Saturday, January 24, 2009

Evo Morales Starts Third Year


LA PAZ–(digitalwarriormedia) On the third-year anniversary of his inauguration as president of Bolivia, Evo Morales spent Thursday making a case for his administration and closing the national campaign for the constitutional referendum vote on January 25.

Morales began the day by launching a new state-run newspaper, Cambio (Change), before delivering a four-hour address in front of the National Congress.

Some of the highlights of his speech included the increase of Bolivia’s monetary reserves from $800 million upon his election in 2005 to more than $8 billion in 2008, due to the nationalization of Bolivia’s hydrocarbon sector (and also the fortune of record high commodity prices).

The increase in reserves has enabled Bolivia to finance a national literacy campaign, improve health services and provide entitlement payments to the elderly and school-aged children.
Outside the Congressional building, where Morales’ address was broadcast on loud speakers, Plaza Murillo was filled with supporters holding up compact copies of the new constitution and “Si” signs.

Then it was on to Cochabamba where the president flew to close the campaign in that department as 25,000 people attended the massive event, according to reporting by Erin Rosa in Narco News.

Upon Morales’ return to La Paz in the evening, thousands upon thousands filled Plaza Murillo to capacity as the campaign for the constitutional referendum officially came to a close in the nation’s capital.

The crowd danced along to music performances representing the different regions of Bolivia before Morales spoke. In his speech, Bolivia’s first indigenous leader said the musical interpretations are representations of Bolivia’s plurinational society that includes many cultures.

He defended the constitution as a document that will recognize all Bolivians and dismissed opposition claims that the new national charter would elevate indigenous people above non-indigenous Bolivians.

Support for the document is strong here in La Paz and it is widely expected that the constitutional referendum will pass nationally despite the possibility that opposition to the Morales administration is strong in four of Bolivia’s nine departments.

A majority vote of “Si” will mark a major turning point, not only for Bolivia but for Morales’ Movement towards Socialism (MAS) party. It will re-energize Morales’ base but its passage also begs the question – what awaits on Bolivia’s horizon?

“It’s going to be a long time before they are able to make the constitution real in the lives of everyday Bolivians,” explained Jean Friedman-Rudovsky of Ukhampacha Bolivia about the government’s implementation of new rights guaranteed in the constitution such as the right to health care, water and basic services.

“While certainly almost every indigenous person that I’ve talked to feels like it is a big step forward, I think everyone realizes that it is a step forward that doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to wake up Monday morning with anything different in their lives.”



Photos: Digital Warrior Media








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