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Montevideo, May 19th 2024 - 07:47 UTC



Bolivia: Former YLB executive found dead left letter denying allegations

Thursday, April 25th 2024 - 13:31 UTC
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“I am innocent,” wrote the former lithium executive who pointed fingers at the current administration for its underachievements in the area “I am innocent,” wrote the former lithium executive who pointed fingers at the current administration for its underachievements in the area

Former Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) Executive Manager Juan Carlos Montenegro Bravo was found dead Wednesday. He left a letter explaining that he would make a painful decision because he could not stand to be “humiliated by a rigged justice.”

Montenegro was among those charged in the evaporation ponds case, which were built to industrialize lithium in the Uyuni salt flats, but are now the subject of a criminal investigation for alleged economic damage to the State. His death was confirmed by Teresa Morales, a former member of President Evo Morales' cabinet. In his letter, Montenegro said that those who started the lithium project in Bolivia were now being victims of abuse.

“My limpid academic and professional trajectory cannot be dented with this type of outrage and I will not allow myself to be humiliated by a rigged justice system that sells itself to political power or to the highest bidder. I cannot allow it,” he wrote.

“I apologize to my loved ones for the pain that this decision will surely cause them, but I also do it for them,” he added while claiming that the case against him sought to hide the “resounding failure” of the strategy assumed by the current Government of Luis Arce Catacora to bet on the direct extraction of lithium (EDL). Since 2021 the authorities needed to conclude the evaporation ponds, but they just “abandoned them by adopting the false illusion of EDL, as a supposedly fast alternative to produce large volumes, there was even talk of reaching 100,000 tons of lithium carbonate by 2025.”

Montenegro also argued that “they realized that large industrial plants via EDL are not yet viable and realized, belatedly, that only small pilot plants, which to date do not exist, could be viable. This is the true dimension of what they are trying to hide.”

Hence, the criminal proceeding was intended to incriminate him and Luis Alberto Echazú for acts of corruption but they both have “a deep revolutionary commitment and an honest trajectory on the side of the workers.”

“I am innocent,” he insisted.

Evo Morales said on social media that Arce Catacora was responsible for Montenegro's death and expressed his “deepest condolences for the death of brother Juan Carlos Montenegro Bravo, who was Executive Manager of Yacimientos del Litio Boliviano and victim of political persecution.”

“The failure of the industrialization of lithium by the National Government not only generates the illegal and abusive detention of honest professionals but the death of brothers who could continue contributing to the growth of our beloved Bolivia,” he went on while also blaming Vice President David Choquehuanca for Montenegro's passing.

“The government plan of Lucho and David to hide the failure of their strategy in the direct extraction of lithium is causing tragedies like the one we are experiencing today with brother Montenegro and it is their responsibility,” Evo insisted.

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