Sunday, December 06, 2009

Bolivia: victory for Morales

Good news. I see Evo Morales, the first democratically elected indigenous President of Bolivia, has been re-elected for his second term. The vote was around 61% far outstripping his right-wing, racist rivals - at least one of whom is awaiting trial for political murders.

As leader of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) he's seen some extra-ordinary opposition to his plans for addressing social inequality in Bolivia including shocking plans like actually taxing foreign companies that mine gas and other resources (gasp), or building schools and clinics in rural areas (shock).

Morales came to power on the back of a vast protest movement that had overthrown President after President in Bolivia. In that election, in 2005, he received 53% of the vote and, if I remember correctly, this was the first time a Presidential candidate had ever received more than half the vote in the first round of the elections, meaning there was no need for a run off between the top two candidates. To increase that historic lead makes this even more impressive.

Once again the indigenous dominated West of the country voted for Morales with La Paz peaking at 73% and in the richer East MAS was the second party. The senatorial elections held at the same time, which take place under a first past the post system, saw MAS win just under 70% of the seats.

It's not surprising Evo won when schemes like the Juanito Pinto, a bit like the first form of child benefit Bolivia has ever seen and the MAS government's hard line stance on purging the police of corrupt officers the government has been extremely popular with the many, despite the fact that these reforms have all been conducted against the extreme hostility on the part of the rich, white land owning elites.

Years of enrolling indigenous people onto the electoral register saw the total numbers eligible to vote rise from 3.6 million in 2005 to 5.1 million today. Today is a real victory for the Bolivian people. Hurray!

Update: My piece in the Morning Star on same topic - more detail.


ModernityBlog said...

Good news, but why does he insist on meeting that awful racist, Ahmadinejad ?

Locojhon said...

Perhaps because he doesn't conduct his foreign policy with threats, bribes or bombs, like the USA does?
Just a thought,,,

Strategist said...

"Good news, but why does he insist on meeting that awful racist, Ahmadinejad?"

A comment entirely divorced from what the situation demands when you're in El Alto.

When you're taking on US hegemony, and they're putting the heat on, you feel like you need all the friends you can get.

Jim Jay said...

It's shameful that Gordon Brown has not had a face to face meeting with the Iranian President. A bit more diplomacy and a few less gun boats would make the world a much better place.

Having said that the events in Bolivia are nothing to do with Iran and I don't want to derail the thread by discussion on the middle east, which is far less interesting. There are plenty of places for that.

The US removed Bolivia's preferred trading partner arrangements and so the government, in a very responsible way, has thrown the net wider when looking for economic investment.

The biggest investors in Bolivia over the last few years have been India and China and the economy has been steadily growing whilst everyone tied to the US has been disappearing down the plug hole, so Bush did them a favour by cutting them out of the loop just before the financial collapse.

It's incredible how Bolivia has paid off their debt, increased the amount of foreign investment *and* rebuilt infrastructure started a welfare state and seen the economy become extremely healthy.

Funny that, it seems that privatisation and doing everything the multi-nationals wants doesn't actually work as well.

ModernityBlog said...

Yeah righto, let's not discuss Ahmadinejad's racism that might confuse people? Hmm.

Wrong type of racism eh?

To echo Pilger's words, cannot afford to be choosy?

Jim Jay said...

Bolivia is a place in its own right, it actually has very little to do with Iran and the Bolivian election deserves to be discussed without it becoming somehow about the Iranian regime.

If I'm discussing Gordon Brown on the economy or benefits or whatever I don't always bring it down to the friendly relationship he has with the Saudi regime do I? No, because that would be taking away from the story not adding to it