U.S. Southern Command Chief Laura Richardson has expressed interest in lithium and other natural resources in South America. It shows the country’s commitment to corporate profits at the expense of workers, Indigenous people, and the environment.
Laura Richardson, the Chief of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees military operations in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, spoke about the importance of Latin America’s resources for U.S. foreign policy in an interview with the U.S. think tank Atlantic Council.
“Why is this region important?” Richardson asked. “With all its rich resources and rare earth elements, there is the lithium triangle, which today is necessary for technology. Sixty percent of the world’s lithium is found in the lithium triangle: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile.”
She also pointed out that “the largest oil reserves, including light and sweet crude, [were] discovered off Guyana more than a year ago.” The general also mentioned Venezuela’s rich oil, copper, and gold resources. She highlighted the importance of the Amazon as “the lungs of the world,” and added that “we have 31 percent of the world’s fresh water in this region.”
Although these interests in Latin America, as the U.S. military official admits, are nothing new, Richardson’s candidness is glaring. She frames the strategic resources of the region as a matter of “national security” for the United States, for which the country must “step up [its] game” against adversary powers.
Tellingly, at times Richardson uses “we” when she mentions the different resources, making explicit the United States’ looting and plundering of its so-called “backyard.”
These statements are reminiscent of billionaire Elon Musk’s comments when two years ago he tweeted “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.” The tweet was in relation to the military coup in Bolivia in 2019, and revealed the capitalist motivations behind imperialist aggression.
The coup government of Dina Boluarte in Peru and the repression against the struggle in the streets likewise has the objective of securing profits and the plundering of natural resources, especially mining, for multinational companies.
Richardson’s statements also show the concrete objectives of the United States at this stage, with the significant loss of its international hegemony and the emergence of other “poles” of world power, such as China, its greatest geopolitical adversary. The statements are also evidence of the United States and imperialism’s plunder in general, taking and depleting resources while causing irreversible damage to the environment.
Capitalist and imperialist states everywhere are invested to promote coups and violent repression to secure corporate profits at the expense of the working class and the environment.