Líder anti EE.UU. asumirá el poder en Bolivia

LA PAZ – Five centuries of white rule came to a dramatic end in Bolivia with the election of the country’s first indigenous head of state in Sunday’s election.
Evo Morales, of the anti-capitalist Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, won more than 50 percent of the vote, far outstripping all predictions. He gained an unprecedented first round victory, beating his nearest rival, the pro-U.S. candidate Jorge Quiroga, by more than 20 points.
Addressing Bolivia’s main indigenous groups during his acceptance speech, Señor Morales, who is an Aymaran Indian, said: “I want to say to the Aymaras, Quechuas, Guaranies and Chiriguanos that for the first time we are going to be president.”
Thousands of MAS supporters took to the street to celebrate. Señor Quiroga, a former IBM executive, conceded defeat once it be-came clear that the margin of Senor Morales’s victory was such that the traditional parties would be unable to overturn it by a vote in Congress. In Bolivia, if no candidate passes 50 percent plus one vote in the first round, the decision passes to Congress.
Señor Morales built his campaign on a promise to break the power of the traditional European elite, which has run Bolivia since independence from Spain in 1825 and is accused by much of the population of ransacking the country’s vast mineral wealth while leaving its people among the poorest in South America.
Señor Morales has pledged to abandon the country’s capitalist path and instead nationalize its huge gas reserves and call a constitutional assembly to write a new constitution that will reflect the indigenous majority.
Ethnic Aymara and Quechua people make up a majority of the 9.3 million population.
He has also promised to ally Bo-livia with other regional left-wing leaders such, as presidents Chávez of Venezuela and Castro of Cuba.
Señor Chávez was one of the first to call and congratulate Señor Morales, whose victory continues Latin America’s shift to the Left.
The outcome of the election will be closely observed in neighboring Peru, which is due to vote for a new president in April.
Ollanta Humala, a nationalistic former army officer, has made strong progress in opinion polls there by appealing to the country’s indigenous majority.
Señor Morales is a former leader of a coca-growers union and has promised to legalize the cultivation of coca – the primary ingredient in cocaine – much to the horror of the U.S., which has undertaken a large-scale coca eradication effort in Bolivia in recent years. Bolivia is the world’s third largest producer of cocaine.
The result was an emphatic victory for Señor Morales who becomes the first presidential candidate to win more than 50 percent of the vote since the return of democracy in 1982.
In increasing his vote from 20 per- cent to more than 50 percent since the last presidential elections in 2002, Señor Morales reached out to many sectors beyond the poor indigenous voters who form his party’s base.
In La Paz’ well-off middle class neighborhood of Sopocachi, many white voters said that they were voting for Señor Morales for the first time because they had also lost faith in the traditional political class.
“For 180 years since independence we have been governed by ‘the gentlemen’ and what did we get? Nothing!” said Gabriella Sán-chez, a first-time MAS voter.
MAS performed less well than its leader in several other races decided on Sunday. The party is likely to be a minority in the Senate and will struggle to form a majority in the lower house.
But the most significant source of confrontation in a country that has seen an almost total absence of dialogue between the increasingly radicalized poor majority and the small but powerful elite could be the flight of capital. Fewer than 4,000 people control 80 percent of all deposits.
Gilberto Hurtado, a development economist, said: “The financial system doesn’t share Evo’s vision and you cannot be president without a financial system.”
By Tom Hennigan
The Times of London

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