Former Bolivian President Evo Morales said in an interview Tuesday that he is "absolutely convinced" the United States orchestrated the military coup that removed him from power last month with the goal of exploiting Bolivia's enormous lithium reserves.
Morales told AFP that he believes the U.S. had not "forgiven" him for pursuing lithium partnerships with China and Russia over Washington.
"Transnational companies are behind the coup. The United States, too, because of the lithium issue."
"It was a national and international coup d'etat," said Morales. "I'm absolutely convinced it's a coup against lithium. We as a state had begun industrializing lithium... As a small country of 10 million inhabitants, we were soon going to set the price of lithium. They know we have the greatest lithium reserves in the world of 16,000 square kilometers (over 6,100 square miles)."
U.S. President Donald Trump and officials in his administration have openly and enthusiastically celebrated the coup in Bolivia, but it is not yet clear whether the White House played a direct or indirect role in Morales' ouster, which brought to power a right-wing anti-indigenous government.
Morales was initially granted asylum by Mexico following the coup, but earlier this month he moved to Argentina after that country's leftist leaders granted him refugee status.
The former Bolivian president has been outspoken about the coup and its aftermath since his ouster last month. On Twitter and in interviews, Morales has condemned the interim government of Jeanine Añez for giving the Bolivian military and security forces a blank check to gun down peaceful indigenous protesters.
Morales has also accused the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) of deliberately misleading the public about the results of the November presidential election.
"Luis Almagro deserves to be put on trial for being responsible for so many massacres and deaths in Bolivia," Morales told AFP, referring to the OAS secretary general.
The Tuesday interview with AFP was not the first time Morales has alleged that Bolivia's lithium reserves were a key factor in last month's coup.
"Transnational companies are behind the coup," Morales told The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald in an interview earlier this month. "The United States, too, because of the lithium issue."
Watch the full interview: