US Southern Command and its disturbing fixation on Latin American resources

A few days from the CELAC Summit, where the foundations for the creation of a common currency were laid, another meeting was held further north, much further north. The think tank NATO Atlantic Council organized a talk within the framework of a whole series of presentations that they carry out with senior US military officials, and in this recent edition convened the head of the US Southern CommandLaura Richardson.

Because the woman has a peculiarity: that of speaking without too much filter. I don’t know if she’s American exceptionalism or what, but she not only calls things by her name, but then she offers a whole road map for her country.

And in this call, he enlightened us with more than an hour of reflections on Latin America and about its natural resources:

Why is that region important? With all its rich resources and rare earth elements. Do you have the lithium triangle which is necessary for technology. 60% of the world’s lithium is in the lithium triangle: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile. You have the largest oil reserves, light sweet crude discovered in Guyana a year or so ago. You also have the Venezuelan resources, with oil, copper, gold. China gets 36% of its food from that region. We have the Amazon, The world’s lung. We have 31% of the world’s fresh water in that region as well. It is something out of the ordinary.

A flattering speech, if it weren’t for the fact that, from time to time, the disturbing “we have” slips out: we have. Who has the Amazon and 31% of the world’s fresh water? We: us. It may be that it is a mere explanatory resource to say that “there is”, just as it is sometimes used in Spanish.

In the year 2022 the price of lithium increased by 400%, and from that level it does not drop. Indeed, the largest lithium reserves in the world are held by bolivianwith more than 21 million tons, Argentina, with more than 19 million tons and Chile, with slightly less than ten million tons. add it Mexico and Peru and you have an additional three million.

Laura Richardson knows this better than we do, which is why she makes it directly a matter of national security for the US: “We have a lot to do. This region matters, it has a lot to do with national security and we have to improve our strategy.”

The response did not wait for these statements. After the chat went viral, Evo Moralesformer president of Bolivia, that country that has the largest lithium reserves concentrated in the Uyuni Salt Flatswrote on his Twitter account a reminder to the head of the Southern Command that “Latin America is not his backyard or his farm to exploit natural resources. In the face of the new Yankee interventionist threat, we reiterate that the free peoples of the Great Homeland will defend their sovereignty”.

And really one could take it with tweezers, saying that it is a mere excuse, but the fact is that in 2020 a Twitter user reproached himself for it Elon Musk, whose Tesla company would be one of the main beneficiaries of privileged access to the salt flats, for obvious reasons. Well, the fact is that Elon Musk responded at that time that USA he would hit wherever he wanted, basically.

It is clear that the fixation that the US has with the resources of Latin America does not arise now from the talk of Atlantic CouncilSo it shouldn’t surprise us either. What surprises us is, perhaps, the transparency with which they speak it. In fact, Laura Richardson already referred to the rich resources of Latin America months before, in July, in a talk in Miami. With almost the same words:

“This region is so rich in resources, rare earth elements, lithium, the lithium triangle is in the region. There’s a lot that that region has to offer. We need a strategy. We can’t be here and there. We have There is a series of important elections that are coming up or have just taken place and we have to continue to keep an eye on this region.”

Both in that summer presentation in Miami and in the recent one, he also spoke about the main adversaries of the United States in the region: Russia and China. China is directly referred to as an evil actor.

And obviously he mentioned Russiathat stone in the shoe that they have in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. There is an interesting detail in all that talk that I want to highlight and that should be aware of:

“If I talk about our number two adversary in the region, Russia, I am referring, obviously, to the relations of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, there are six other countries, in total, there are nine countries that have Russian weapons, and we are working to replace that Russian armament for an American one, in those countries that want to donate theirs to Ukraine.”

Attention, “we are working on replacing Russian military equipment with American ones in those countries willing to donate theirs to Ukraine.”

Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, but the one with the most Russian arsenal at its disposal is Peruplunged for more than a month in absolute institutional chaos, protests that have already resulted in more than 60 deaths and a president who refuses to meet the demands of the protesters.

The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milleya veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, who in 2021, during Laura Richardson’s inauguration, said that the Western Hemisphere “belongs to us and no one else, and we stand shoulder to shoulder in that common cause to protect it from any international threat.”

In this sense, any integrating initiative arising from Latin America It is not only good news, but it is necessary news. Latin America needs Latin America to prosper: it needs more sovereignty, more respect and more regional cooperation. A true Latin American integration, without older brothers in the middle, whatever they are called, be it the US, China or Russia.

Latin America it has to be the master of its own destiny without anyone guiding it by interests outside the region, which do not have to coincide, and do not usually do so, with those of the Latin American peoples, as has been demonstrated so many times throughout history. That is why any step towards integration without external interference should be welcome.

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