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Bolivia, the Evo Morales years

At the presidential palace, Evo Morales receives the credentials of the new British ambassador, on July 3, 2019 in La Paz.
At the presidential palace, Evo Morales receives the credentials of the new British ambassador, on July 3, 2019 in La Paz. David Gormezano.

Despite his fellow citizens voting "no" to a constitutional amendment in a 2016 referendum, Bolivian President Evo Morales is on track to win a fourth consecutive term at the helm of his country. He is seen as a demi-god by some, a tyrant by others. In this report from Bolivia, FRANCE 24 takes stock of the Morales years.

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On October 20, Evo Morales will once again go before Bolivia’s voters. In this small Andean country of 11 million inhabitants, the 2005 election of Morales, an Aymara Indian, on a platform of revolutionary Socialism had raised many fears but also hopes.

Thirteen years later, Morales is running for a fourth term defending a positive economic record: GDP has been multiplied by three and the poverty rate halved.

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His political discourse has changed little over the years, the main themes being anti-imperialism and defence of "Mother Earth", the fight against poverty and the defence of the rights of indigenous people. And yet, Morales’s style of power has been highly pragmatic. For instance, he took advantage of the nationalisation of oil and gas to initiate key social reforms and major infrastructure works. As Bolivia's first "Indian" president, he remains popular, although his early supporters believe he has gone back on his commitments.

Morales is a complex character. For some, he’s an autocrat, as demonstrated by his forcing through the bid to run for a new term. For others, he’s the great reformer of a country still marked by the military dictatorship and discrimination faced by the indigenous majority.

Finally, after the death of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, the jailing of Brazil’s Lula, the end of the presidencies of the Kirchners in Argentina and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Morales is the last remaining hero of the Latin American left that came to power in the 2000s.

 

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