Bolivia: from "we are presidents" to "Evo or no one"

October 20, 2019 will go down in history as the day on which Evo Morales intends a fourth presidential term in charge of Bolivia, a country that has ruled for approximately 13 years and that with a socialist court, a space has been made in the history as the first indigenous president in a country where 60% of its inhabitants are indigenous.

President of Bolivia, Evo Morales.

President of Bolivia, Evo Morales. / Photo: REUTERS

LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño

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Leer en español: Bolivia: desde "somos presidentes" hasta "Evo o ninguno"

For Bolivia, 'the Evo Morales era' began with the rise to the presidency of a citizen of indigenous, humble and poor origin, a coca grower and, as he has described many times, "one more excluded." That January 22, 2006, he reached the first position of the nation, representing the Movement To Socialism (MAS) with a sweeping vote of more than 50%; that indigenous of the Uru ethnic group, born in Oruro, a small town that did not appear even on the maps of the Andean nation.

Today, Evo Morales is the president who has ruled Bolivia for the longest time and that is, since last August 14, 2018, when he accumulated 4,587 days in the presidential chair, beating Víctor Paz Estenssoro, who ruled towards the middle of the last century . Unlike Morales, his terms were not consecutive.

Having won with the conquest of three presidential elections in 2005, with 54% against 28% of his closest opponent, Jorge Quiroga; in 2009 with 64%, beating Manfred Reyes, who won 26%; and finally in 2014, when he buried with 63% the opponent Samuel Doria who only achieved 24%. Morales has been considered the most successful socialist leader of the present century and although many claim otherwise, the truth is that the citizen's will through democratic decision has accompanied him during these 13 years.


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The figures that support Evo Morales

The figures accompany him, in a country where 60% of its citizens are indigenous and had never had an indigenous ruler, this population complained intensely about the levels of extreme poverty, which reached 38% when Morales arrived at the presidency in 2006. At the end of 2017, that figure contracted to 15.2%, which is less than half of people suffering from the inclemency of extreme poverty in the country.

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Other figures that accompany the cocalero leader is the per capita income of the country. In 2005, before his rise to power, Bolivia showed the figure of USD 1,046.43 and years later, in 2017, the figures tripled and more, reaching USD 3,393.96, which meant that for the first time in the history of his republican life, the majority of Bolivians stopped being poor.

All this has been achieved by applying what their opponents claimed as the safe debacle of the Bolivian economy. Measures such as the nationalization of some companies and the increase in charges that private oil companies must make to the Bolivian state in return for the exploitation of their resources. In 2002, the proportion of profits was frankly disproportionate, the private ones took 82% of the profits making ridiculous payments to the state of only 18%.

When Morales arrived in 2006, he immediately corrected that balance, leaving each of the parties with 50% of the profits of the extractive industry business, which meant the possibility of increasing Bolivian social spending.

What in Latin American neoliberal economies has been classified as "state paternalism", did not have the harmful effects that the opponents announced at the beginning of the "Jefazo" mandate, as Morales Ayma is known. On the contrary, Bolivia's economy has grown in its mandate in such a way that many other countries could envy it, since growing the economy by an average of 5% per year is an unprecedented figure in the country's history if the registered GDP is compared for 2005, of USD 9,549 million with USD 40,288 million reported in 2018 according to World Bank data.

On the issue of illiteracy and life expectancy, the data revealed by the world bank are overwhelming. In 2015, 7.6% of the Bolivian population could not read or write, at the end of 2017, it was 2.52% of its citizens. The life expectancy of Bolivians was 59 years in 2005, but Morales himself reported the age of 72 at the beginning of 2018, despite having admitted several times that health coverage is still an issue in which You must work hard.

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Not everything has been easy

Its only setback at the polls, occurred on February 21, 2016, when a constitutional referendum was held that sought to allow the president and vice president of the Andean nation to be elected for two consecutive periods. The results were adverse to Morales' wishes to the question: “Do you agree with the reform of article 168 of the Political Constitution of the State so that the president or president and the vice president or vice president of the State can be reelected or reelected two sometimes continuously? ” The response of the voters, although the votes were very even, was clear: 51% of the voters said NO and the remaining 49% said YES.

And it is that despite his attempts for a fourth term, he has been rejected by the same people who elected him. Evo managed to step out in a controversial judicial turn that allowed him to participate again and eventually get new reelection through a ruling of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Bolivia (TSE). Towards the end of 2018, the president of the TSE, María Cristina Choque, read a resolution at a press conference, without accepting questions, enabling Morales's candidacy as a candidate for the presidency, accompanied by Álvaro García Linera as his vice-presidential formula. Choque argued that preventing it constituted a violation of the human and political rights of citizen Evo Morales.

In a few days, Bolivia will live one of its most intense electoral days, in which harangues will be heard in favor of the indigenous coca grower and the sector of the town that it represents, which went from chanting “we are presidents” recognizing that for the first time most of the Bolivian population had a representative and a hope in power, to the current shout "evo or none". This supposes strangulation of any new political figure called to replace who has obtained more political, social and economic merits in 13 years than many of his right-wing predecessors in decades and decades.

Not only the traditional opponents of the indigenous leader have criticized his aspirations of perpetuity in power, but also former fighting companions who accompanied him for long years, reproach this attempt by Morales and the way to participate on October 20, 2019, in the elections presidential elections in Bolivia. Anyway, Morales Ayma already has a seat of honor in the history of his country as a leftist leader for more than 13 years.

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