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Neocolonialism alert

The New York Times has an article today about Bolivia and its vast lithium reserves. Fine.

But check out this lede:

In the rush to build the next generation of hybrid or electric cars, a sobering fact confronts both automakers and governments seeking to lower their reliance on foreign oil: almost half of the world’s lithium, the mineral needed to power the vehicles, is found here in Bolivia — a country that may not be willing to surrender it so easily.

Holy neocolonialism, Batman! You mean they won’t just hand it over to the benevolent resource extractors of the United States?

And the natives want their say, too:

“We know that Bolivia can become the Saudi Arabia of lithium,” said Francisco Quisbert, 64, the leader of Frutcas, a group of salt gatherers and quinoa farmers on the edge of Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. “We are poor, but we are not stupid peasants,” he said. “The lithium may be Bolivia’s, but it is also our property.”

The new constitution Mr. Morales managed to pass handily last month bolsters such claims. One of its provisions could give Indians control over the natural resources in their territory, strengthening their ability to win concessions from authorities and private companies, or even block mining projects.

Now, it sure would be nice to get a cheap supply of lithium to ease the transition away from oil, but the alarmism oozing out of the Times article is a little nauseating. Please, people, let Bolivia — and its people — do with their resources what they will.