Monday, January 23, 2006

The People´s President

In La Paz, the support for President Evo Morales is overwhelming and the past two days have been filled with fiestas at the Plaza Murillo - location of the Presidential Palace and Congressional Palace.

Miners, indigenous Bolivians and socialists from other parts of Latin America poured into the Plaza Murillo where President Morales was inaugurated. His two-hour inaugural speech delivered before the National Congress was broadcast into the plaza. Occasionally attendees broke into spontaneous applause as Evo spoke about the responsibility of a democratic government without discrimination; a government that showed respect to all peoples regardless of ethnicity or economic status.

Nine Latin American presidents, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Peru´s Alejandro Toledo attended the ceremony.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was the most popular head of state. Whenever Chavez appeared, people in the crowd would chant ¨Chavez, Chavez¨ and ¨Viva Chavez, Viva Venezuela.”

Also present were leaders from Bolivia´s indigenous communities and other Latin American nations. The multi-colored wiphala of the Andean indigenous community flew all over the city – along major avenues and on buildings surrounding the Plaza Murillo and the Plaza San Francisco. Two wiphalas flanked the Bolivian flag on the balconies of the Governmental Palace.

Evo has remained consistent with his representation prior to assuming the presidency. He donned black pants, white shirt and black jacket adorned with a bufanda - a sash-like piece of cloth symbolic of many indigenous communities -but no tie. ¨Look, no cravate,¨ remarked Jose Manuel Matos, a entrepreneur in La Paz who was proud that Evo has not donned the clothing representative of the colonizers.

Bolivians seem genuinely happy that Evo is their president, with street markets and numerous stores closed on Sunday as more than 100,000 people poured into the Plaza San Francisco after the inauguration.

“Usually it´s very boring when it´s a new president because all the guys with suits and ties,” said Gabriel Caprilles, a student at the Catholic University of La Paz. “As you can see most of the people are very happy for this. It´s beautiful all the people."