Bolivia: Has Evo Morales proven his critics wrong?

Source: Al Jazeera English

Originally published on Sunday, October 12th.

Evo Morales will most likely be re-elected today because he is a better alternative than his neoliberal predecessors and their contemporary counterparts.

Morales’ presidency is historic for a number of reasons. Consider the fact that before the 1952 National Revolution, indigenous people weren’t even allowed to enter the Plaza Murillo in front of the presidential palace because they were believed to be too dirty and unsanitary. Now an indigenous president and poor farmer without a college education sits in the presidential palace itself, and is likely to be re-elected to a third term in office today with a huge wave of support.

Morales’ presidency is also notable when considering his predecessors. For much of the past 30 years, Bolivian heads of state simply massacred workers when they didn’t comply, sold off mineral wealth to foreign corporations while Bolivians remained bound in poverty, and worked closely with Washington to undermine the country’s sovereignty and militarise coca producing regions.

As Bolivians head to the polls, this history will be present as voters reflect on this racist past and Morales’ neoliberal predecessors (and their contemporary counterparts) who, rather than attempting to empower the indigenous and poor majority, typically repressed and exploited them.

In spite of critics from the right and upper classes, Morales’ background has contributed to his popularity, as Bolivia’s poor and indigenous majority identify with him. Indeed, his rise to the presidency is a story of humble beginnings, radical politics and grassroots activism, pointing to some of the reasons he’ll be re-elected today.

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