WHO IS EVO MORALES?
Evo Morales was elected last year as the FIRST indigenous Bolivian president. He won 54% of the vote – that’s a landslide by Bolivian standards! In previous elections the winners would win about 25 % of the vote in general; they’d then be forced to form coalition governments. So Evo’s margin of victory is totally out of the ordinary. Most of his opponents were discredited. And the electorate wanted real change. Evo is a populist and a neo-marxist. He struck a revolutionary pose as he took his presidential vows by raising his hands with a clenched fist. Prior to the inauguration Morales also participated in a ritual where ancient spirits were invoked. This was of course a clear departure from the norm; Bolivian presidents normally make the sign of cross in this deeply religious (superstitious) country. The times they certainly are a changing!!
Evo is trying to shift Bolivia away from its historic dependence on the US. His friends are anti American folk like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. Prior to his inauguration he traveled to Europe, China and South Africa. The latter would have been a good model for Bolivia in terms of race relations. Many expect Evo to open the floodgates to the pent up demands of the marginalized and the local indigenous people. He has to somehow manage these expectations without alienating the influential multi-national corporations. Also let’s not forget the deep fault lines that run beneath the indigenous and the mestizos – descendents of mixed parentage. Hope that something from Nelson Mandela will rub off on Evo Morales!!
Like him or not Evo and his cabinet are attempting to run Bolivia. Pray for them as they try and meet the competing demands of equity in wealth distribution and economic growth.