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Bolivian President Evo Morales: Lithium Is Like a Beautiful Lady

Bolivian President Evo Morales says we are in the midst of a worldwide democratic uprising against imperialism and capitalism. While countries like the United States want to use the International Monetary Fund as an instrument of economic domination, smaller countries like his own are working to take capital out of the hands of the few and spread the wealth more fairly. That's why he has teamed up with noted U.S. adversaries like Cuba's Fidel Castro, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in protest.

In his Big Think interview, Morales says he had hoped that the election of U.S. President Barack Obama would be a positive thing for Bolivia and the world. "I had hope that a discriminated African-American, with another discriminated indigenous peasant leader... I hoped that together we could work for justice and equality," says Morales. But instead, by blaming his country for not fighting hard enough against drug traffickers, Obama "killed" his hopes. Nonetheless, Morales says he has nothing against the American people, many of whom he believes support his policies and beliefs.

Morales also talks about Bolivia's lithium reserves, which are among the greatest in the world, saying the element "is like a beautiful lady, very much sought and pursued." He says that his country's policy is that the state will benefit from this natural resource, which is vital in the production of batteries for electric cars. The government will look to national firms to mine the element, he says, but if local companies can't do it, then the state will allow private companies to invest—with the understanding that their profits would mainly go to the Bolivian people. He also says that it is not a contradiction to say that he is an environmentalist even as his country's economy becomes more and more dependent on extraction of natural resources.

With Bolivia's newly adopted constitution, the country no longer has Catholicism as a national religion, and has instead declared itself a secular state. Morales says that the move is actually related to religious freedom, and a recognition of the country's indigenous religions. He also says he has become convinced that the leaders of the Catholic Church are defending a system of oligarchy that is hurtful to the Bolivian people.

Ultimately, Morales says, the rest the world will rise up against capitalism "because capitalism is not even the solution to capitalism itself. Capitalism is destroying Mother Earth, and to destroy Mother Earth is to destroy humanity."

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