election. The government made an alliance with this sector, which provides them with certain benefits, in exchange for continuity in power… [they are] promoting a very consumerist, developmentalist perspective of western modernity.12

After significant protests by communities in Potosí, this November Morales cancelled the export agreement with Germany’s ACI Systems (ACISA) which provides Tesla with lithium-ion batteries (it has been reported that Tesla’s stock rose after Morales’ resignation).13 He has also recently announced plans to nationalise the lithium-battery industry in Bolivia as a “value-added” sector and recently celebrated the first electric car to be domestically manufactured in Bolivia by the state-owned company.14

It should be said here that the state ownership of lithium and related industries is not an insignificant factor. We could imagine that there would be three core goals for Leftist governments with abundant natural resources in the global south: creating opportunities for development, retaining revenues from resource extraction, and limiting the environmental and social impacts of extraction. Any extractivist government in a global capitalist system will find that the first of these is more or less guaranteed (as there will always be a new resource to dig up and sell) but this will come at the expense of the environment and communities. Under Evo’s model, however, the revenues of extraction have at least been retained by the state for spending on social programmes etc. This fundamentally challenges the “resource curse” and Bolivia’s subordinate position in the global division of labour because, although minerals and metals are still extracted from the Earth, it limits the extraction of wealth by transnational corporations and imperial nations. Statist extraction can therefore support efforts to achieve social justice within Bolivia (through state spending) whilst also levelling the global playing field, particularly through the development of nationalised, value-added industries. As Thea Riofrancos suggests, Morales’ cancellation of the ACISA contract may have been a ploy to negotiate higher state revenues in a new contract, but a transition to a revanchist neoliberal regime would almost certainly benefit ACISA and other corporations looking to profit from lithium.

Lithium extraction under Morales should therefore be seen as being qualitatively to a neoliberal extractivist agenda under Carlos Mesa, but of course there are important critiques to be made of both, particularly given the scale of extraction pursued by Morales and the alleged suppression of resistance to it.15 Morales’ approach has also, it could be argued, not removed imperial influence from Bolivia but has instead re-oriented the country closer toward China (whilst maintaining its extractive economic system). If the existing evidence from China’s Belt and Road Initiative is anything to go by, then any expansion in lithium mining is likely to bring significant amounts of carbon-intensive infrastructure in the development of export corridors. These would add to the significant detrimental social and environmental impacts of mining projects, particularly on Indigenous communities reliant on water sources in rural areas.

Despite this, activists and communities in Latin America are not opposed in mining in totality, but to extractivism. A transition to a post-extractivist era of responsible mining does not imply an end to resource extraction, but to a significant reduction to its quantity and negative impacts. Rather than endless extraction to pursue economic growth, post-extractivism would entail a national and international diffusion of the circular economy principles that Andean communities already recognise through the concept known in Quechua as sumak kawsay (“buen vivir” in Spanish; roughly, “good living”). Sumak kawsay broadly implies a culture of reciprocity, collectivity, respect for Mother Earth and a balance between the rights of all human and non human beings. Stemming from the cosmovision of Indigenous Andean communities, sumak kawsay has emerged as a useful paradigm for understanding the individuality, extractivism, imbalance and disrespect for human and nature generated by capitalism.16 In short, sumak kawsay is a form of political ecology, and has been used as such by both Morales and Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa who both wrote the rights of nature into law in office.

Of course, there is always a risk that, if treated without care, such gestures only result in the extraction of Indigenous knowledge for greenwashing, and both Correa and Morales were accused of hypocrisy for continuing to extract fossil fuels despite these laws. It is the global capitalist system, however, which ensures that extraction is the only game in town, and for true transformation to occur the principles of sumak kawsay must be embedded at an international level. As Javier Puente argues, the series of mobilisations seen across Tawantinsuyu, from Ecuador to Chile, in in the past two months mark not only frustration with corruption and persistent poverty but a fury at unending neoliberalism which may well result in deeper transformation.17

As for Morales’ legacy, the failure to enact the cultural and societal transformation implied by the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, have been among a series of perceived disappointments for elements of the Bolivian Left.. A perceived failure to tackle agribusiness elites and the weakening of Indigenous social movements are also cited as Evo’s mistakes. In particular, Morales’ alienation of key allies in civil society, including the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB - Bolivia’s major trade union federation), National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ) and the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB - both important Indigenous organisations) demonstrate the level of animosity he has generated.

But it is important to also recognise how these well-meaning, criticisms have been used as a Trojan Horse for stronger attacks on Evo by Bolivia’s neoliberal right. As several have argued, concerns about the environment and the Chiquitano fires have been used as a greenwashing technique by Mesa and his supporters, despite them offering little alternative (or indeed an acceleration) of the current economic model. It is important therefore for the Left, in Bolivia and internationally, to strongly consider Latin America’s history of resource extraction and imperialism as the continuing debate on Morales’s legacy unfolds. The path to a post-extractivist society will be most easily found through a Left government that can reconnect with its social base and grassroots movements, protect and extend the rights of nature and Indigenous communities, and tackle corporate influence over Bolivian mining and agriculture. Indeed, as Morales’ Vice President Álvaro García Linera has argued, in order to achieve this kind of transformation one has to imagine a long process of socialisation, nationally and internationally:

The revolutionary socialist processes that developed over the last 150 years have inherited as a condition of possibility and limitation — during the time they existed — this location in the international division of global labour. The Paris Commune, the Soviet Republic in the time of Lenin, or Mao’s China, did not break with this worldwide material base. They could not do that. Instead, what they did was to take as their point of departure their location in the division of labour and the level of their productive forces, so that from there they could begin to revolutionize the internal economic structures through a long process of socialization of the conditions of production, and to promote an even greater and longer process of revolutionary transformation of international economic relations.18

While there is significant opposition to the MAS after nearly 14 years in government, the alternative could be far far worse.

What does international solidarity look like in this context?

Until very recently, this question would have revolved around the question of how to tackle the climate emergency, support the poverty reduction efforts of the Morales government whilst simultaneously showing solidarity with Indigenous communities affected by resource extraction AND exploring ways to end Bolivia’s commodity dependency. After the events of 10 November, however, it is even more crucial that the international Left rallies to demonstrate effective solidarity along the following principles:

  1. Firstly, it is vital to show solidarity with Evo Morales and the MAS senators who have been forced out of office by a military-backed coup. The human rights of all Morales / MAS supporters must be protected. Given that there are serious doubts over whether any electoral fraud took place in October (as explained in this thread ), it is doubtful that any further elections would be recognised by the neoliberal-far right coalition in Bolivia that now appears to be gaining the ascendancy (indeed, Camacho has been calling for a “junta of notables” to govern instead). However, calls for free and fair elections in which the MAS and other Left parties are free to participate (with international observers drawn from Mexico, Argentina and, for argument’s sake, a UK government led by Jeremy Corbyn) must be supported.

  2. It is crucial that the Left resists the efforts of the Bolivian Right, oligarchic elite and international capital to use this as an opportunity to rapidly liberalise Bolivia’s economy. Greenwashing corporations such as BP and ExxonMobil are already advertising their supposedly green credentials – these are the corporations who will be desperate to get their hands on Salar de Uyuni. It is particularly important to limit the power of transnational corporations by tightening lobbying rules for fossil fuel companies (as was done with the tobacco industry), removing corporate courts from investment deals and supporting the UN Process for a Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations.

  3. Green New Deal advocates and the wider Left should factor into their plans the need for a just transition to a post-extractivist society, a growing demand of Indigenous communities and civil society across Latin America. This must be an absolute red line, even if it threatens decarbonisation targets. Lithium mining cannot be used as a shortcut to saving the global north at the expense of the south through a new wave of green extractivism. This means building relationships with civil society in the global south and working to ensure genuine prior consent from affected communities.

  4. At the present juncture, particularly given recent events, it seems inevitable that lithium extraction will continue and accelerate in the years to come. In this sense, it is vital that a new lithium curse is not enforced on Bolivia. This may be avoided through the development of a nationalised, democratically-controlled lithium battery industry, as Morales recently proposed. Campaigners in the global north could support this by putting pressure on governments to support publicly owned manufacturing industries through the transfer of finance, technology and skills, as called for by numerous proponents of a ‘Global Green New Deal’.19 As Labour for a Green New Deal argue, “the UK is one of only six countries that together account for almost 80% of all patent applications in clean energy technologies…that could otherwise assist developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change”.20 Tackling this should be a priority and, in this regard, John McDonnell’s insistence on developing socialist internationalism alongside tackling the climate emergency is extremely encouraging. McDonnell has demonstrated his understanding that Britain’s current prosperity is based both on historic carbon emissions and colonial exploitation and dispossession, “something that left a lasting legacy for the Global South”.21 Whilst the policy details of how this would happen are yet to be fully worked out, the conceptualisation of green technology transfers as one of a series of reparations for colonial extraction would be welcome.

  5. The drive for lithium extraction, however, must be mitigated and contained as much as possible and this must be done in the global north. As War on Want have highlighted, demand for lithium is particularly driven by projected scenarios in which demand for electric vehicle batteries is vastly increased.22 Whilst the expansion of affordable and accessible transport will limit this demand, and there is a clear need for private ownership to be made virtually unnecessary, we must also show solidarity by tackling the crisis of overproduction in Western economies which allow these industries to be so profitable. As Michael Molloy has argued here previously, this means moving away from the endless pursuit of GDP-growth and towards a model of “degrowth” as “a way of addressing the present day crisis of overproduction”. This is not an argument just for more recycling and less plastic straws, but is about tackling the systemic bloating of northern economies and the excessive demands this places on the world’s resources. In fact, it would mean bringing our lifestyles more in line with the sumak kawsay circular economy principles espoused by Indigenous communities in the Americas. Although many have criticised Evo Morales (and Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa) for both enshrining the rights of Pachamama (“Mother Earth”) in their respective constitutions whilst pursuing resource developmentalist policies, we can demonstrate solidarity by enshrining these principles in our own laws and negating the global economic forces which make commodity dependency the only game in town.

  6. On degrowth, as an important point of clarification and on extending solidarity, we must also rigorously defend the rights of states, communities and families to grow as is necessary. As many advocates of the Green New Deal have identified, the twin crises of inequality and climate emergency need to be tackled in tandem. It is utterly grotesque to weaponise the climate crisis against impoverished communities in the global south, and it would be equally grotesque to tell Indigneous communities, or indeed the 14.3 million people living in poverty in the UK, of their need to “degrow”. This point cannot be made often enough; Earth has the planetary limits, financial and natural resources for the vast majority to expand their economic activity significantly and live a far more comfortable and joyful live, as long as capitalist overproduction and extreme wealth inequality are tackled.

  7. Serious efforts must be made to improve the recycling of metals used in renewable technology. Lithium is currently recycled at woeful levels and drastic improvements will have to be made to reduce overall demand.

  8. The Left must campaign for the reform of financial institutions to tackle the power imbalance between global north and global south. International co-operation to tackle the climate crisis will be absolutely crucial, especially to limit the power of transnational corporations and to agree on financing measures to fund adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage due to climate change. Only by tackling the inequalities within the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions will a genuinely internationalist Green New Deal become possible.

  9. There will be no climate justice without migrant justice. As has been argued here previously, this is already included in the work done by Labour for a Green New Deal but has often been ignored by commentators. Extending solidarity will necessitate a movement to open borders whilst also funding adaptation and mitigation measures across the global south.

  10. The Left must, as a matter of urgency, improve and extend its relations with communities and civil society in the global south. Left critiques of Morales’s developmentalism have been too much of an oversight and it is vital that solidarity is not only extended to heads-of-state, but also to trade unions and Indigenous communities. Solidarity means providing support both to these communities to build support for post-extractivist economic models, and to global south governments to negotiate viable plans for a just transition.


  1. Wyatt Reed, ‘Western regime-change operatives launch campaign to blame Bolivia’s Evo Morales for Amazon fires’, 29 August 2019; GoFundMe, ‘Amazon, Chiquitania And Pantanal Are Burning’ 

  2. Olivia Arigho Stiles, ‘Greenwashing Bolivia’s Rightwing Opposition’, Alborada, 15 October 2019. 

  3. Asad Rehman, ‘The “green new deal” supported by Ocasio-Cortez and Corbyn is just a new form of colonialism’, IndyVoices, 4 May 2019. 

  4. Institute for Sustainable Futures, Responsible minerals sourcing for renewable energy (2019). 

  5. Miriam Brett, ‘Reforming the Bretton Wood Institutions to Support a Global Green New Deal’ (2019). 

  6. Max Ajl, ‘Beyond the Green New Deal’, The Brooklyn Rail, November 2018. 

  7. War on Want, A Just(ice) Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition: centering the extractive frontier in climate justice (2019), p.12. 

  8. Pía Marchegiani, Jasmin Höglund Hellgren and Leandro Gómez, Lithium extraction in Argentina: a case study on the social and environmental impacts (2019). 

  9. Asad Rehman, ‘The “green new deal” supported by Ocasio-Cortez and Corbyn is just a new form of colonialism’. 

  10. NPR, ‘Bolivia Is Fighting Major Forest Fires Nearly As Large As In Brazil’, 18 September 2019. 

  11. London Mining Network, ‘Unmasking BHP: introducing the defenders…’ 28 September 2019; Daniel Willis, ‘Frontline communities affected by mining projects call for international solidarity against transnational corporations’, 22 October 2019. 

  12. Jeffery Webber, ‘Bolivian Horizons: An Interview with Pablo Solón’, 22 October 2019. 

  13. Eoin Higgins, ‘Bolivian Coup Comes Less Than a Week After Morales Stopped Multinational Firm’s Lithium Deal’, CommonDreams, 11 November 2019. 

  14. Ibid.; ‘Bolivia to Introduce First Domestically-Made Vehicle’, teleSUR, 2 October 2019. 

  15. Rail Zibechi, ‘Bolivia: The Extreme Right Takes Advantage of a Popular Uprising’, 11 November 2019. 

  16. For an exploration of Indigenous knowledge, non-human beings and modern politics, see Marisol de la Cadena, Earth Beings (2015). 

  17. Javier Puente, ‘Andean Unrest: The Neoliberal Cycle Comes to an End?’, Radical History Review, 15 November 2019. 

  18. Álvaro García Linera, ‘Once Again on So-called “Extractivism”’, MR Online, 29 April 2013. 

  19. UNCTAD, Financing a Global Green New Deal (2019), p.v; Daniel Aldana Cohen, Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, and Thea Riofrancos, ‘For a Global Green New Deal’ (2019), p.9. 

  20. Labour for a Green New Deal, Supporting Developing Countries’ Climate Transitions (2019), p.5. 

  21. John McDonnell, ‘Speech at Labour Party Conference’, 23 September 2019. 

  22. War on Want, A Just(ice) Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition, p.12. 


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