Elon Musk: remember other times the conservative billionaire tried to interfere in Latin American politics

Besides Brazil, countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Argentina are among those Musk has meddled in domestic politics

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Elon Musk is one of the richest men in the world - Angela Weiss / AFP

On Sunday, conservative billionaire Elon Musk, owner of the social media platform X, joined the list of people being investigated in the ongoing inquiry into anti-democratic digital militias by order of Supreme Court Minister Alexandre de Moraes. “Social media platforms aren’t lawless land! Social media platforms aren’t no man's land,” the minister wrote in capital letters in his decision.

The decision was taken after Musk's attack targeting Moraes on X. In a post on his profile, the billionaire argued that Brazil’s Supreme Court minister should resign or be impeached. "Coming shortly, X will publish everything demanded by @Alexandre and how those requests violate Brazilian law. This judge has brazenly and repeatedly betrayed the constitution and people of Brazil," he posted.

Moraes also decided to open an investigation into the conduct of the billionaire for obstruction of justice and incitement to crime. The minister also ordered X to comply with all the orders of the Brazilian courts and set a fine of BRL100,000 (US$19,860) for each profile it reactivates irregularly. 

This is not the first time Elon Musk has tried to influence the internal affairs of Latin American countries. Besides Brazil, countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina are among those the billionaire has meddled in domestic politics, always seeking to favor conservative and far-right groups or politicians.

“Venezuela has a great wealth of natural resources. If Chávez had not destroyed their economy by increasing the role of government to extreme socialism, the country would be very prosperous,” he posted on his X profile last week.

Defense of the far right and interest in lithium

In 2020, Musk, who wasn’t X’s owner yet, used his previous Twitter profile to openly advocate for a coup in Bolivia: "We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it." The threat was in response to a post sent to the billionaire about his interest in preventing former Bolivian president Evo Morales from remaining in power.

The tweet that provoked Musk read: "You know what people don't want? The US government plotting a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia so you can get lithium there."

On March 12, 2020, Brasil de Fato published the article "Elon Musk, the Tesla factory in Brazil and the conquest of South American lithium", by Vijay Prashad (Indian historian, journalist and editor) and Alejandro Bejarano (Bolivian musician, filmmaker and social media manager). The text discusses Musk's interests in lithium to produce batteries that power Tesla's cars against the backdrop of the dispute that led to the coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia.

In addition to owning the social media platform X, Musk is the founder and main investor in Tesla, Space X, Neuralink, Starlink and OpenAI. His support for far-right governments in Latin America is due to his economic interest in lithium.

The most recent example is his support for Javier Milei's government in Argentina, which, along with Bolivia and Chile, is part of the "Lithium Triangle", with significant reserves of the metal so coveted by the businessman, essential to manufacturing batteries for his electric cars.

"Prosperity is about to arrive in Argentina," he posted following the announcement of Milei's victory in the presidential election. "We have to talk, Elon," Milei replied on X. In an interview with Bloomberg, Argentina's ultra-liberal president said that Musk "will play a leading role in the new Argentina. Starlink is already coming to Argentina." Starlink, which offers satellite internet connection, has operations in Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

Edited by: Rodrigo Durão Coelho