Evo Morales

Evo Morales

Overview
Juan Evo Morales Ayma popularly known as Evo (ˈeβo), is a Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

n politician and activist, currently serving as the 80th President of Bolivia
President of Bolivia
The President of Bolivia is head of state and head of government of Bolivia. According to the current Constitution, the president is elected by popular vote to a five year term, renewable once...

, a position that he has held since 2006. He is also the leader of both the Movement for Socialism party (MAS) and the cocalero
Cocalero
Cocaleros are the coca leaf growers of Peru and Bolivia. Evo Morales, who became president of Bolivia in 2006, is a leader of the cocalero movement in that country.-Cocalero movement:...

trade union. Politically a socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, his presidency has seen a focus on implementing leftist policies in the country, introducing a new constitution, land reforms, nationalising various key industries and opposing United States and corporate involvement in the country's politics.

Born into a working class Aymara family in Isallawi, Orinoca Canton, Evo grew up aiding his parents as a subsistence farmer.
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Quotations

"Now see him very fat and little anti-imperialist. It is my concern on my colleague Alan Garcia"

Press conference

Friends, we have now won. ...I say to Aymara|Aymaras, Quechua|Quechuas, Chiquitao|Chiquitaos, and Guarani|Guaranis: for the first time we [indigenous people] are going to be presidents. And I want to say to businesses, intellectual professionals, and artists: do not abandon us.

18 Dec 2005 in Cochabamba,zdfbzfdg Socialismo], as quoted by Spanish Wikiquote.

Cuba is a democracy.

Interview with reporter:
Encyclopedia
Juan Evo Morales Ayma popularly known as Evo (ˈeβo), is a Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

n politician and activist, currently serving as the 80th President of Bolivia
President of Bolivia
The President of Bolivia is head of state and head of government of Bolivia. According to the current Constitution, the president is elected by popular vote to a five year term, renewable once...

, a position that he has held since 2006. He is also the leader of both the Movement for Socialism party (MAS) and the cocalero
Cocalero
Cocaleros are the coca leaf growers of Peru and Bolivia. Evo Morales, who became president of Bolivia in 2006, is a leader of the cocalero movement in that country.-Cocalero movement:...

trade union. Politically a socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, his presidency has seen a focus on implementing leftist policies in the country, introducing a new constitution, land reforms, nationalising various key industries and opposing United States and corporate involvement in the country's politics.

Born into a working class Aymara family in Isallawi, Orinoca Canton, Evo grew up aiding his parents as a subsistence farmer. After studying for a degree, Morales undertook national service until 1978, when he returned to the family profession of farming, moving with them to Chapare Province
Chapare Province
Chapare, also called The Chapare and is pronounced Cha-pa-reh, is a rural province in the northern region of Cochabamba Department in central Bolivia. The majority of the territory consists of valley rainforests that surround the area's main waterway, the Chapare River, which is also a tributary of...

. He eventually settled into growing coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

, becoming actively involved in the coca growers' trade union, the cocalero movement. Becoming a well known activist amongst the campesinos (rural laborers), he was known for leading the resistance against the U.S. government's attempts to eradicate coca
Coca eradication
Coca eradication is a controversial strategy strongly promoted by the United States government starting in 1961 as part of its "War on Drugs" to eliminate the cultivation of coca, a plant whose leaves are not only traditionally used by indigenous cultures but also, in modern society, in the...

 as a part of their wider "War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

".

His activism led him into the political arena, and he eventually became the leader of the MAS, through which he got involved in social protests like the gas conflict and the Cochabamba protests of 2000. The MAS aimed at giving more power to the country's indigenous and poor communities by means of land reforms and redistribution of gas wealth, and gradually increased its electoral support.

Morales was first elected President of Bolivia on December 18, 2005, with 53.7% of the popular vote. Two and a half years later he substantially increased this majority; in a recall referendum on August 14, 2008, more than two thirds of voters voted to keep him in office. Morales won presidential elections again in December 2009 with 63% and continued to his second term of presidency.

A critic of the United States' foreign policy and the involvement of transnational corporations in Latin America, he has been a firm ally of the socialist governments of Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

 in Venezuela and Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 in Cuba. In October 2009, Morales was named "World Hero of Mother Earth" by the General Assembly of the United Nations
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

.

Childhood and education: 1959-1977


Morales was born in Isallawi village, an impoverished rural community of around thirty houses scattered over an area of 4 square kilometres in Orinoca Canton, a part of the Oruro Department
Oruro Department
Oruro is a department in Bolivia, with an area of 53,588 km². Its capital is the city of Oruro. At the time of census 2001 it had a population of 391,870.- Provinces of Oruro :...

 in western Bolivia, on 26 October 1959. He was one of seven children born to Dionisio Morales Choque and Maria Mamani; however, only Morales and two of his siblings, Esther and Hugo, survived past childhood. Indeed, his mother suffered a postpartum haemorrhage after giving birth to him, almost dying due to the absence of any doctors or midwives in the village. Ethnically a mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

 and thereby being of both European and Native American heritage, much of his ancestry came from the indigenous Aymara people, and in keeping with Aymara custom, his father buried the placenta
Placenta
The placenta is an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply. "True" placentas are a defining characteristic of eutherian or "placental" mammals, but are also found in some snakes and...

 produced after his birth in a place specially chosen for the occasion. He grew up speaking the Aymara language
Aymara language
Aymara is an Aymaran language spoken by the Aymara people of the Andes. It is one of only a handful of Native American languages with over three million speakers. Aymara, along with Quechua and Spanish, is an official language of Peru and Bolivia...

, although later commentators would remark that by the time he had become president he was no longer an entirely fluent speaker, something some critics would use against him.

Morales' family were subsistence farmers, and from an early age he took part in his parents' work, aiding in planting and harvesting crops and guarding their herd of llamas and sheep, always taking a homemade soccer ball with him to amuse himself. His home was an adobe
Adobe
Adobe is a natural building material made from sand, clay, water, and some kind of fibrous or organic material , which the builders shape into bricks using frames and dry in the sun. Adobe buildings are similar to cob and mudbrick buildings. Adobe structures are extremely durable, and account for...

 house with a dirt floor and straw roof, in keeping with Aymara cultural style. As a toddler, he briefly attended the preparatory school in Orinoca, although aged five he began schooling at the primary school in his home village, which consisted of a single room in which children of all ages were taught. Aged six, he travelled with his sister and father to northern Argentina for six months where his father worked harvesting sugar cane, and Evo himself sold ice cream as well as briefly attending school, but speaking only Aymara he had difficulty understanding the lessons, which were taught in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, and he was forced to leave. As a child, he would also regularly travel by foot to Arani province
Arani Province
Arani is a province in Cochabamba Department, Bolivia. Its capital is Arani, situated about 53 km from Cochabamba. Arani is known for its bread but also for the town's artisan wickerwork.- Subdivision :...

 in Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

 with his father and their llamas, a journey lasting up to two weeks, in order to exchange their salt and potatoes for maize and coca. A big fan of soccer, aged 13 he organised a community soccer team, 'The Fraternity', with himself as team captain. Within two years, he had been elected to the position of training coach for the whole region, gaining early experience with leadership.

After finishing primary education, Morales attended the Agrarian Humanistic Technical Institute of Orinoca (ITAHO), completing all but the final year. That year, his parents then sent him to study for a degree in Oruro
Oruro, Bolivia
Oruro is a city in Bolivia with a population of 235,393 , located about equidistant between La Paz and Sucre at approximately 3710 meters above sea level. It is the capital of the department of Oruro....

, where, although not exceeding academically, he finished all of his courses and exams by 1977, meanwhile earning money on the side as a brick-maker, day labourer, baker and a trumpet player for the Royal Imperial Band, the latter of which allowed him to travel across Bolivia. However, at the end of his higher education he failed to collect his degree certificate, probably because of the expense that this would have entailed; in Bolivia, obtaining a "certificate for completed studies" was "a very costly and time-consuming affair." Although he had an interest in going on to study journalism at university, his parents were unable to afford to support him in this venture, preventing him from entering this profession.

Military service and El Chapare: 1978-1981


At the time, the Bolivian government instituted mandatory conscription into the army, and so Morales had to serve in the armed forces between 1977 and 1978. He had initially signed up at the Centre for Instruction of Special Troops (CITE) in Cochabamba, but was instead sent into the 4th Ingavi Cavalry Regiment and stationed at the army headquarters in Bolivia's administrative capital La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

 to undertake his military service. These two years saw "one of Bolivia's politically most unstable periods", with five presidents and two military coups, led by General Juan Pereda
Juan Pereda
Juan Pereda Asbún is a former military general and de facto president of Bolivia . Although he ruled for only four months, his ascent to the presidency marked the beginning of the most unstable period in Bolivian history, with nine presidents in a little over 4 years , in comparison to only one in...

 and General David Padilla
David Padilla
David Padilla Arancibia was a military general and former de facto president of Bolivia. He ruled his country from November 1978 to August 1979....

 respectively. It was under the regime of the latter that Morales was stationed as a guard at the Palacio Quemado
Palacio Quemado
The Palacio Quemado is a popular name to denote the Bolivian Palace of Government, located on Plaza Murillo in downtown La Paz. It is the building from which the Bolivian executive conducts its business.The building has had many incarnations...

, or Presidential Palace.
At the end of his military service, Evo returned to his family, who had decided to move from Isallawi, where they had lived for four generations, and set up a new home in the Tropics of Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

, located in the eastern Bolivian lowlands; this was brought about after the Orinoca communities had been hit by the El Niño
El Niño-Southern Oscillation
El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is a quasiperiodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean roughly every five years...

storm cycle in 1980, which decimated the region's agriculture. In doing so, the Morales family were following in an Andean tradition that had been practiced since at least the time of the Inca Empire
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

, that of moving between the different climatic zones in order to diversify their livelihoods; according to Andean tradition, the family ayllu, being a discontinuous territory, would move with them, but retain links to Isallawi. Setting up a new home in the town of Villa 14 de Septiembre, El Chapare
Chapare Province
Chapare, also called The Chapare and is pronounced Cha-pa-reh, is a rural province in the northern region of Cochabamba Department in central Bolivia. The majority of the territory consists of valley rainforests that surround the area's main waterway, the Chapare River, which is also a tributary of...

 with the help of a loan from Evo's maternal uncle, the Morales family cleared a plot of land in the semi-tropical forest, and proceeded to grow such crops as rice, oranges, grapefruit, papaya, bananas and later on also coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

. The arrival of the Morales family was a part of a much wider migration to the region, with many Bolivians hoping to set up farms where they could earn a living growing coca, a crop which was experiencing a steady rise in price and which could be cultivated up to four times a year; in 1981 El Chapare's population was 40,000 but by 1988 it had risen to 215,000.

In his new home, Evo got to know the local community by joining their soccer team, before going on to found his own team, named New Horizon, who proved victorious at the August 2nd Central Tournament. The El Chapare region would remain special to Evo for many years to come, for during his presidency he would often talk about it in public speeches and would return there whenever possible, frequenting one of three "locally renowned" fish restaurants for one of his favourite dishes, surubí.

Entering the cocalero union: 1981-1983


It was in El Chapare that Evo joined a cocalero trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 of local coca growers, first getting involved in political activism. The local union syndicate had been responsible for building not only several roads and the local school, but also the soccer field, and Evo, known for his love of soccer, was appointed to be their Secretary of Sports, whose job it was to help organize tournaments. Amongst union members, he would even earn the nickname of "the young ball player" because of his tendency to bring a soccer ball to union meetings, organising a match during recess. Despite entering the union through sport, he had been influenced in joining it by wider events; in 1980, the far-right General Luis García Meza seized power in a military coup, banned other political parties and subsequently declared himself president in what observers widely declared a dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

. With high levels of government corruption and involvement in illegal cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 trafficking, the new president's administration was marked by human rights abuses, and for Evo, a "foundational event in his relationship with politics" occurred in 1981, when a campesino (coca grower) was accused of being a cocaine trafficker by drunken soldiers, who proceeded to beat him up, spray him with gasoline and then burn him to death.
Further political instability rocked the nation when Luis García Meza was forced to resign, and in 1982 the left wing Democratic and Popular Union (Unidad Democrática y Popular - UDP) took power in representative democratic
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 elections, with Hernán Siles Zuazo
Hernán Siles Zuazo
Hernán Siles Zuazo was a politician from Bolivia. He served as his country's constitutionally elected president twice, from 1956 to 1960 and again from 1982 to 1985....

 becoming president. However, with the Bolivian economy in crises, the UDP bowed to U.S. government pressure and implemented a series of right wing neoliberal capitalist
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 reforms to the economy, cutting back the state sector and opening the country up to foreign corporations who would privatise the state companies over the following years. The reforms brought hyperinflation under control, but led to rocketing unemployment which reached 25%. The U.S. government then ordered further intervention in Bolivia as a part of their War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

 to destroy the illegal narcotics trade; as U.S. President George H.W. Bush proclaimed, "The fastest and cheapest way to eliminate narcotic trafficking is at its source... We need to do away with the plantations where they grow". Because coca was one ingredient in the production of cocaine, the U.S. sent their own armed forces into El Chapare in order to aid the Bolivian authorities in halting its production.

In 1983, Evo's father Dionisio died, and so he temporarily retreated from his work with the cocalero syndicate to focus on organising his father's affairs. However, the increasing U.S. involvement in El Chapare with the tacit support of the Bolivian government angered Evo, who returned to campaigning on behalf of the coca growers. Like many of his comrades, he refused the $2,500 compensation offered by the government for each acre of coca that he eradicated; deeply embedded in Bolivian culture, the campesinos had an ancestral relationship with the coca leaf and did not want to lose their most profitable means of subsistence. For them, it was also an issue of national sovereignty, with the U.S. being viewed as invading imperalists
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 who had no right to force Bolivian farmers to do their bidding, with activists regularly proclaiming "Long live coca! Death to the Yankees!" ("Causachun coca! Wañuchun yanquis!"). From 1982 to 1983, Evo served as the General Secretary of his local San Francisco syndicate, before serving as Secretary of Records from 1984 to 1985, and then General Secretary of the August 2nd Headquarters in 1985.

General Secretary of the Cocalero Union: 1985-1994


By 1985, Morales was elected general secretary in a union of coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

 farmers and by 1988 was elected executive secretary of the Tropics Federation. He retains this position to this day, even while serving as president of Bolivia. Around this time the Bolivian government, encouraged by the US, began a program to eradicate most coca production. By 1996 Morales was made president of the Coordinating Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

. Morales was among those opposing the government's position on coca and lobbied for a different policy. This opposition often resulted in him being jailed and in an incident in 1989, beaten near to death by UMOPAR
UMOPAR
The Unidad Móvil Policial para Áreas Rurales , a subsidiary of the Special Antinarcotics Force of the Bolivian National Police was created in 1987 and is a Bolivian anti-narcotics and counterinsurgency force which was founded by, and is funded, advised,...

 forces (who, assuming he had been slain, dumped his unconscious body in the bushes where it was discovered by his colleagues).

In his speeches, Morales presented the coca leaf as a symbol of Andean culture that was under threat of extinction from the imperialist oppression of western culture, in particular that of the U.S. In his view, it was the problem of the U.S. to deal with their own domestic problem of drug abuse, and that they had no right trying to eliminate coca, a legitimate product with many uses and a rich role to play in Andean culture. Furthermore, he presented the coca growers themselves as victims of a wealthy, urban social elite, who had bowed to U.S. pressure in implementing neoliberal economic reforms to the detriment of the majority of Bolivians, in this way arguing that the representative democratic system in Bolivia failed to reflect the true democratic will of the majority.

Morales soon led a 600 km march from Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

 to the Bolivian capital La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

. While they were often attacked by law enforcement officers, they managed to proceed by sneaking around their control posts. They were often greeted by supporters who gave the marchers drink, food, clothes and shoes. They were greeted with cheers by supporters in La Paz and the government was forced to negotiate an accord with them. After the marchers returned home, the government reneged on the deal and sent forces to harass them. According to Morales during this time in 1997 a United States Drug Enforcement Agency helicopter strafed farmers with automatic rifle
Automatic rifle
Automatic rifle is a term generally used to describe a semi-automatic rifle chambered for a rifle cartridge, capable of delivering both semi- and full automatic fire...

 fire, killing five of his supporters. He has also recounted how he was grazed by assassin
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

s' bullets in Villa Tunari
Villa Tunari
Villa Tunari or Tunari is a location in the department of Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is the seat of the Villa Tunari Municipality, the third municipal section of the Chapare Province. At the time of census 2001 it had a population of 2,510....

 in 2000. He was recognized in 1996 by an international coalition against the "War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

". Morales then found an audience in Europe for his positions and traveled there to gain support and to educate people on the differences between coca leaves and cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

. In a speech on this issue, he told reporters "I am not a drug trafficker. I am a coca grower. I cultivate coca leaf, which is a natural product. I do not refine (it into) cocaine, and neither cocaine nor drugs have ever been part of the Andean culture."

The ASP, IPSP and MAS: 1995-1999


Members of the sindicato social movement first began suggesting that they move into the political arena in 1986. This suggestion brought much disagreement, with many fearing that a move into politics would lead the social movement to be co-opted for personal gain by politicians, who were widely mistrusted by the activists. Evo Morales began supporting the formation of a political wing in 1989, although a consensus in favor of its formation only emerged in 1993. On March 27, 1995, at the seventh congress of the Unique Confederation of Rural Laborers of Bolivia (Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia - CSUTCB), such a "political instrument" - a term intentionally employed over "political party" - was finally founded, named the Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples
Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples
The Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples was a political organization in Bolivia. It was formed as a "political instrument" of the popular movements of the country. Alejo Véliz was the national president of ASP.-History:...

 (Asamblea por la Sobernía de los Pueblos - ASP). The ASP soon held its first congress, at which the CSUTCB participated along with three other Bolivian unions, the FNMB, CSCB and CIDOB, representing miners, peasants and indigenous peoples respectively.

Nonetheless, the National Electoral Court
National Electoral Court of Bolivia
The National Electoral Court was the government-appointed court which oversaw elections and electoral results at all levels of Bolivian government from 1956 to 2010, and supervised nine Departmental Electoral Courts in each department...

 (Corte Nacional Electoral - CNE) prevented Morales or any of his fellow activists running for political office under the ASP banner by refusing to recognize it, citing minor procedural infringements. The coca activists circumvented this problem by instead running under the banner of the United Left
United Left (Bolivia)
The United Left was a political coalition in Bolivia. IU was launched ahead of the 1989 national elections, as a successor of the United People's Front...

 (IU), a coalition of leftist parties that had been founded in 1988 and which was headed by the Communist Party of Bolivia
Communist Party of Bolivia
The Communist Party of Bolivia is a communist party in Bolivia. It was founded in 1950 by Raúl Ruiz González and other former members of the Revolutionary Left Party . It remained small and did not hold its first national party congress until 1959....

 (Partido Comunista Boliviano - PCB). They went on to win landslide victories in those areas which were local strongholds of the movement, producing 11 mayors and 49 municipal councilors. In the subsequent national elections of 1997
Bolivian legislative election, 1997
Bolivia held a general election on 1 June 1997, electing both a new President of the Republic and a new National Congress, 1997–2002.- Congressional Elections results :- Chamber of Deputies :- Chamber of Senators :...

, the IU/ASP gained four seats in Congress, obtaining 3.7% of the national vote, with this rising to 17.5% in the department of Cochabamba. Morales was among the four activists elected to Congress, representing the provinces of Chapare and Carrasco, and carrying 70% of the votes in his electoral district.
Rising electoral success was accompanied by factional in-fighting, with a leadership contest emerging in the ASP between the incumbent Alejo Véliz
Alejo Véliz
Alejo Véliz Lazo is a Bolivian politician and activist. He is a member of the ASP party. Véliz is a former executive secretary of the Federación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Cochabamba , and former Secretary General of the Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de...

 and Evo Morales, who had the electoral backing of the social movement's bases. Morales and his supporters subsequently split from Véliz and the ASP and formed their own party, the Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (Instrumento Político por la Soberanía de los Pueblos - IPSP). The movement's bases soon defected en masse to the IPSP, leaving the ASP to crumble and Véliz to join the centre-right New Republican Force
New Republican Force
The New Republican Force is a center-right personalist political party in Bolivia.At the legislative elections in 2002, the party won 26.5 % of the popular vote and 25 out of 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and two out of 27 seats in the Senate...

 (Nueva Fuerza Republicana - NFR), for which Morales denounced him as a traitor.

In an attempt to prevent the coca activists entering the elections, the CNE once more refused the registration of the IPSP and then annulled the electoral licence of the IU. Attempting to find a way around these restrictions, Morales came to an agreement with David Añez Pedraza, the leader of a defunct yet still registered right wing party named the Movement for Socialism (MAS); under this agreement, Morales and the Six Federaciónes could take over the party name, with Pendraza stipulating the condition that they must maintain its own acronym, name and colors. Thus the defunct right wing MAS became the flourishing left wing vehicle for the coca activist movement known as the Movement for Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples. The MAS is described as "an indigenous-based political party that calls for the nationalization of industry, legalization of the coca leaf … and fairer distribution of national resources."

Morales and the MAS went on to contest the local elections of December 5, 1999
Bolivian municipal election, 1999
Municipal elections were held in Bolivia, on December 5, 1999, in all 311 municipalities across the country. The elections marked a milestone in the continuous deterioration of the political influence of the traditional parties...

.

Expulsion from Congress


While Morales was a Member of Congress, the governments of Hugo Banzer
Hugo Banzer
Hugo Banzer Suárez was a politician, military general, dictator and President of Bolivia. He held the Bolivian presidency twice: from August 22, 1971 to July 21, 1978, as a dictator; and then again from August 6, 1997 to August 7, 2001, as constitutional President.-Military and ideological...

 and Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Fernando "Tuto" Quiroga Ramírez was President of Bolivia from August 7, 2001 to August 6, 2002. He is of Spanish descent.-Background and early life:...

 broadened the eradication campaign through Plan Dignidad. The coca producing region of Chapare which Morales represented was beset with hundreds of police and military officers who were seen by Morales as "committing an innumerable amount of abuses and assassinations which violated the most basic human rights and liberties." Morales denounced the militarization and said that the government was committing a massacre in the Chapare, he declared that the peasants had a right to resist militarily against the troops who were said to be shooting at protesters. Then three police officers were slain when they attempted to close a coca market. In light of Morales' comments about armed resistance on January 24, 2002 a 104-member majority of Congress voted to have him expelled. The Congressional Ethics Commission declared that Morales had committed "serious inadequacies in the execution of his duties." With his popularity rising for standing up to an unpopular government, on March 5, 2002, he submitted an objection to the Constitutional Tribunal saying his rights had been violated. He said his right to defend himself, to the presumption of innocence, and to parliamentary immunity had all been unjustly ignored.

In an interview in November 2002 with The Ecologist
The Ecologist
The Ecologist is a British environmental publication founded in 1970 by Edward Goldsmith. It addresses a wide range of environmental subjects and promotes an ecological systems thinking approach through its news stories, investigations and opinion articles. The Ecologist encourages its readers to...

, Morales spoke about the expulsion saying "I was the congressman with the highest proportion of votes for his area and ‘obeying an order from the US’ they voted to expel me from Congress. It is only recently that the constitutional court finally declared the whole farce illegal, and now they are having to pay compensation for what they did."

2002 presidential elections


The same day he petitioned the Constitutional Tribunal, Morales resigned from the Confederation of Coca Producers of Cochabamba and was endorsed by the Six Federations of the Tropics as the MAS 2002 presidential candidate. The supportive crowd cheered him on saying "Kausachum coca!" ("Long live coca!") and "Huaiñuchum yanquis!" ("Down with Yankees!"), they also "hoisted the wiphala
Wiphala
The Wiphala is a square emblem, commonly used as a flag, representing the native peoples of all the Andes that include today's Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and parts of Argentina, Chile and Colombia...

, the multi-colored checkered flag that is the emblem of the Andean cultures, along with the standard tri-colored Bolivian flag
Flag of Bolivia
The current flag of Bolivia was originally adopted by Bolivia in 1851. The state flag and ensign is a horizontal tricolor of red, yellow and green with the Bolivian coat of arms in the center...

."

In the 2002 presidential election
Bolivian presidential election, 2002
The 2002 Bolivian presidential election took place on 30 June 2002. The election took place on the same day as the 2002 Bolivian legislative election. No candidate won over half of the vote, therefore the National Congress of Bolivia elected the president from the two candidates who had received...

, Morales came in second place, a surprising upset for Bolivia's traditional parties. This made the indigenous activist an instant celebrity throughout the continent. Morales credited his near victory in part to comments made by then U.S. Ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 to Bolivia Manuel Rocha
Manuel Rocha
-Background:Rocha graduated from Taft School in 1969 and graduated from Yale University cum laude in 1973. He received a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1976 and a Master of Arts in international relations from Georgetown University in 1978.Rocha began his...

, who warned, "As a representative of the United States, I want to remind the Bolivian electorate that if you elect those who want Bolivia to become a major cocaine exporter again, this will endanger the future of U.S. assistance to Bolivia." Morales said that these remarks helped to "awaken the conscience of the people."

2005 presidential elections


In 2005, President Carlos Mesa
Carlos Mesa
Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert is a Bolivian politician, historian and President of Bolivia from October 17, 2003 until his resignation on June 6, 2005....

 resigned under pressure by MAS and their supporters, led by Morales, by means of road blocks and riots. Because of this, and as a result of growing discontent and popular unrest, Congress and President Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé decided to move up the 2007 elections to December 2005.

At a gathering of farmers celebrating the 10th anniversary of the founding of MAS in March 2005, Morales declared, "MAS is ready to rule Bolivia", having "consolidated its position as the [prime] political force in the country". He also said, "the problem is not winning the elections anymore but knowing how to rule the country."

Preliminary polls placed Morales and the Movement for Socialism in an uncomfortable three-way tie with center and right wing forces and urban majority leaders Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Fernando "Tuto" Quiroga Ramírez was President of Bolivia from August 7, 2001 to August 6, 2002. He is of Spanish descent.-Background and early life:...

, from the party Social and Democratic Power (PODEMOS)
Social and Democratic Power
Podemos is the name of a right-of-center, pro-business Bolivian political party. It is a pseudo-acronym standing for 'Poder Democrático y Social' , but the word also means "We can."-Nationalist Democratic Action:...

, and Samuel Doria Medina, with only a few points' difference. By August 21, Morales had chosen his running mate for the presidential elections, left-wing ideologist, sociologist
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, mathematician
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, and political analyst Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro Marcelo García Linera is a Bolivian politician who has been Vice President of Bolivia since 2006.-Biography:He was born in Cochabamba and graduated from San Agustín High School. Then, he studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and became a mathematician...

, who fought alongside of Felipe Quispe
Felipe Quispe
Felipe Quispe Huanca "El Mallku" is an ethnic Aymara Bolivian political leader. He heads the Pachakuti Indigenous Movement and has also been general secretary of the United Union Confederation of Working Peasants of Bolivia...

 as part of the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army
Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army
The Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army is an indigenous guerrilla movement in Bolivia. The organization descends directly from the original revolutionaries trained by Che Guevara in the 1960s. Their objective is to fight for social equality in Bolivia and amongst its indigenous population...

 (EGTK).

By December 4, Morales had moved ahead in the polls to around 32% of the vote. Quiroga hovered around 27% with Samuel Doria Medina coming in at less than 15%. All of the parties promised national solidarity, nationalization (in some form) of the hydrocarbons, and wealth for the people.

On December 14, the Wall Street Journal reported, "Most polls give the 46-year-old Mr. Morales a lead of about 34% to 29% over his nearest rival, conservative former President Jorge Quiroga." Over 100,000 election judges were sworn in as the country prepared for the elections on December 18.

Exit polls were published almost as soon as voting closed, with Morales expected to win 42–45% of the vote and Quiroga 33–37%. Quiroga conceded defeat within a few hours.

By December 22, the official count was at 53.899% of the vote, with 98.697% of the ballots tallied, and no congressional vote was necessary to determine the winner.

Inauguration


On January 21, 2006, Morales attended an indigenous spiritual ceremony at the pre-Columbian archaeological site and modern spiritual center of Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku, is an important Pre-Columbian archaeological site in western Bolivia, South America. Tiwanaku is recognized by Andean scholars as one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire, flourishing as the ritual and administrative capital of a major state power for approximately five...

 where he was crowned as Apu Mallku
Apu Mallku
Apu Mallku is an Aymara title meaning "supreme leader" or "king" conferred on a Mallku or "prince". The Apu Mallku's mandate is to oversee the vast network of Ayllus, an ancient Andean system of governing councils that predates even the Inca empire...

 or Supreme Leader of the Aymara, the indigenous group to which Morales belongs, and received gifts from many groups representing indigenous peoples from various parts of Latin America and the world. Morales claims this is the first time since the days of Tupac Amaru
Túpac Amaru
Túpac Amaru, also called Thupa Amaro , was the last indigenous leader of the Inca state in Peru.-Accession:...

 that an indigenous person has held sovereign power in Bolivia. The ceremony was attended by the Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

n president, Janez Drnovšek
Janez Drnovšek
Janez Drnovšek was a Slovenian liberal politician, President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia , Prime Minister of Slovenia and President of Slovenia . He was born in Celje, Slovenia, then the Socialist Republic of Slovenia...

.
For his official inauguration, Morales had a suit designed by fashion designer Beatriz Canedo Patiño
Beatriz Canedo Patiño
Beatriz Canedo Patiño is Bolivia's best-known fashion designer, born in La Paz. Beatriz Canedo specializes in Alpaca-based coats and suits. She actually designed, in secrecy, the presidential suit Evo Morales wore in his Presidential Official Inauguration, when the mass media was largely wondering...

, but Andeanized it by refusing to wear a tie and having an indigenous pattern sewn on. On January 22 he officially received power in a formal inauguration ceremony in La Paz attended by multiple heads of state, including Argentine President Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Carlos Kirchner was an Argentine politician who served as the 54th President of Argentina from 25 May 2003 until 10 December 2007. Previously, he was Governor of Santa Cruz Province since 10 December 1991. He briefly served as Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations ...

 and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

. Chilean President Ricardo Lagos
Ricardo Lagos
Ricardo Froilán Lagos Escobar is a lawyer, economist and social democrat politician, who served as president of Chile from 2000 to 2006. He won the 1999-2000 presidential election by a narrow margin in a runoff over Independent Democrat Union candidate Joaquín Lavín...

, whose country has had a history of diplomatic conflict with Bolivia (see War of the Pacific
War of the Pacific
The War of the Pacific took place in western South America from 1879 through 1883. Chile fought against Bolivia and Peru. Despite cooperation among the three nations in the war against Spain, disputes soon arose over the mineral-rich Peruvian provinces of Tarapaca, Tacna, and Arica, and the...

) was also present and met with the dignitary in private. Morales described his presidency as marking a new era, and that the 500 years of colonialism were now at an end. In his inaugural speech, Morales criticized the former politics of Bolivia, condemning it as "colonial" and likening it to South Africa under apartheid. He went on to describe how the MAS' election would lead to a "refoundation" of the country, a term that the MAS had consistently chosen over "revolution". He went on to further echo these viewpoints in his convocation of the Constituent Assembly, in which he proclaimed that "This is where the democratic and cultural revolution begins."

Policies


The British academic James Dunkerley noted that Morales had gathered together a cabinet made up of indigenous activists and leftist intellectuals which was, on the whole, "extremely inexperienced" at governing. Dunkerley went on to identify a wide range of philosophical influences upon the thinking of the intellectuals in the cabinet, ranging from post-structuralism
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s...

 to the works of Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 thinkers Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, René Zavaleta Mercado
René Zavaleta Mercado
René Zavaleta Mercado born in Oruro , died in Mexico City , was a Bolivian politician, sociologist and philosopher. Zavaleta was an extremely influential Bolivian thinker of the second half of twentieth century...

 and E.P. Thompson.

It was the stated intention of the Morales government to reduce Bolivia's most accute poverty levels, which affected 35% of the population, to 27% over the period of five years. During his first term in office, Morales improved the living standards of poor Bolivians, reducing levels of extreme poverty and illiteracy while significantly increased state intervention on the economy by nationalizing oil, mines, gas, and communications. Welfare provision was expanded, as characterized by the introduction of non-contributory old-age pensions and payments to mothers provided their babies are taken for health checks and that their children attend school. Hundreds of free tractors were also handed out. The prices of gas and many foodstuffs were controlled, and local food producers were made to sell in the local market rather than export. A new state-owned body was also set up to distribute food at subsidized prices. All these measures helped to curb inflation, while the economy (partly because of rising public spending) grew strongly, accompanied by stronger public finances which brought economic stability.

Soon after ascending to power, Morales traveled to Europe, where he chose to wear a traditional multicolored Andean jumper rather that a western suit, something that attracted the interest of western media.

In September 2008, Morales accused the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg
Philip Goldberg
Philip S. Goldberg is a United States diplomat who was Ambassador to Bolivia and was expelled by the Bolivian government in 2008, the eighth chief of mission in US diplomatic history to be declared persona non grata...

, of "conspiring against democracy" and encouraging civil unrest, and went on to order him to leave the country. The U.S. government responded to Morales' action by ordering the Bolivian ambassador, Gustavo Guzman
Gustavo Guzmán
Gustavo Guzmán Sepúlveda. Mr. Guzmán holds a BA in Communications from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey , where he also studied a Master Degree in Business....

, out of their own country. The following day Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez stood in solidarity with his Bolivian allies by ordering the U.S. ambassador Patrick Duddy
Patrick Duddy
Patrick Duddy is the United States Ambassador to Venezuela. He served from August 6, 2007 to September 11, 2008, during the Bush Administration, was expelled by Venezeulan President Hugo Chavez, and eight months later was returned as Ambassador by the Obama Administration...

 out of his country, telling him to "go to hell 100 times" and withdrawing the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S.

New Constitution


A constituent assembly was convened in 2006, which produced a final text of a new Constitution of Bolivia
Constitution of Bolivia
The current Constitution of Bolivia is the 17th constitution in the country's history; previous constitutions were enacted in 1826, 1831, 1834, 1839, 1843, 1851, 1861, 1868, 1871, 1878, 1880, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1961 and 1967. It came into effect on February 7, 2009, when it was promulgated by...

 in December 2007. It was approved in the Bolivian constitutional referendum, 2009. In the interim Morales faced an autonomy movement in the country's eastern departments
Media Luna
The Media Luna or Media Luna Ampliada refers to a group of four departments – Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, and Tarija – in Bolivia which became the geographic area of opposition to the national government led by Evo Morales and the Movement for Socialism...

, which after a failed referendum on recalling Morales
Bolivian vote of confidence referendum, 2008
A vote of confidence in President Evo Morales in the form of a referendum was held in Bolivia on 10 August 2008. The vote was held to determine whether Morales, Vice President Álvaro García Linera, and eight out of nine departmental Prefects should stay in office. Morales received more than 67%...

 culminated in the 2008 unrest in Bolivia
2008 unrest in Bolivia
The 2008 unrest in Bolivia began with protests against President Evo Morales and calls for greater autonomy for the country's eastern departments. Demonstrators escalated the protests by seizing natural gas infrastructure and government buildings...

, which the government accused the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 of supporting. Morales and the MAS government subsequently adopted autonomy as a government policy and departmental autonomies were recognized in the new Bolivian constitution, approved in a referendum in January 2009. As well as departmental autonomy, the new constitution recognizes municipal, provincial and indigenous autonomies.

Second Presidential Term: 2009-present



Following the approval of the new Constitution of Bolivia
Constitution of Bolivia
The current Constitution of Bolivia is the 17th constitution in the country's history; previous constitutions were enacted in 1826, 1831, 1834, 1839, 1843, 1851, 1861, 1868, 1871, 1878, 1880, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1961 and 1967. It came into effect on February 7, 2009, when it was promulgated by...

 in the January 2009 referendum, new elections were called. Morales won the 2009 general election
Bolivian general election, 2009
The Bolivian general election, 2009 was held on 6 December, 2009, following a constitutional referendum held on 25 January 2009. Voters elected:*President and Vice President of the Republic.*130 members of the Chamber of Deputies.*36 members of the Senate....

 with a landslide majority, polling 64%, an increase on his 54% victory four years previously. His primary opponent, former army officer Manfred Reyes Villa
Manfred Reyes Villa
Manfred Reyes Villa is a Bolivian politician, who was mayor of Cochabamba four times and ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2002 and 2009 against Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and Evo Morales Ayma. He founded and led the Nueva Fuerza Republicana political party...

, gained 27% of the vote, whilst cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina gained about 8%. Morales' party, the Movement for Socialism, also won a two-thirds majority in both the Chamber of Deputies
National Congress of Bolivia
The Plurinational Legislative Assembly also known as the National Congress is the national legislature of Bolivia, based in the nation's de facto capital, La Paz....

 and the Senate
National Congress of Bolivia
The Plurinational Legislative Assembly also known as the National Congress is the national legislature of Bolivia, based in the nation's de facto capital, La Paz....

. In response to his victory, Morales proclaimed that he was "obligated to accelerate the pace of change" in Bolivia, seeing his re-election as a mandate to further his socialist reforms.

Following the victory of Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 and the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, relations between Bolivia and the U.S. improved, although remained strained. After the U.S. backed the 2011 military intervention in Libya
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

 by NATO forces, Morales condemned Obama, calling for his Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 to be revoked; in this he was backed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky is a Russian politician, colonel of the Russian Army, founder and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia , Vice-Chairman of the State Duma, and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe....

, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia , Liberal'no-Demokraticheskaya Partiya Rossii is a political party in Russia. Since its founding in 1991, it has been led by the charismatic and controversial figure Vladimir Zhirinovsky...

. In November 2011, the Bolivian and U.S. government's agreed to restore diplomatic relations, although Morales refused to allow U.S. agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Drug Enforcement Administration
The Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States...

 (DEA) back into the country.

Protests


Bolivia faced national protests after the announcement of a supreme decree to cut government subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuels, increasing the prices of those commodities on December 28, 2010. The measures triggered widespread protests throughout the country, among groups including Morales's own political base. Following the protests, on 31 December 2010, Morales announced that the supreme decree would be annulled, saying that he was complying with his promise to "listen to the people". The protest measures were subsequently called off. His approval ratings, consistently high in his first term, have declined according to one poll.

He also faced protests
2011 Bolivian indigenous protests
The 2011 Bolivian protests were a series of demonstrations by lowland indigenous tribes who opposed the construction of the Villa Tunari – San Ignacio de Moxos Highway through the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory the ancestral lands of 5,000 indigenous people from 3 ethnic...

 in 2011 from indigenous groups for his plan to build a highway through the Amazon Basin that would encroach on the tribal lands of lowland indigenous tribes. He responded to the protests by initially calling them American lackeys, but later acceded to holding a referendum on the matter. A government crackdown later led to the resignation of his Defense Minister María Chacon
María Chacón Rendón
María Cecilia Chacón Rendón is a Bolivian lawyer, political scientist and the former Minister of Defense. As of taking office on 6 April 2011, she became the first woman to occupy that office. She served as General Director of Multilateral Relations and Chief of Cabinet for the Vice Ministry of...

.

Political ideology


Although often vocal in his support of socialism, many commentators have noted that Evo Morales' political ideology, and the policies which his government have implemented, are not entirely socialist in nature. In his biography of the Bolivian president, the academic Sven Harten characterised Morales' ideology as "eclectic", drawing ideas from "various ideological currents". Harten also noted that whilst Morales uses fierce anti-imperialist and socialist rhetoric, he is neither "a hardcore anti-globalist nor a Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

", not having argued for the violent and absolute overthrow of capitalism or U.S. involvement in Latin America.

Additionally, Morales is an outspoken supporter of the iconic Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, who was killed by CIA-assisted Bolivian soldiers in 1967. On October 8, 2009, at a ceremony in Vallegrande
Vallegrande
Vallegrande is a small colonial town in Bolivia, located in the Department of Santa Cruz, some 125 km southwest of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. It is the capital of the Vallegrande Province and Vallegrande Municipality and serves as a regionally important market town...

, marking the 42nd anniversary of Che's death, Morales remarked that "Guevara is invincible in his ideals, and in all this history, after so many years, he inspires us to continue fighting, changing not only Bolivia, but all of Latin America and the world." As an additional sign of admiration, Morales has had a coca leaf portrait of Guerrillero Heroico
Guerrillero Heroico
Guerrillero Heroico is an iconic photo of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara wearing his black beret taken by Alberto Korda. It was taken on March 5, 1960, in Havana, Cuba, at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion and by the end of the 1960s turned the charismatic and...

installed in the presidential palace.

However, the Morales administrations' policies are not always thought of as socialist, instead being referred to as "Andean and Amazonian capitalism" by Vice President Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro Marcelo García Linera is a Bolivian politician who has been Vice President of Bolivia since 2006.-Biography:He was born in Cochabamba and graduated from San Agustín High School. Then, he studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and became a mathematician...

. Being a Marxist, García has argued that as a predominantly agricultural society, Bolivia does not contain a sufficiently large industrialized working class, or proletariat
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

, to enable it to convert into a socialist society
Socialism (Marxism)
In Marxist theory, socialism, or the socialist mode of production, refers to a specific historical phase of economic development and its corresponding set of social relations that eventually supersede capitalism...

 in the Marxist understanding of the word. For this reason García related that:
The MAS is in no sense seeking to form a socialist government. It is not viable because socialism is built on the basis of a strongly organised working class... Socialism is not constructed on the basis of a family economy
Family economy
Family Economy is used to denote the basic structure of production and consumption by Danny Pearson. In the family economy there were regional variations, which were how different places were different in family economy....

, which is what dominates in Bolivia, but on large industry... What is the model for Bolivia? A strong state, and that is capitalism... It isn't even a mixed system... What I do as a Marxist is evaluate the actual potential for development in society.


Writing in the Indian leftist magazine Economic and Political Weekly
Economic and Political Weekly
The Economic and Political Weekly is a left-leaning Indian magazine published from Mumbai by the Sameeksha Trust, a charitable trust. The magazine was first published in 1949 as the Economic Weekly and since 1966 was re-christened the Economic and Political Weekly. It was edited by Krishna Raj...

, the far left American academic James Petras
James Petras
James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues.-Academic and...

 (2007) argued that Morales' government during its first 15 months in office was neither socialist or anti-imperialist in nature, instead representing "an attempt to 'moralise' existing capitalist elites." He went on to argue that the Bolivian government had gained the support of Venezuela and Cuba, as well as socialists around the world, with Morales' rhetoric, but that the government's policies had failed to actually develop a socialist alternative.

Image


Morales' unorthodox behavior contrasts with the usual manners of dignitaries and other political leaders in Latin America. For example, on January 28, 2006 he cut his salary by 57% to $1,875 a month. He is single and, before the election, he shared a flat with other MAS officers. Consequently, his older sister, Esther Morales Ayma, fulfills the role of First Lady
First Lady
First Lady or First Gentlemanis the unofficial title used in some countries for the spouse of an elected head of state.It is not normally used to refer to the spouse or partner of a prime minister; the husband or wife of the British Prime Minister is usually informally referred to as prime...

. He has two children from different mothers, Eva Liz Morales Alvarado and Álvaro Morales Paredes; politician Juan del Granado
Juan del Granado
Juan del Granado is a Bolivian human-rights lawyer and politician, mayor of La Paz and founder of the Without Fear Movement , a progressive political party...

 is Eva Liz's godfather. Morales is also an association football enthusiast and plays the game frequently, often with local teams.

He also aroused much interest in his casual choice of dress after being pictured often in his striped sweater
Sweater
A sweater, jumper, pullover, sweatshirt, jersey or guernsey is a garment intended to cover the torso and arms. It is often worn over a shirt, blouse, T-shirt, or other top, but may also be worn alone as a top...

 with world leaders during his world tour. Some speculated that he would wear it to the official inauguration, where he actually dressed in a white collared dress shirt without a necktie (itself unheard of in Latin America in modern times for a head of state at their own inauguration) and a black suit jacket that was not a part of a conventional suit or tuxedo. He never dresses formally in any type of business suit. The sweater he often wears (in Bolivian Spanish, a chompa, a Quechua word, which is the root of the English word jumper
Sweater
A sweater, jumper, pullover, sweatshirt, jersey or guernsey is a garment intended to cover the torso and arms. It is often worn over a shirt, blouse, T-shirt, or other top, but may also be worn alone as a top...

) became his unofficial symbol and copies of it sold widely throughout Bolivia. Some accounts described Morales's signature sweater as alpaca
Alpaca
An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of to above sea level, throughout the year...

-wool; others reported that it was actually made of common acrylic
Acrylic fiber
Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from a polymer with an average molecular weight of ~100,000, about 1900 monomer units. To be called acrylic in the U.S, the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer. Typical comonomers are vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate...

, because native materials had become too expensive for most Bolivians and were sold mostly in the tourist trade.

Unlike many politicians, Morales failed to obtain an academic degree, although is known to cite academic work approvingly when it supports his arguments.

Ethnicity


Evo Morales is declared as the first Aymara president. However, there is some Amerindian heritage among prior Bolivian presidents, such as Andrés de Santa Cruz
Andrés de Santa Cruz
Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana was President of Peru and Bolivia...

 (1829—who claimed that through his mother he was descended from Inca rulers
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

, Mariano Melgarejo
Mariano Melgarejo
Manuel Mariano Melgarejo Valencia was the 19th President of Bolivia, from December 28, 1864, to January 15, 1871.-Early life:...

 (1864), Carlos Quintanilla
Carlos Quintanilla
General Carlos Quintanilla served as the de-facto President of Bolivia from August 1935 until April 1940. Quintanilla saw action during the Chaco War of 1932-35, and managed to ascend the echelon of the Bolivian armed forces until he became Commander of the Army during the administration of Germán...

 (1939), René Barrientos
René Barrientos
René Barrientos Ortuño was a Bolivian politician who served as his country's Vice President in 1964 and as its President from 1964 to 1969....

 (1964), Juan José Torres
Juan José Torres
Juan José Torres González was a Bolivian socialist politician and military leader. He served as President of Bolivia from October 7, 1970 to August 21, 1971. He was popularly known as "J.J."...

 (1976), Luis García Meza (1980), and Celso Torrelio
Celso Torrelio
Celso Torrelio Villa was a military general, a member of the Junta of Commanders of the Armed Forces , and de facto President of Bolivia between September 1981 and August 1982....

 (1981). None of these presidents were democratically elected, with the exception of Barrientos, who had the full support of the Bolivian military establishment. While the claim is a potent symbol, it has been challenged publicly by novelist and erstwhile right-wing Peruvian presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America's most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading authors of his generation...

, who accuses Morales of fomenting racial divisions in an increasingly mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

 South America.

The Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

an writer Eduardo Galeano
Eduardo Galeano
Eduardo Hughes Galeano is a Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist. His best known works are Memoria del fuego and Las venas abiertas de América Latina which have been translated into twenty languages and transcend orthodox genres: combining fiction, journalism, political analysis, and...

 responded to Vargas Llosa saying: "I see what is happening in Bolivia as a very significant act of affirmation of diversity [which is opposite to] racism, elitism and militarism, which leave us blind to our marvellous existence, to that rainbow that we are". Although Morales has sometimes been described as the first indigenous president to be democratically elected in Latin America, this description in fact goes to Benito Juarez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

, a Mexican of the Zapotec
Zapotec
The Zapotecs are an indigenous people of Mexico. The population is concentrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, but Zapotec communities exist in neighboring states, as well. The present-day population is estimated at approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000 persons, many of whom are monolingual in one...

 ethnic group, was elected President of Mexico in 1858.

Controversies


Since he took office in 2006, several local and international analysts and human rights organizations have observed that many of the actions and policies of the Morales government have substantially eroded the rule of law and threaten to weaken the situation of human rights in Bolivia.

External links




Juan Evo Morales Ayma (born October 26, 1959), popularly known as Evo (ˈeβo), is a Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

n politician and activist, currently serving as the 80th President of Bolivia
President of Bolivia
The President of Bolivia is head of state and head of government of Bolivia. According to the current Constitution, the president is elected by popular vote to a five year term, renewable once...

, a position that he has held since 2006. He is also the leader of both the Movement for Socialism party (MAS) and the cocalero
Cocalero
Cocaleros are the coca leaf growers of Peru and Bolivia. Evo Morales, who became president of Bolivia in 2006, is a leader of the cocalero movement in that country.-Cocalero movement:...

trade union. Politically a socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, his presidency has seen a focus on implementing leftist policies in the country, introducing a new constitution, land reforms, nationalising various key industries and opposing United States and corporate involvement in the country's politics.

Born into a working class Aymara family in Isallawi, Orinoca Canton, Evo grew up aiding his parents as a subsistence farmer. After studying for a degree, Morales undertook national service until 1978, when he returned to the family profession of farming, moving with them to Chapare Province
Chapare Province
Chapare, also called The Chapare and is pronounced Cha-pa-reh, is a rural province in the northern region of Cochabamba Department in central Bolivia. The majority of the territory consists of valley rainforests that surround the area's main waterway, the Chapare River, which is also a tributary of...

. He eventually settled into growing coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

, becoming actively involved in the coca growers' trade union, the cocalero movement. Becoming a well known activist amongst the campesinos (rural laborers), he was known for leading the resistance against the U.S. government's attempts to eradicate coca
Coca eradication
Coca eradication is a controversial strategy strongly promoted by the United States government starting in 1961 as part of its "War on Drugs" to eliminate the cultivation of coca, a plant whose leaves are not only traditionally used by indigenous cultures but also, in modern society, in the...

 as a part of their wider "War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

".

His activism led him into the political arena, and he eventually became the leader of the MAS, through which he got involved in social protests like the gas conflict and the Cochabamba protests of 2000. The MAS aimed at giving more power to the country's indigenous and poor communities by means of land reforms and redistribution of gas wealth, and gradually increased its electoral support.

Morales was first elected President of Bolivia on December 18, 2005, with 53.7% of the popular vote. Two and a half years later he substantially increased this majority; in a recall referendum on August 14, 2008, more than two thirds of voters voted to keep him in office. Morales won presidential elections again in December 2009 with 63% and continued to his second term of presidency.

A critic of the United States' foreign policy and the involvement of transnational corporations in Latin America, he has been a firm ally of the socialist governments of Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

 in Venezuela and Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 in Cuba. In October 2009, Morales was named "World Hero of Mother Earth" by the General Assembly of the United Nations
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

.

Childhood and education: 1959-1977


{{double image|right|Aymara ceremony copacabana 4.jpg|200|Fishing boat Lake Poopo.jpg|198|A traditional Aymara ceremony (left); Poopó Lake was the dominant geographical feature around Evo's home village of Isallawi (right)..}}

Morales was born in Isallawi village, an impoverished rural community of around thirty houses scattered over an area of 4 square kilometres in Orinoca Canton, a part of the Oruro Department
Oruro Department
Oruro is a department in Bolivia, with an area of 53,588 km². Its capital is the city of Oruro. At the time of census 2001 it had a population of 391,870.- Provinces of Oruro :...

 in western Bolivia, on 26 October 1959. He was one of seven children born to Dionisio Morales Choque and Maria Mamani; however, only Morales and two of his siblings, Esther and Hugo, survived past childhood. Indeed, his mother suffered a postpartum haemorrhage after giving birth to him, almost dying due to the absence of any doctors or midwives in the village. Ethnically a mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

 and thereby being of both European and Native American heritage, much of his ancestry came from the indigenous Aymara people, and in keeping with Aymara custom, his father buried the placenta
Placenta
The placenta is an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply. "True" placentas are a defining characteristic of eutherian or "placental" mammals, but are also found in some snakes and...

 produced after his birth in a place specially chosen for the occasion. He grew up speaking the Aymara language
Aymara language
Aymara is an Aymaran language spoken by the Aymara people of the Andes. It is one of only a handful of Native American languages with over three million speakers. Aymara, along with Quechua and Spanish, is an official language of Peru and Bolivia...

, although later commentators would remark that by the time he had become president he was no longer an entirely fluent speaker, something some critics would use against him.

Morales' family were subsistence farmers, and from an early age he took part in his parents' work, aiding in planting and harvesting crops and guarding their herd of llamas and sheep, always taking a homemade soccer ball with him to amuse himself. His home was an adobe
Adobe
Adobe is a natural building material made from sand, clay, water, and some kind of fibrous or organic material , which the builders shape into bricks using frames and dry in the sun. Adobe buildings are similar to cob and mudbrick buildings. Adobe structures are extremely durable, and account for...

 house with a dirt floor and straw roof, in keeping with Aymara cultural style. As a toddler, he briefly attended the preparatory school in Orinoca, although aged five he began schooling at the primary school in his home village, which consisted of a single room in which children of all ages were taught. Aged six, he travelled with his sister and father to northern Argentina for six months where his father worked harvesting sugar cane, and Evo himself sold ice cream as well as briefly attending school, but speaking only Aymara he had difficulty understanding the lessons, which were taught in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, and he was forced to leave. As a child, he would also regularly travel by foot to Arani province
Arani Province
Arani is a province in Cochabamba Department, Bolivia. Its capital is Arani, situated about 53 km from Cochabamba. Arani is known for its bread but also for the town's artisan wickerwork.- Subdivision :...

 in Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

 with his father and their llamas, a journey lasting up to two weeks, in order to exchange their salt and potatoes for maize and coca. A big fan of soccer, aged 13 he organised a community soccer team, 'The Fraternity', with himself as team captain. Within two years, he had been elected to the position of training coach for the whole region, gaining early experience with leadership.

After finishing primary education, Morales attended the Agrarian Humanistic Technical Institute of Orinoca (ITAHO), completing all but the final year. That year, his parents then sent him to study for a degree in Oruro
Oruro, Bolivia
Oruro is a city in Bolivia with a population of 235,393 , located about equidistant between La Paz and Sucre at approximately 3710 meters above sea level. It is the capital of the department of Oruro....

, where, although not exceeding academically, he finished all of his courses and exams by 1977, meanwhile earning money on the side as a brick-maker, day labourer, baker and a trumpet player for the Royal Imperial Band, the latter of which allowed him to travel across Bolivia. However, at the end of his higher education he failed to collect his degree certificate, probably because of the expense that this would have entailed; in Bolivia, obtaining a "certificate for completed studies" was "a very costly and time-consuming affair." Although he had an interest in going on to study journalism at university, his parents were unable to afford to support him in this venture, preventing him from entering this profession.

Military service and El Chapare: 1978-1981


At the time, the Bolivian government instituted mandatory conscription into the army, and so Morales had to serve in the armed forces between 1977 and 1978. He had initially signed up at the Centre for Instruction of Special Troops (CITE) in Cochabamba, but was instead sent into the 4th Ingavi Cavalry Regiment and stationed at the army headquarters in Bolivia's administrative capital La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

 to undertake his military service. These two years saw "one of Bolivia's politically most unstable periods", with five presidents and two military coups, led by General Juan Pereda
Juan Pereda
Juan Pereda Asbún is a former military general and de facto president of Bolivia . Although he ruled for only four months, his ascent to the presidency marked the beginning of the most unstable period in Bolivian history, with nine presidents in a little over 4 years , in comparison to only one in...

 and General David Padilla
David Padilla
David Padilla Arancibia was a military general and former de facto president of Bolivia. He ruled his country from November 1978 to August 1979....

 respectively. It was under the regime of the latter that Morales was stationed as a guard at the Palacio Quemado
Palacio Quemado
The Palacio Quemado is a popular name to denote the Bolivian Palace of Government, located on Plaza Murillo in downtown La Paz. It is the building from which the Bolivian executive conducts its business.The building has had many incarnations...

, or Presidential Palace.
At the end of his military service, Evo returned to his family, who had decided to move from Isallawi, where they had lived for four generations, and set up a new home in the Tropics of Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

, located in the eastern Bolivian lowlands; this was brought about after the Orinoca communities had been hit by the El Niño
El Niño-Southern Oscillation
El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is a quasiperiodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean roughly every five years...

storm cycle in 1980, which decimated the region's agriculture. In doing so, the Morales family were following in an Andean tradition that had been practiced since at least the time of the Inca Empire
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

, that of moving between the different climatic zones in order to diversify their livelihoods; according to Andean tradition, the family ayllu, being a discontinuous territory, would move with them, but retain links to Isallawi. Setting up a new home in the town of Villa 14 de Septiembre, El Chapare
Chapare Province
Chapare, also called The Chapare and is pronounced Cha-pa-reh, is a rural province in the northern region of Cochabamba Department in central Bolivia. The majority of the territory consists of valley rainforests that surround the area's main waterway, the Chapare River, which is also a tributary of...

 with the help of a loan from Evo's maternal uncle, the Morales family cleared a plot of land in the semi-tropical forest, and proceeded to grow such crops as rice, oranges, grapefruit, papaya, bananas and later on also coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

. The arrival of the Morales family was a part of a much wider migration to the region, with many Bolivians hoping to set up farms where they could earn a living growing coca, a crop which was experiencing a steady rise in price and which could be cultivated up to four times a year; in 1981 El Chapare's population was 40,000 but by 1988 it had risen to 215,000.

In his new home, Evo got to know the local community by joining their soccer team, before going on to found his own team, named New Horizon, who proved victorious at the August 2nd Central Tournament. The El Chapare region would remain special to Evo for many years to come, for during his presidency he would often talk about it in public speeches and would return there whenever possible, frequenting one of three "locally renowned" fish restaurants for one of his favourite dishes, surubí.

Entering the cocalero union: 1981-1983


It was in El Chapare that Evo joined a cocalero trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 of local coca growers, first getting involved in political activism. The local union syndicate had been responsible for building not only several roads and the local school, but also the soccer field, and Evo, known for his love of soccer, was appointed to be their Secretary of Sports, whose job it was to help organize tournaments. Amongst union members, he would even earn the nickname of "the young ball player" because of his tendency to bring a soccer ball to union meetings, organising a match during recess. Despite entering the union through sport, he had been influenced in joining it by wider events; in 1980, the far-right General Luis García Meza seized power in a military coup, banned other political parties and subsequently declared himself president in what observers widely declared a dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

. With high levels of government corruption and involvement in illegal cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 trafficking, the new president's administration was marked by human rights abuses, and for Evo, a "foundational event in his relationship with politics" occurred in 1981, when a campesino (coca grower) was accused of being a cocaine trafficker by drunken soldiers, who proceeded to beat him up, spray him with gasoline and then burn him to death.
Further political instability rocked the nation when Luis García Meza was forced to resign, and in 1982 the left wing Democratic and Popular Union (Unidad Democrática y Popular - UDP) took power in representative democratic
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 elections, with Hernán Siles Zuazo
Hernán Siles Zuazo
Hernán Siles Zuazo was a politician from Bolivia. He served as his country's constitutionally elected president twice, from 1956 to 1960 and again from 1982 to 1985....

 becoming president. However, with the Bolivian economy in crises, the UDP bowed to U.S. government pressure and implemented a series of right wing neoliberal capitalist
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 reforms to the economy, cutting back the state sector and opening the country up to foreign corporations who would privatise the state companies over the following years. The reforms brought hyperinflation under control, but led to rocketing unemployment which reached 25%. The U.S. government then ordered further intervention in Bolivia as a part of their War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

 to destroy the illegal narcotics trade; as U.S. President George H.W. Bush proclaimed, "The fastest and cheapest way to eliminate narcotic trafficking is at its source... We need to do away with the plantations where they grow". Because coca was one ingredient in the production of cocaine, the U.S. sent their own armed forces into El Chapare in order to aid the Bolivian authorities in halting its production.

In 1983, Evo's father Dionisio died, and so he temporarily retreated from his work with the cocalero syndicate to focus on organising his father's affairs. However, the increasing U.S. involvement in El Chapare with the tacit support of the Bolivian government angered Evo, who returned to campaigning on behalf of the coca growers. Like many of his comrades, he refused the $2,500 compensation offered by the government for each acre of coca that he eradicated; deeply embedded in Bolivian culture, the campesinos had an ancestral relationship with the coca leaf and did not want to lose their most profitable means of subsistence. For them, it was also an issue of national sovereignty, with the U.S. being viewed as invading imperalists
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 who had no right to force Bolivian farmers to do their bidding, with activists regularly proclaiming "Long live coca! Death to the Yankees!" ("Causachun coca! Wañuchun yanquis!"). From 1982 to 1983, Evo served as the General Secretary of his local San Francisco syndicate, before serving as Secretary of Records from 1984 to 1985, and then General Secretary of the August 2nd Headquarters in 1985.

General Secretary of the Cocalero Union: 1985-1994


By 1985, Morales was elected general secretary in a union of coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

 farmers and by 1988 was elected executive secretary of the Tropics Federation. He retains this position to this day, even while serving as president of Bolivia. Around this time the Bolivian government, encouraged by the US, began a program to eradicate most coca production. By 1996 Morales was made president of the Coordinating Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

. Morales was among those opposing the government's position on coca and lobbied for a different policy. This opposition often resulted in him being jailed and in an incident in 1989, beaten near to death by UMOPAR
UMOPAR
The Unidad Móvil Policial para Áreas Rurales , a subsidiary of the Special Antinarcotics Force of the Bolivian National Police was created in 1987 and is a Bolivian anti-narcotics and counterinsurgency force which was founded by, and is funded, advised,...

 forces (who, assuming he had been slain, dumped his unconscious body in the bushes where it was discovered by his colleagues).

In his speeches, Morales presented the coca leaf as a symbol of Andean culture that was under threat of extinction from the imperialist oppression of western culture, in particular that of the U.S. In his view, it was the problem of the U.S. to deal with their own domestic problem of drug abuse, and that they had no right trying to eliminate coca, a legitimate product with many uses and a rich role to play in Andean culture. Furthermore, he presented the coca growers themselves as victims of a wealthy, urban social elite, who had bowed to U.S. pressure in implementing neoliberal economic reforms to the detriment of the majority of Bolivians, in this way arguing that the representative democratic system in Bolivia failed to reflect the true democratic will of the majority.

Morales soon led a 600 km march from Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

 to the Bolivian capital La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

. While they were often attacked by law enforcement officers, they managed to proceed by sneaking around their control posts. They were often greeted by supporters who gave the marchers drink, food, clothes and shoes. They were greeted with cheers by supporters in La Paz and the government was forced to negotiate an accord with them. After the marchers returned home, the government reneged on the deal and sent forces to harass them. According to Morales during this time in 1997 a United States Drug Enforcement Agency helicopter strafed farmers with automatic rifle
Automatic rifle
Automatic rifle is a term generally used to describe a semi-automatic rifle chambered for a rifle cartridge, capable of delivering both semi- and full automatic fire...

 fire, killing five of his supporters. He has also recounted how he was grazed by assassin
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

s' bullets in Villa Tunari
Villa Tunari
Villa Tunari or Tunari is a location in the department of Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is the seat of the Villa Tunari Municipality, the third municipal section of the Chapare Province. At the time of census 2001 it had a population of 2,510....

 in 2000. He was recognized in 1996 by an international coalition against the "War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

". Morales then found an audience in Europe for his positions and traveled there to gain support and to educate people on the differences between coca leaves and cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

. In a speech on this issue, he told reporters "I am not a drug trafficker. I am a coca grower. I cultivate coca leaf, which is a natural product. I do not refine (it into) cocaine, and neither cocaine nor drugs have ever been part of the Andean culture."

The ASP, IPSP and MAS: 1995-1999


Members of the sindicato social movement first began suggesting that they move into the political arena in 1986. This suggestion brought much disagreement, with many fearing that a move into politics would lead the social movement to be co-opted for personal gain by politicians, who were widely mistrusted by the activists. Evo Morales began supporting the formation of a political wing in 1989, although a consensus in favor of its formation only emerged in 1993. On March 27, 1995, at the seventh congress of the Unique Confederation of Rural Laborers of Bolivia (Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia - CSUTCB), such a "political instrument" - a term intentionally employed over "political party" - was finally founded, named the Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples
Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples
The Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples was a political organization in Bolivia. It was formed as a "political instrument" of the popular movements of the country. Alejo Véliz was the national president of ASP.-History:...

 (Asamblea por la Sobernía de los Pueblos - ASP). The ASP soon held its first congress, at which the CSUTCB participated along with three other Bolivian unions, the FNMB, CSCB and CIDOB, representing miners, peasants and indigenous peoples respectively.

Nonetheless, the National Electoral Court
National Electoral Court of Bolivia
The National Electoral Court was the government-appointed court which oversaw elections and electoral results at all levels of Bolivian government from 1956 to 2010, and supervised nine Departmental Electoral Courts in each department...

 (Corte Nacional Electoral - CNE) prevented Morales or any of his fellow activists running for political office under the ASP banner by refusing to recognize it, citing minor procedural infringements. The coca activists circumvented this problem by instead running under the banner of the United Left
United Left (Bolivia)
The United Left was a political coalition in Bolivia. IU was launched ahead of the 1989 national elections, as a successor of the United People's Front...

 (IU), a coalition of leftist parties that had been founded in 1988 and which was headed by the Communist Party of Bolivia
Communist Party of Bolivia
The Communist Party of Bolivia is a communist party in Bolivia. It was founded in 1950 by Raúl Ruiz González and other former members of the Revolutionary Left Party . It remained small and did not hold its first national party congress until 1959....

 (Partido Comunista Boliviano - PCB). They went on to win landslide victories in those areas which were local strongholds of the movement, producing 11 mayors and 49 municipal councilors. In the subsequent national elections of 1997
Bolivian legislative election, 1997
Bolivia held a general election on 1 June 1997, electing both a new President of the Republic and a new National Congress, 1997–2002.- Congressional Elections results :- Chamber of Deputies :- Chamber of Senators :...

, the IU/ASP gained four seats in Congress, obtaining 3.7% of the national vote, with this rising to 17.5% in the department of Cochabamba. Morales was among the four activists elected to Congress, representing the provinces of Chapare and Carrasco, and carrying 70% of the votes in his electoral district.
Rising electoral success was accompanied by factional in-fighting, with a leadership contest emerging in the ASP between the incumbent Alejo Véliz
Alejo Véliz
Alejo Véliz Lazo is a Bolivian politician and activist. He is a member of the ASP party. Véliz is a former executive secretary of the Federación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Cochabamba , and former Secretary General of the Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de...

 and Evo Morales, who had the electoral backing of the social movement's bases. Morales and his supporters subsequently split from Véliz and the ASP and formed their own party, the Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (Instrumento Político por la Soberanía de los Pueblos - IPSP). The movement's bases soon defected en masse to the IPSP, leaving the ASP to crumble and Véliz to join the centre-right New Republican Force
New Republican Force
The New Republican Force is a center-right personalist political party in Bolivia.At the legislative elections in 2002, the party won 26.5 % of the popular vote and 25 out of 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and two out of 27 seats in the Senate...

 (Nueva Fuerza Republicana - NFR), for which Morales denounced him as a traitor.

In an attempt to prevent the coca activists entering the elections, the CNE once more refused the registration of the IPSP and then annulled the electoral licence of the IU. Attempting to find a way around these restrictions, Morales came to an agreement with David Añez Pedraza, the leader of a defunct yet still registered right wing party named the Movement for Socialism (MAS); under this agreement, Morales and the Six Federaciónes could take over the party name, with Pendraza stipulating the condition that they must maintain its own acronym, name and colors. Thus the defunct right wing MAS became the flourishing left wing vehicle for the coca activist movement known as the Movement for Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples. The MAS is described as "an indigenous-based political party that calls for the nationalization of industry, legalization of the coca leaf … and fairer distribution of national resources."

Morales and the MAS went on to contest the local elections of December 5, 1999
Bolivian municipal election, 1999
Municipal elections were held in Bolivia, on December 5, 1999, in all 311 municipalities across the country. The elections marked a milestone in the continuous deterioration of the political influence of the traditional parties...

.

Expulsion from Congress


While Morales was a Member of Congress, the governments of Hugo Banzer
Hugo Banzer
Hugo Banzer Suárez was a politician, military general, dictator and President of Bolivia. He held the Bolivian presidency twice: from August 22, 1971 to July 21, 1978, as a dictator; and then again from August 6, 1997 to August 7, 2001, as constitutional President.-Military and ideological...

 and Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Fernando "Tuto" Quiroga Ramírez was President of Bolivia from August 7, 2001 to August 6, 2002. He is of Spanish descent.-Background and early life:...

 broadened the eradication campaign through Plan Dignidad. The coca producing region of Chapare which Morales represented was beset with hundreds of police and military officers who were seen by Morales as "committing an innumerable amount of abuses and assassinations which violated the most basic human rights and liberties." Morales denounced the militarization and said that the government was committing a massacre in the Chapare, he declared that the peasants had a right to resist militarily against the troops who were said to be shooting at protesters. Then three police officers were slain when they attempted to close a coca market. In light of Morales' comments about armed resistance on January 24, 2002 a 104-member majority of Congress voted to have him expelled. The Congressional Ethics Commission declared that Morales had committed "serious inadequacies in the execution of his duties." With his popularity rising for standing up to an unpopular government, on March 5, 2002, he submitted an objection to the Constitutional Tribunal saying his rights had been violated. He said his right to defend himself, to the presumption of innocence, and to parliamentary immunity had all been unjustly ignored.

In an interview in November 2002 with The Ecologist
The Ecologist
The Ecologist is a British environmental publication founded in 1970 by Edward Goldsmith. It addresses a wide range of environmental subjects and promotes an ecological systems thinking approach through its news stories, investigations and opinion articles. The Ecologist encourages its readers to...

, Morales spoke about the expulsion saying "I was the congressman with the highest proportion of votes for his area and ‘obeying an order from the US’ they voted to expel me from Congress. It is only recently that the constitutional court finally declared the whole farce illegal, and now they are having to pay compensation for what they did."

2002 presidential elections


The same day he petitioned the Constitutional Tribunal, Morales resigned from the Confederation of Coca Producers of Cochabamba and was endorsed by the Six Federations of the Tropics as the MAS 2002 presidential candidate. The supportive crowd cheered him on saying "Kausachum coca!" ("Long live coca!") and "Huaiñuchum yanquis!" ("Down with Yankees!"), they also "hoisted the wiphala
Wiphala
The Wiphala is a square emblem, commonly used as a flag, representing the native peoples of all the Andes that include today's Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and parts of Argentina, Chile and Colombia...

, the multi-colored checkered flag that is the emblem of the Andean cultures, along with the standard tri-colored Bolivian flag
Flag of Bolivia
The current flag of Bolivia was originally adopted by Bolivia in 1851. The state flag and ensign is a horizontal tricolor of red, yellow and green with the Bolivian coat of arms in the center...

."

In the 2002 presidential election
Bolivian presidential election, 2002
The 2002 Bolivian presidential election took place on 30 June 2002. The election took place on the same day as the 2002 Bolivian legislative election. No candidate won over half of the vote, therefore the National Congress of Bolivia elected the president from the two candidates who had received...

, Morales came in second place, a surprising upset for Bolivia's traditional parties. This made the indigenous activist an instant celebrity throughout the continent. Morales credited his near victory in part to comments made by then U.S. Ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 to Bolivia Manuel Rocha
Manuel Rocha
-Background:Rocha graduated from Taft School in 1969 and graduated from Yale University cum laude in 1973. He received a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1976 and a Master of Arts in international relations from Georgetown University in 1978.Rocha began his...

, who warned, "As a representative of the United States, I want to remind the Bolivian electorate that if you elect those who want Bolivia to become a major cocaine exporter again, this will endanger the future of U.S. assistance to Bolivia." Morales said that these remarks helped to "awaken the conscience of the people."

2005 presidential elections


{{Main|Bolivian presidential election, 2005}}

In 2005, President Carlos Mesa
Carlos Mesa
Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert is a Bolivian politician, historian and President of Bolivia from October 17, 2003 until his resignation on June 6, 2005....

 resigned under pressure by MAS and their supporters, led by Morales, by means of road blocks and riots. Because of this, and as a result of growing discontent and popular unrest, Congress and President Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé decided to move up the 2007 elections to December 2005.

At a gathering of farmers celebrating the 10th anniversary of the founding of MAS in March 2005, Morales declared, "MAS is ready to rule Bolivia", having "consolidated its position as the [prime] political force in the country". He also said, "the problem is not winning the elections anymore but knowing how to rule the country."

Preliminary polls placed Morales and the Movement for Socialism in an uncomfortable three-way tie with center and right wing forces and urban majority leaders Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Fernando "Tuto" Quiroga Ramírez was President of Bolivia from August 7, 2001 to August 6, 2002. He is of Spanish descent.-Background and early life:...

, from the party Social and Democratic Power (PODEMOS)
Social and Democratic Power
Podemos is the name of a right-of-center, pro-business Bolivian political party. It is a pseudo-acronym standing for 'Poder Democrático y Social' , but the word also means "We can."-Nationalist Democratic Action:...

, and Samuel Doria Medina, with only a few points' difference. By August 21, Morales had chosen his running mate for the presidential elections, left-wing ideologist, sociologist
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, mathematician
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, and political analyst Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro Marcelo García Linera is a Bolivian politician who has been Vice President of Bolivia since 2006.-Biography:He was born in Cochabamba and graduated from San Agustín High School. Then, he studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and became a mathematician...

, who fought alongside of Felipe Quispe
Felipe Quispe
Felipe Quispe Huanca "El Mallku" is an ethnic Aymara Bolivian political leader. He heads the Pachakuti Indigenous Movement and has also been general secretary of the United Union Confederation of Working Peasants of Bolivia...

 as part of the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army
Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army
The Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army is an indigenous guerrilla movement in Bolivia. The organization descends directly from the original revolutionaries trained by Che Guevara in the 1960s. Their objective is to fight for social equality in Bolivia and amongst its indigenous population...

 (EGTK).

By December 4, Morales had moved ahead in the polls to around 32% of the vote. Quiroga hovered around 27% with Samuel Doria Medina coming in at less than 15%. All of the parties promised national solidarity, nationalization (in some form) of the hydrocarbons, and wealth for the people.

On December 14, the Wall Street Journal reported, "Most polls give the 46-year-old Mr. Morales a lead of about 34% to 29% over his nearest rival, conservative former President Jorge Quiroga." Over 100,000 election judges were sworn in as the country prepared for the elections on December 18.

Exit polls were published almost as soon as voting closed, with Morales expected to win 42–45% of the vote and Quiroga 33–37%. Quiroga conceded defeat within a few hours.

By December 22, the official count was at 53.899% of the vote, with 98.697% of the ballots tallied, and no congressional vote was necessary to determine the winner.

Inauguration


On January 21, 2006, Morales attended an indigenous spiritual ceremony at the pre-Columbian archaeological site and modern spiritual center of Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku, is an important Pre-Columbian archaeological site in western Bolivia, South America. Tiwanaku is recognized by Andean scholars as one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire, flourishing as the ritual and administrative capital of a major state power for approximately five...

 where he was crowned as Apu Mallku
Apu Mallku
Apu Mallku is an Aymara title meaning "supreme leader" or "king" conferred on a Mallku or "prince". The Apu Mallku's mandate is to oversee the vast network of Ayllus, an ancient Andean system of governing councils that predates even the Inca empire...

 or Supreme Leader of the Aymara, the indigenous group to which Morales belongs, and received gifts from many groups representing indigenous peoples from various parts of Latin America and the world. Morales claims this is the first time since the days of Tupac Amaru
Túpac Amaru
Túpac Amaru, also called Thupa Amaro , was the last indigenous leader of the Inca state in Peru.-Accession:...

 that an indigenous person has held sovereign power in Bolivia. The ceremony was attended by the Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

n president, Janez Drnovšek
Janez Drnovšek
Janez Drnovšek was a Slovenian liberal politician, President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia , Prime Minister of Slovenia and President of Slovenia . He was born in Celje, Slovenia, then the Socialist Republic of Slovenia...

.

{{Quote box|width=246px|bgcolor= #ACE1AF|align=left|quote="In the world there are large and small countries, rich countries and poor countries, but we are equal in one thing, which is our right to dignity and sovereignty…"|source=Evo Morales, Inaugural Speech, 22 January 2006}}

For his official inauguration, Morales had a suit designed by fashion designer Beatriz Canedo Patiño
Beatriz Canedo Patiño
Beatriz Canedo Patiño is Bolivia's best-known fashion designer, born in La Paz. Beatriz Canedo specializes in Alpaca-based coats and suits. She actually designed, in secrecy, the presidential suit Evo Morales wore in his Presidential Official Inauguration, when the mass media was largely wondering...

, but Andeanized it by refusing to wear a tie and having an indigenous pattern sewn on. On January 22 he officially received power in a formal inauguration ceremony in La Paz attended by multiple heads of state, including Argentine President Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Carlos Kirchner was an Argentine politician who served as the 54th President of Argentina from 25 May 2003 until 10 December 2007. Previously, he was Governor of Santa Cruz Province since 10 December 1991. He briefly served as Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations ...

 and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

. Chilean President Ricardo Lagos
Ricardo Lagos
Ricardo Froilán Lagos Escobar is a lawyer, economist and social democrat politician, who served as president of Chile from 2000 to 2006. He won the 1999-2000 presidential election by a narrow margin in a runoff over Independent Democrat Union candidate Joaquín Lavín...

, whose country has had a history of diplomatic conflict with Bolivia (see War of the Pacific
War of the Pacific
The War of the Pacific took place in western South America from 1879 through 1883. Chile fought against Bolivia and Peru. Despite cooperation among the three nations in the war against Spain, disputes soon arose over the mineral-rich Peruvian provinces of Tarapaca, Tacna, and Arica, and the...

) was also present and met with the dignitary in private. Morales described his presidency as marking a new era, and that the 500 years of colonialism were now at an end.{{Citation needed|date=July 2011}} In his inaugural speech, Morales criticized the former politics of Bolivia, condemning it as "colonial" and likening it to South Africa under apartheid. He went on to describe how the MAS' election would lead to a "refoundation" of the country, a term that the MAS had consistently chosen over "revolution". He went on to further echo these viewpoints in his convocation of the Constituent Assembly, in which he proclaimed that "This is where the democratic and cultural revolution begins."

Policies


The British academic James Dunkerley noted that Morales had gathered together a cabinet made up of indigenous activists and leftist intellectuals which was, on the whole, "extremely inexperienced" at governing. Dunkerley went on to identify a wide range of philosophical influences upon the thinking of the intellectuals in the cabinet, ranging from post-structuralism
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s...

 to the works of Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 thinkers Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, René Zavaleta Mercado
René Zavaleta Mercado
René Zavaleta Mercado born in Oruro , died in Mexico City , was a Bolivian politician, sociologist and philosopher. Zavaleta was an extremely influential Bolivian thinker of the second half of twentieth century...

 and E.P. Thompson.

It was the stated intention of the Morales government to reduce Bolivia's most accute poverty levels, which affected 35% of the population, to 27% over the period of five years. During his first term in office, Morales improved the living standards of poor Bolivians, reducing levels of extreme poverty and illiteracy while significantly increased state intervention on the economy by nationalizing oil, mines, gas, and communications. Welfare provision was expanded, as characterized by the introduction of non-contributory old-age pensions and payments to mothers provided their babies are taken for health checks and that their children attend school. Hundreds of free tractors were also handed out. The prices of gas and many foodstuffs were controlled, and local food producers were made to sell in the local market rather than export. A new state-owned body was also set up to distribute food at subsidized prices. All these measures helped to curb inflation, while the economy (partly because of rising public spending) grew strongly, accompanied by stronger public finances which brought economic stability.

Soon after ascending to power, Morales traveled to Europe, where he chose to wear a traditional multicolored Andean jumper rather that a western suit, something that attracted the interest of western media.

In September 2008, Morales accused the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg
Philip Goldberg
Philip S. Goldberg is a United States diplomat who was Ambassador to Bolivia and was expelled by the Bolivian government in 2008, the eighth chief of mission in US diplomatic history to be declared persona non grata...

, of "conspiring against democracy" and encouraging civil unrest, and went on to order him to leave the country. The U.S. government responded to Morales' action by ordering the Bolivian ambassador, Gustavo Guzman
Gustavo Guzmán
Gustavo Guzmán Sepúlveda. Mr. Guzmán holds a BA in Communications from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey , where he also studied a Master Degree in Business....

, out of their own country. The following day Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez stood in solidarity with his Bolivian allies by ordering the U.S. ambassador Patrick Duddy
Patrick Duddy
Patrick Duddy is the United States Ambassador to Venezuela. He served from August 6, 2007 to September 11, 2008, during the Bush Administration, was expelled by Venezeulan President Hugo Chavez, and eight months later was returned as Ambassador by the Obama Administration...

 out of his country, telling him to "go to hell 100 times" and withdrawing the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S.

New Constitution


A constituent assembly was convened in 2006, which produced a final text of a new Constitution of Bolivia
Constitution of Bolivia
The current Constitution of Bolivia is the 17th constitution in the country's history; previous constitutions were enacted in 1826, 1831, 1834, 1839, 1843, 1851, 1861, 1868, 1871, 1878, 1880, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1961 and 1967. It came into effect on February 7, 2009, when it was promulgated by...

 in December 2007. It was approved in the Bolivian constitutional referendum, 2009. In the interim Morales faced an autonomy movement in the country's eastern departments
Media Luna
The Media Luna or Media Luna Ampliada refers to a group of four departments – Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, and Tarija – in Bolivia which became the geographic area of opposition to the national government led by Evo Morales and the Movement for Socialism...

, which after a failed referendum on recalling Morales
Bolivian vote of confidence referendum, 2008
A vote of confidence in President Evo Morales in the form of a referendum was held in Bolivia on 10 August 2008. The vote was held to determine whether Morales, Vice President Álvaro García Linera, and eight out of nine departmental Prefects should stay in office. Morales received more than 67%...

 culminated in the 2008 unrest in Bolivia
2008 unrest in Bolivia
The 2008 unrest in Bolivia began with protests against President Evo Morales and calls for greater autonomy for the country's eastern departments. Demonstrators escalated the protests by seizing natural gas infrastructure and government buildings...

, which the government accused the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 of supporting. Morales and the MAS government subsequently adopted autonomy as a government policy and departmental autonomies were recognized in the new Bolivian constitution, approved in a referendum in January 2009. As well as departmental autonomy, the new constitution recognizes municipal, provincial and indigenous autonomies.{{Citation needed|date=July 2011}}

Second Presidential Term: 2009-present



Following the approval of the new Constitution of Bolivia
Constitution of Bolivia
The current Constitution of Bolivia is the 17th constitution in the country's history; previous constitutions were enacted in 1826, 1831, 1834, 1839, 1843, 1851, 1861, 1868, 1871, 1878, 1880, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1961 and 1967. It came into effect on February 7, 2009, when it was promulgated by...

 in the January 2009 referendum, new elections were called. Morales won the 2009 general election
Bolivian general election, 2009
The Bolivian general election, 2009 was held on 6 December, 2009, following a constitutional referendum held on 25 January 2009. Voters elected:*President and Vice President of the Republic.*130 members of the Chamber of Deputies.*36 members of the Senate....

 with a landslide majority, polling 64%, an increase on his 54% victory four years previously. His primary opponent, former army officer Manfred Reyes Villa
Manfred Reyes Villa
Manfred Reyes Villa is a Bolivian politician, who was mayor of Cochabamba four times and ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2002 and 2009 against Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and Evo Morales Ayma. He founded and led the Nueva Fuerza Republicana political party...

, gained 27% of the vote, whilst cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina gained about 8%. Morales' party, the Movement for Socialism, also won a two-thirds majority in both the Chamber of Deputies
National Congress of Bolivia
The Plurinational Legislative Assembly also known as the National Congress is the national legislature of Bolivia, based in the nation's de facto capital, La Paz....

 and the Senate
National Congress of Bolivia
The Plurinational Legislative Assembly also known as the National Congress is the national legislature of Bolivia, based in the nation's de facto capital, La Paz....

. In response to his victory, Morales proclaimed that he was "obligated to accelerate the pace of change" in Bolivia, seeing his re-election as a mandate to further his socialist reforms.

Following the victory of Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 and the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, relations between Bolivia and the U.S. improved, although remained strained. After the U.S. backed the 2011 military intervention in Libya
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

 by NATO forces, Morales condemned Obama, calling for his Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 to be revoked; in this he was backed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky is a Russian politician, colonel of the Russian Army, founder and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia , Vice-Chairman of the State Duma, and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe....

, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia , Liberal'no-Demokraticheskaya Partiya Rossii is a political party in Russia. Since its founding in 1991, it has been led by the charismatic and controversial figure Vladimir Zhirinovsky...

. In November 2011, the Bolivian and U.S. government's agreed to restore diplomatic relations, although Morales refused to allow U.S. agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Drug Enforcement Administration
The Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States...

 (DEA) back into the country.

Protests


Bolivia faced national protests after the announcement of a supreme decree to cut government subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuels, increasing the prices of those commodities on December 28, 2010. The measures triggered widespread protests throughout the country, among groups including Morales's own political base. Following the protests, on 31 December 2010, Morales announced that the supreme decree would be annulled, saying that he was complying with his promise to "listen to the people". The protest measures were subsequently called off. His approval ratings, consistently high in his first term, have declined according to one poll.

He also faced protests
2011 Bolivian indigenous protests
The 2011 Bolivian protests were a series of demonstrations by lowland indigenous tribes who opposed the construction of the Villa Tunari – San Ignacio de Moxos Highway through the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory the ancestral lands of 5,000 indigenous people from 3 ethnic...

 in 2011 from indigenous groups for his plan to build a highway through the Amazon Basin that would encroach on the tribal lands of lowland indigenous tribes. He responded to the protests by initially calling them American lackeys, but later acceded to holding a referendum on the matter. A government crackdown later led to the resignation of his Defense Minister María Chacon
María Chacón Rendón
María Cecilia Chacón Rendón is a Bolivian lawyer, political scientist and the former Minister of Defense. As of taking office on 6 April 2011, she became the first woman to occupy that office. She served as General Director of Multilateral Relations and Chief of Cabinet for the Vice Ministry of...

.

Political ideology


{{Quote box|width=246px|bgcolor= #ACE1AF|align=right|quote="The worst enemy of humanity is capitalism. That is what provokes uprisings like our own, a rebellion against a system, against a neo-liberal model, which is the representation of a savage capitalism. If the entire world doesn't acknowledge this reality, that the national states are not providing even minimally for health, education and nourishment, then each day the most fundamental human rights are being violated."|source=Evo Morales}}

Although often vocal in his support of socialism, many commentators have noted that Evo Morales' political ideology, and the policies which his government have implemented, are not entirely socialist in nature. In his biography of the Bolivian president, the academic Sven Harten characterised Morales' ideology as "eclectic", drawing ideas from "various ideological currents". Harten also noted that whilst Morales uses fierce anti-imperialist and socialist rhetoric, he is neither "a hardcore anti-globalist nor a Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

", not having argued for the violent and absolute overthrow of capitalism or U.S. involvement in Latin America.

Additionally, Morales is an outspoken supporter of the iconic Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, who was killed by CIA-assisted Bolivian soldiers in 1967. On October 8, 2009, at a ceremony in Vallegrande
Vallegrande
Vallegrande is a small colonial town in Bolivia, located in the Department of Santa Cruz, some 125 km southwest of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. It is the capital of the Vallegrande Province and Vallegrande Municipality and serves as a regionally important market town...

, marking the 42nd anniversary of Che's death, Morales remarked that "Guevara is invincible in his ideals, and in all this history, after so many years, he inspires us to continue fighting, changing not only Bolivia, but all of Latin America and the world." As an additional sign of admiration, Morales has had a coca leaf portrait of Guerrillero Heroico
Guerrillero Heroico
Guerrillero Heroico is an iconic photo of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara wearing his black beret taken by Alberto Korda. It was taken on March 5, 1960, in Havana, Cuba, at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion and by the end of the 1960s turned the charismatic and...

installed in the presidential palace.

However, the Morales administrations' policies are not always thought of as socialist, instead being referred to as "Andean and Amazonian capitalism" by Vice President Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro Marcelo García Linera is a Bolivian politician who has been Vice President of Bolivia since 2006.-Biography:He was born in Cochabamba and graduated from San Agustín High School. Then, he studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and became a mathematician...

. Being a Marxist, García has argued that as a predominantly agricultural society, Bolivia does not contain a sufficiently large industrialized working class, or proletariat
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

, to enable it to convert into a socialist society
Socialism (Marxism)
In Marxist theory, socialism, or the socialist mode of production, refers to a specific historical phase of economic development and its corresponding set of social relations that eventually supersede capitalism...

 in the Marxist understanding of the word. For this reason García related that:
The MAS is in no sense seeking to form a socialist government. It is not viable because socialism is built on the basis of a strongly organised working class... Socialism is not constructed on the basis of a family economy
Family economy
Family Economy is used to denote the basic structure of production and consumption by Danny Pearson. In the family economy there were regional variations, which were how different places were different in family economy....

, which is what dominates in Bolivia, but on large industry... What is the model for Bolivia? A strong state, and that is capitalism... It isn't even a mixed system... What I do as a Marxist is evaluate the actual potential for development in society.


Writing in the Indian leftist magazine Economic and Political Weekly
Economic and Political Weekly
The Economic and Political Weekly is a left-leaning Indian magazine published from Mumbai by the Sameeksha Trust, a charitable trust. The magazine was first published in 1949 as the Economic Weekly and since 1966 was re-christened the Economic and Political Weekly. It was edited by Krishna Raj...

, the far left American academic James Petras
James Petras
James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues.-Academic and...

 (2007) argued that Morales' government during its first 15 months in office was neither socialist or anti-imperialist in nature, instead representing "an attempt to 'moralise' existing capitalist elites." He went on to argue that the Bolivian government had gained the support of Venezuela and Cuba, as well as socialists around the world, with Morales' rhetoric, but that the government's policies had failed to actually develop a socialist alternative.

Image


Morales' unorthodox behavior contrasts with the usual manners of dignitaries and other political leaders in Latin America. For example, on January 28, 2006 he cut his salary by 57% to $1,875 a month. He is single and, before the election, he shared a flat with other MAS officers. Consequently, his older sister, Esther Morales Ayma, fulfills the role of First Lady
First Lady
First Lady or First Gentlemanis the unofficial title used in some countries for the spouse of an elected head of state.It is not normally used to refer to the spouse or partner of a prime minister; the husband or wife of the British Prime Minister is usually informally referred to as prime...

. He has two children from different mothers, Eva Liz Morales Alvarado and Álvaro Morales Paredes; politician Juan del Granado
Juan del Granado
Juan del Granado is a Bolivian human-rights lawyer and politician, mayor of La Paz and founder of the Without Fear Movement , a progressive political party...

 is Eva Liz's godfather. Morales is also an association football enthusiast and plays the game frequently, often with local teams.

He also aroused much interest in his casual choice of dress after being pictured often in his striped sweater
Sweater
A sweater, jumper, pullover, sweatshirt, jersey or guernsey is a garment intended to cover the torso and arms. It is often worn over a shirt, blouse, T-shirt, or other top, but may also be worn alone as a top...

 with world leaders during his world tour. Some speculated that he would wear it to the official inauguration, where he actually dressed in a white collared dress shirt without a necktie (itself unheard of in Latin America in modern times for a head of state at their own inauguration) and a black suit jacket that was not a part of a conventional suit or tuxedo. He never dresses formally in any type of business suit. The sweater he often wears (in Bolivian Spanish, a chompa, a Quechua word, which is the root of the English word jumper
Sweater
A sweater, jumper, pullover, sweatshirt, jersey or guernsey is a garment intended to cover the torso and arms. It is often worn over a shirt, blouse, T-shirt, or other top, but may also be worn alone as a top...

) became his unofficial symbol and copies of it sold widely throughout Bolivia. Some accounts described Morales's signature sweater as alpaca
Alpaca
An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of to above sea level, throughout the year...

-wool; others reported that it was actually made of common acrylic
Acrylic fiber
Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from a polymer with an average molecular weight of ~100,000, about 1900 monomer units. To be called acrylic in the U.S, the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer. Typical comonomers are vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate...

, because native materials had become too expensive for most Bolivians and were sold mostly in the tourist trade.

Unlike many politicians, Morales failed to obtain an academic degree, although is known to cite academic work approvingly when it supports his arguments.

Ethnicity


Evo Morales is declared as the first Aymara president. However, there is some Amerindian heritage among prior Bolivian presidents, such as Andrés de Santa Cruz
Andrés de Santa Cruz
Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana was President of Peru and Bolivia...

 (1829—who claimed that through his mother he was descended from Inca rulers
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

, Mariano Melgarejo
Mariano Melgarejo
Manuel Mariano Melgarejo Valencia was the 19th President of Bolivia, from December 28, 1864, to January 15, 1871.-Early life:...

 (1864), Carlos Quintanilla
Carlos Quintanilla
General Carlos Quintanilla served as the de-facto President of Bolivia from August 1935 until April 1940. Quintanilla saw action during the Chaco War of 1932-35, and managed to ascend the echelon of the Bolivian armed forces until he became Commander of the Army during the administration of Germán...

 (1939), René Barrientos
René Barrientos
René Barrientos Ortuño was a Bolivian politician who served as his country's Vice President in 1964 and as its President from 1964 to 1969....

 (1964), Juan José Torres
Juan José Torres
Juan José Torres González was a Bolivian socialist politician and military leader. He served as President of Bolivia from October 7, 1970 to August 21, 1971. He was popularly known as "J.J."...

 (1976), Luis García Meza (1980), and Celso Torrelio
Celso Torrelio
Celso Torrelio Villa was a military general, a member of the Junta of Commanders of the Armed Forces , and de facto President of Bolivia between September 1981 and August 1982....

 (1981). None of these presidents were democratically elected, with the exception of Barrientos, who had the full support of the Bolivian military establishment. While the claim is a potent symbol, it has been challenged publicly by novelist and erstwhile right-wing Peruvian presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America's most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading authors of his generation...

, who accuses Morales of fomenting racial divisions in an increasingly mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

 South America.

The Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

an writer Eduardo Galeano
Eduardo Galeano
Eduardo Hughes Galeano is a Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist. His best known works are Memoria del fuego and Las venas abiertas de América Latina which have been translated into twenty languages and transcend orthodox genres: combining fiction, journalism, political analysis, and...

 responded to Vargas Llosa saying: "I see what is happening in Bolivia as a very significant act of affirmation of diversity [which is opposite to] racism, elitism and militarism, which leave us blind to our marvellous existence, to that rainbow that we are". Although Morales has sometimes been described as the first indigenous president to be democratically elected in Latin America, this description in fact goes to Benito Juarez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

, a Mexican of the Zapotec
Zapotec
The Zapotecs are an indigenous people of Mexico. The population is concentrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, but Zapotec communities exist in neighboring states, as well. The present-day population is estimated at approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000 persons, many of whom are monolingual in one...

 ethnic group, was elected President of Mexico in 1858.

Controversies


Since he took office in 2006, several local and international analysts and human rights organizations have observed that many of the actions and policies of the Morales government have substantially eroded the rule of law and threaten to weaken the situation of human rights in Bolivia.

External links


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Eduardo Rodríguez
Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé is a former president of Bolivia; prior to that appointment he was the chief justice of the Supreme Court.-Background:...

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President of Bolivia
The President of Bolivia is head of state and head of government of Bolivia. According to the current Constitution, the president is elected by popular vote to a five year term, renewable once...

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Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...


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Juan Evo Morales Ayma (born October 26, 1959), popularly known as Evo (ˈeβo), is a Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

n politician and activist, currently serving as the 80th President of Bolivia
President of Bolivia
The President of Bolivia is head of state and head of government of Bolivia. According to the current Constitution, the president is elected by popular vote to a five year term, renewable once...

, a position that he has held since 2006. He is also the leader of both the Movement for Socialism party (MAS) and the cocalero
Cocalero
Cocaleros are the coca leaf growers of Peru and Bolivia. Evo Morales, who became president of Bolivia in 2006, is a leader of the cocalero movement in that country.-Cocalero movement:...

trade union. Politically a socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, his presidency has seen a focus on implementing leftist policies in the country, introducing a new constitution, land reforms, nationalising various key industries and opposing United States and corporate involvement in the country's politics.

Born into a working class Aymara family in Isallawi, Orinoca Canton, Evo grew up aiding his parents as a subsistence farmer. After studying for a degree, Morales undertook national service until 1978, when he returned to the family profession of farming, moving with them to Chapare Province
Chapare Province
Chapare, also called The Chapare and is pronounced Cha-pa-reh, is a rural province in the northern region of Cochabamba Department in central Bolivia. The majority of the territory consists of valley rainforests that surround the area's main waterway, the Chapare River, which is also a tributary of...

. He eventually settled into growing coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

, becoming actively involved in the coca growers' trade union, the cocalero movement. Becoming a well known activist amongst the campesinos (rural laborers), he was known for leading the resistance against the U.S. government's attempts to eradicate coca
Coca eradication
Coca eradication is a controversial strategy strongly promoted by the United States government starting in 1961 as part of its "War on Drugs" to eliminate the cultivation of coca, a plant whose leaves are not only traditionally used by indigenous cultures but also, in modern society, in the...

 as a part of their wider "War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

".

His activism led him into the political arena, and he eventually became the leader of the MAS, through which he got involved in social protests like the gas conflict and the Cochabamba protests of 2000. The MAS aimed at giving more power to the country's indigenous and poor communities by means of land reforms and redistribution of gas wealth, and gradually increased its electoral support.

Morales was first elected President of Bolivia on December 18, 2005, with 53.7% of the popular vote. Two and a half years later he substantially increased this majority; in a recall referendum on August 14, 2008, more than two thirds of voters voted to keep him in office. Morales won presidential elections again in December 2009 with 63% and continued to his second term of presidency.

A critic of the United States' foreign policy and the involvement of transnational corporations in Latin America, he has been a firm ally of the socialist governments of Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

 in Venezuela and Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 in Cuba. In October 2009, Morales was named "World Hero of Mother Earth" by the General Assembly of the United Nations
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

.

Childhood and education: 1959-1977


{{double image|right|Aymara ceremony copacabana 4.jpg|200|Fishing boat Lake Poopo.jpg|198|A traditional Aymara ceremony (left); Poopó Lake was the dominant geographical feature around Evo's home village of Isallawi (right)..}}

Morales was born in Isallawi village, an impoverished rural community of around thirty houses scattered over an area of 4 square kilometres in Orinoca Canton, a part of the Oruro Department
Oruro Department
Oruro is a department in Bolivia, with an area of 53,588 km². Its capital is the city of Oruro. At the time of census 2001 it had a population of 391,870.- Provinces of Oruro :...

 in western Bolivia, on 26 October 1959. He was one of seven children born to Dionisio Morales Choque and Maria Mamani; however, only Morales and two of his siblings, Esther and Hugo, survived past childhood. Indeed, his mother suffered a postpartum haemorrhage after giving birth to him, almost dying due to the absence of any doctors or midwives in the village. Ethnically a mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

 and thereby being of both European and Native American heritage, much of his ancestry came from the indigenous Aymara people, and in keeping with Aymara custom, his father buried the placenta
Placenta
The placenta is an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply. "True" placentas are a defining characteristic of eutherian or "placental" mammals, but are also found in some snakes and...

 produced after his birth in a place specially chosen for the occasion. He grew up speaking the Aymara language
Aymara language
Aymara is an Aymaran language spoken by the Aymara people of the Andes. It is one of only a handful of Native American languages with over three million speakers. Aymara, along with Quechua and Spanish, is an official language of Peru and Bolivia...

, although later commentators would remark that by the time he had become president he was no longer an entirely fluent speaker, something some critics would use against him.

Morales' family were subsistence farmers, and from an early age he took part in his parents' work, aiding in planting and harvesting crops and guarding their herd of llamas and sheep, always taking a homemade soccer ball with him to amuse himself. His home was an adobe
Adobe
Adobe is a natural building material made from sand, clay, water, and some kind of fibrous or organic material , which the builders shape into bricks using frames and dry in the sun. Adobe buildings are similar to cob and mudbrick buildings. Adobe structures are extremely durable, and account for...

 house with a dirt floor and straw roof, in keeping with Aymara cultural style. As a toddler, he briefly attended the preparatory school in Orinoca, although aged five he began schooling at the primary school in his home village, which consisted of a single room in which children of all ages were taught. Aged six, he travelled with his sister and father to northern Argentina for six months where his father worked harvesting sugar cane, and Evo himself sold ice cream as well as briefly attending school, but speaking only Aymara he had difficulty understanding the lessons, which were taught in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, and he was forced to leave. As a child, he would also regularly travel by foot to Arani province
Arani Province
Arani is a province in Cochabamba Department, Bolivia. Its capital is Arani, situated about 53 km from Cochabamba. Arani is known for its bread but also for the town's artisan wickerwork.- Subdivision :...

 in Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

 with his father and their llamas, a journey lasting up to two weeks, in order to exchange their salt and potatoes for maize and coca. A big fan of soccer, aged 13 he organised a community soccer team, 'The Fraternity', with himself as team captain. Within two years, he had been elected to the position of training coach for the whole region, gaining early experience with leadership.

After finishing primary education, Morales attended the Agrarian Humanistic Technical Institute of Orinoca (ITAHO), completing all but the final year. That year, his parents then sent him to study for a degree in Oruro
Oruro, Bolivia
Oruro is a city in Bolivia with a population of 235,393 , located about equidistant between La Paz and Sucre at approximately 3710 meters above sea level. It is the capital of the department of Oruro....

, where, although not exceeding academically, he finished all of his courses and exams by 1977, meanwhile earning money on the side as a brick-maker, day labourer, baker and a trumpet player for the Royal Imperial Band, the latter of which allowed him to travel across Bolivia. However, at the end of his higher education he failed to collect his degree certificate, probably because of the expense that this would have entailed; in Bolivia, obtaining a "certificate for completed studies" was "a very costly and time-consuming affair." Although he had an interest in going on to study journalism at university, his parents were unable to afford to support him in this venture, preventing him from entering this profession.

Military service and El Chapare: 1978-1981


At the time, the Bolivian government instituted mandatory conscription into the army, and so Morales had to serve in the armed forces between 1977 and 1978. He had initially signed up at the Centre for Instruction of Special Troops (CITE) in Cochabamba, but was instead sent into the 4th Ingavi Cavalry Regiment and stationed at the army headquarters in Bolivia's administrative capital La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

 to undertake his military service. These two years saw "one of Bolivia's politically most unstable periods", with five presidents and two military coups, led by General Juan Pereda
Juan Pereda
Juan Pereda Asbún is a former military general and de facto president of Bolivia . Although he ruled for only four months, his ascent to the presidency marked the beginning of the most unstable period in Bolivian history, with nine presidents in a little over 4 years , in comparison to only one in...

 and General David Padilla
David Padilla
David Padilla Arancibia was a military general and former de facto president of Bolivia. He ruled his country from November 1978 to August 1979....

 respectively. It was under the regime of the latter that Morales was stationed as a guard at the Palacio Quemado
Palacio Quemado
The Palacio Quemado is a popular name to denote the Bolivian Palace of Government, located on Plaza Murillo in downtown La Paz. It is the building from which the Bolivian executive conducts its business.The building has had many incarnations...

, or Presidential Palace.
At the end of his military service, Evo returned to his family, who had decided to move from Isallawi, where they had lived for four generations, and set up a new home in the Tropics of Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

, located in the eastern Bolivian lowlands; this was brought about after the Orinoca communities had been hit by the El Niño
El Niño-Southern Oscillation
El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is a quasiperiodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean roughly every five years...

storm cycle in 1980, which decimated the region's agriculture. In doing so, the Morales family were following in an Andean tradition that had been practiced since at least the time of the Inca Empire
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

, that of moving between the different climatic zones in order to diversify their livelihoods; according to Andean tradition, the family ayllu, being a discontinuous territory, would move with them, but retain links to Isallawi. Setting up a new home in the town of Villa 14 de Septiembre, El Chapare
Chapare Province
Chapare, also called The Chapare and is pronounced Cha-pa-reh, is a rural province in the northern region of Cochabamba Department in central Bolivia. The majority of the territory consists of valley rainforests that surround the area's main waterway, the Chapare River, which is also a tributary of...

 with the help of a loan from Evo's maternal uncle, the Morales family cleared a plot of land in the semi-tropical forest, and proceeded to grow such crops as rice, oranges, grapefruit, papaya, bananas and later on also coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

. The arrival of the Morales family was a part of a much wider migration to the region, with many Bolivians hoping to set up farms where they could earn a living growing coca, a crop which was experiencing a steady rise in price and which could be cultivated up to four times a year; in 1981 El Chapare's population was 40,000 but by 1988 it had risen to 215,000.

In his new home, Evo got to know the local community by joining their soccer team, before going on to found his own team, named New Horizon, who proved victorious at the August 2nd Central Tournament. The El Chapare region would remain special to Evo for many years to come, for during his presidency he would often talk about it in public speeches and would return there whenever possible, frequenting one of three "locally renowned" fish restaurants for one of his favourite dishes, surubí.

Entering the cocalero union: 1981-1983


It was in El Chapare that Evo joined a cocalero trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 of local coca growers, first getting involved in political activism. The local union syndicate had been responsible for building not only several roads and the local school, but also the soccer field, and Evo, known for his love of soccer, was appointed to be their Secretary of Sports, whose job it was to help organize tournaments. Amongst union members, he would even earn the nickname of "the young ball player" because of his tendency to bring a soccer ball to union meetings, organising a match during recess. Despite entering the union through sport, he had been influenced in joining it by wider events; in 1980, the far-right General Luis García Meza seized power in a military coup, banned other political parties and subsequently declared himself president in what observers widely declared a dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

. With high levels of government corruption and involvement in illegal cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 trafficking, the new president's administration was marked by human rights abuses, and for Evo, a "foundational event in his relationship with politics" occurred in 1981, when a campesino (coca grower) was accused of being a cocaine trafficker by drunken soldiers, who proceeded to beat him up, spray him with gasoline and then burn him to death.
Further political instability rocked the nation when Luis García Meza was forced to resign, and in 1982 the left wing Democratic and Popular Union (Unidad Democrática y Popular - UDP) took power in representative democratic
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 elections, with Hernán Siles Zuazo
Hernán Siles Zuazo
Hernán Siles Zuazo was a politician from Bolivia. He served as his country's constitutionally elected president twice, from 1956 to 1960 and again from 1982 to 1985....

 becoming president. However, with the Bolivian economy in crises, the UDP bowed to U.S. government pressure and implemented a series of right wing neoliberal capitalist
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 reforms to the economy, cutting back the state sector and opening the country up to foreign corporations who would privatise the state companies over the following years. The reforms brought hyperinflation under control, but led to rocketing unemployment which reached 25%. The U.S. government then ordered further intervention in Bolivia as a part of their War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

 to destroy the illegal narcotics trade; as U.S. President George H.W. Bush proclaimed, "The fastest and cheapest way to eliminate narcotic trafficking is at its source... We need to do away with the plantations where they grow". Because coca was one ingredient in the production of cocaine, the U.S. sent their own armed forces into El Chapare in order to aid the Bolivian authorities in halting its production.

In 1983, Evo's father Dionisio died, and so he temporarily retreated from his work with the cocalero syndicate to focus on organising his father's affairs. However, the increasing U.S. involvement in El Chapare with the tacit support of the Bolivian government angered Evo, who returned to campaigning on behalf of the coca growers. Like many of his comrades, he refused the $2,500 compensation offered by the government for each acre of coca that he eradicated; deeply embedded in Bolivian culture, the campesinos had an ancestral relationship with the coca leaf and did not want to lose their most profitable means of subsistence. For them, it was also an issue of national sovereignty, with the U.S. being viewed as invading imperalists
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 who had no right to force Bolivian farmers to do their bidding, with activists regularly proclaiming "Long live coca! Death to the Yankees!" ("Causachun coca! Wañuchun yanquis!"). From 1982 to 1983, Evo served as the General Secretary of his local San Francisco syndicate, before serving as Secretary of Records from 1984 to 1985, and then General Secretary of the August 2nd Headquarters in 1985.

General Secretary of the Cocalero Union: 1985-1994


By 1985, Morales was elected general secretary in a union of coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

 farmers and by 1988 was elected executive secretary of the Tropics Federation. He retains this position to this day, even while serving as president of Bolivia. Around this time the Bolivian government, encouraged by the US, began a program to eradicate most coca production. By 1996 Morales was made president of the Coordinating Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

. Morales was among those opposing the government's position on coca and lobbied for a different policy. This opposition often resulted in him being jailed and in an incident in 1989, beaten near to death by UMOPAR
UMOPAR
The Unidad Móvil Policial para Áreas Rurales , a subsidiary of the Special Antinarcotics Force of the Bolivian National Police was created in 1987 and is a Bolivian anti-narcotics and counterinsurgency force which was founded by, and is funded, advised,...

 forces (who, assuming he had been slain, dumped his unconscious body in the bushes where it was discovered by his colleagues).

In his speeches, Morales presented the coca leaf as a symbol of Andean culture that was under threat of extinction from the imperialist oppression of western culture, in particular that of the U.S. In his view, it was the problem of the U.S. to deal with their own domestic problem of drug abuse, and that they had no right trying to eliminate coca, a legitimate product with many uses and a rich role to play in Andean culture. Furthermore, he presented the coca growers themselves as victims of a wealthy, urban social elite, who had bowed to U.S. pressure in implementing neoliberal economic reforms to the detriment of the majority of Bolivians, in this way arguing that the representative democratic system in Bolivia failed to reflect the true democratic will of the majority.

Morales soon led a 600 km march from Cochabamba
Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

 to the Bolivian capital La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

. While they were often attacked by law enforcement officers, they managed to proceed by sneaking around their control posts. They were often greeted by supporters who gave the marchers drink, food, clothes and shoes. They were greeted with cheers by supporters in La Paz and the government was forced to negotiate an accord with them. After the marchers returned home, the government reneged on the deal and sent forces to harass them. According to Morales during this time in 1997 a United States Drug Enforcement Agency helicopter strafed farmers with automatic rifle
Automatic rifle
Automatic rifle is a term generally used to describe a semi-automatic rifle chambered for a rifle cartridge, capable of delivering both semi- and full automatic fire...

 fire, killing five of his supporters. He has also recounted how he was grazed by assassin
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

s' bullets in Villa Tunari
Villa Tunari
Villa Tunari or Tunari is a location in the department of Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is the seat of the Villa Tunari Municipality, the third municipal section of the Chapare Province. At the time of census 2001 it had a population of 2,510....

 in 2000. He was recognized in 1996 by an international coalition against the "War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

". Morales then found an audience in Europe for his positions and traveled there to gain support and to educate people on the differences between coca leaves and cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

. In a speech on this issue, he told reporters "I am not a drug trafficker. I am a coca grower. I cultivate coca leaf, which is a natural product. I do not refine (it into) cocaine, and neither cocaine nor drugs have ever been part of the Andean culture."

The ASP, IPSP and MAS: 1995-1999


Members of the sindicato social movement first began suggesting that they move into the political arena in 1986. This suggestion brought much disagreement, with many fearing that a move into politics would lead the social movement to be co-opted for personal gain by politicians, who were widely mistrusted by the activists. Evo Morales began supporting the formation of a political wing in 1989, although a consensus in favor of its formation only emerged in 1993. On March 27, 1995, at the seventh congress of the Unique Confederation of Rural Laborers of Bolivia (Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia - CSUTCB), such a "political instrument" - a term intentionally employed over "political party" - was finally founded, named the Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples
Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples
The Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples was a political organization in Bolivia. It was formed as a "political instrument" of the popular movements of the country. Alejo Véliz was the national president of ASP.-History:...

 (Asamblea por la Sobernía de los Pueblos - ASP). The ASP soon held its first congress, at which the CSUTCB participated along with three other Bolivian unions, the FNMB, CSCB and CIDOB, representing miners, peasants and indigenous peoples respectively.

Nonetheless, the National Electoral Court
National Electoral Court of Bolivia
The National Electoral Court was the government-appointed court which oversaw elections and electoral results at all levels of Bolivian government from 1956 to 2010, and supervised nine Departmental Electoral Courts in each department...

 (Corte Nacional Electoral - CNE) prevented Morales or any of his fellow activists running for political office under the ASP banner by refusing to recognize it, citing minor procedural infringements. The coca activists circumvented this problem by instead running under the banner of the United Left
United Left (Bolivia)
The United Left was a political coalition in Bolivia. IU was launched ahead of the 1989 national elections, as a successor of the United People's Front...

 (IU), a coalition of leftist parties that had been founded in 1988 and which was headed by the Communist Party of Bolivia
Communist Party of Bolivia
The Communist Party of Bolivia is a communist party in Bolivia. It was founded in 1950 by Raúl Ruiz González and other former members of the Revolutionary Left Party . It remained small and did not hold its first national party congress until 1959....

 (Partido Comunista Boliviano - PCB). They went on to win landslide victories in those areas which were local strongholds of the movement, producing 11 mayors and 49 municipal councilors. In the subsequent national elections of 1997
Bolivian legislative election, 1997
Bolivia held a general election on 1 June 1997, electing both a new President of the Republic and a new National Congress, 1997–2002.- Congressional Elections results :- Chamber of Deputies :- Chamber of Senators :...

, the IU/ASP gained four seats in Congress, obtaining 3.7% of the national vote, with this rising to 17.5% in the department of Cochabamba. Morales was among the four activists elected to Congress, representing the provinces of Chapare and Carrasco, and carrying 70% of the votes in his electoral district.
Rising electoral success was accompanied by factional in-fighting, with a leadership contest emerging in the ASP between the incumbent Alejo Véliz
Alejo Véliz
Alejo Véliz Lazo is a Bolivian politician and activist. He is a member of the ASP party. Véliz is a former executive secretary of the Federación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Cochabamba , and former Secretary General of the Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de...

 and Evo Morales, who had the electoral backing of the social movement's bases. Morales and his supporters subsequently split from Véliz and the ASP and formed their own party, the Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (Instrumento Político por la Soberanía de los Pueblos - IPSP). The movement's bases soon defected en masse to the IPSP, leaving the ASP to crumble and Véliz to join the centre-right New Republican Force
New Republican Force
The New Republican Force is a center-right personalist political party in Bolivia.At the legislative elections in 2002, the party won 26.5 % of the popular vote and 25 out of 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and two out of 27 seats in the Senate...

 (Nueva Fuerza Republicana - NFR), for which Morales denounced him as a traitor.

In an attempt to prevent the coca activists entering the elections, the CNE once more refused the registration of the IPSP and then annulled the electoral licence of the IU. Attempting to find a way around these restrictions, Morales came to an agreement with David Añez Pedraza, the leader of a defunct yet still registered right wing party named the Movement for Socialism (MAS); under this agreement, Morales and the Six Federaciónes could take over the party name, with Pendraza stipulating the condition that they must maintain its own acronym, name and colors. Thus the defunct right wing MAS became the flourishing left wing vehicle for the coca activist movement known as the Movement for Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples. The MAS is described as "an indigenous-based political party that calls for the nationalization of industry, legalization of the coca leaf … and fairer distribution of national resources."

Morales and the MAS went on to contest the local elections of December 5, 1999
Bolivian municipal election, 1999
Municipal elections were held in Bolivia, on December 5, 1999, in all 311 municipalities across the country. The elections marked a milestone in the continuous deterioration of the political influence of the traditional parties...

.

Expulsion from Congress


While Morales was a Member of Congress, the governments of Hugo Banzer
Hugo Banzer
Hugo Banzer Suárez was a politician, military general, dictator and President of Bolivia. He held the Bolivian presidency twice: from August 22, 1971 to July 21, 1978, as a dictator; and then again from August 6, 1997 to August 7, 2001, as constitutional President.-Military and ideological...

 and Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Fernando "Tuto" Quiroga Ramírez was President of Bolivia from August 7, 2001 to August 6, 2002. He is of Spanish descent.-Background and early life:...

 broadened the eradication campaign through Plan Dignidad. The coca producing region of Chapare which Morales represented was beset with hundreds of police and military officers who were seen by Morales as "committing an innumerable amount of abuses and assassinations which violated the most basic human rights and liberties." Morales denounced the militarization and said that the government was committing a massacre in the Chapare, he declared that the peasants had a right to resist militarily against the troops who were said to be shooting at protesters. Then three police officers were slain when they attempted to close a coca market. In light of Morales' comments about armed resistance on January 24, 2002 a 104-member majority of Congress voted to have him expelled. The Congressional Ethics Commission declared that Morales had committed "serious inadequacies in the execution of his duties." With his popularity rising for standing up to an unpopular government, on March 5, 2002, he submitted an objection to the Constitutional Tribunal saying his rights had been violated. He said his right to defend himself, to the presumption of innocence, and to parliamentary immunity had all been unjustly ignored.

In an interview in November 2002 with The Ecologist
The Ecologist
The Ecologist is a British environmental publication founded in 1970 by Edward Goldsmith. It addresses a wide range of environmental subjects and promotes an ecological systems thinking approach through its news stories, investigations and opinion articles. The Ecologist encourages its readers to...

, Morales spoke about the expulsion saying "I was the congressman with the highest proportion of votes for his area and ‘obeying an order from the US’ they voted to expel me from Congress. It is only recently that the constitutional court finally declared the whole farce illegal, and now they are having to pay compensation for what they did."

2002 presidential elections


The same day he petitioned the Constitutional Tribunal, Morales resigned from the Confederation of Coca Producers of Cochabamba and was endorsed by the Six Federations of the Tropics as the MAS 2002 presidential candidate. The supportive crowd cheered him on saying "Kausachum coca!" ("Long live coca!") and "Huaiñuchum yanquis!" ("Down with Yankees!"), they also "hoisted the wiphala
Wiphala
The Wiphala is a square emblem, commonly used as a flag, representing the native peoples of all the Andes that include today's Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and parts of Argentina, Chile and Colombia...

, the multi-colored checkered flag that is the emblem of the Andean cultures, along with the standard tri-colored Bolivian flag
Flag of Bolivia
The current flag of Bolivia was originally adopted by Bolivia in 1851. The state flag and ensign is a horizontal tricolor of red, yellow and green with the Bolivian coat of arms in the center...

."

In the 2002 presidential election
Bolivian presidential election, 2002
The 2002 Bolivian presidential election took place on 30 June 2002. The election took place on the same day as the 2002 Bolivian legislative election. No candidate won over half of the vote, therefore the National Congress of Bolivia elected the president from the two candidates who had received...

, Morales came in second place, a surprising upset for Bolivia's traditional parties. This made the indigenous activist an instant celebrity throughout the continent. Morales credited his near victory in part to comments made by then U.S. Ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 to Bolivia Manuel Rocha
Manuel Rocha
-Background:Rocha graduated from Taft School in 1969 and graduated from Yale University cum laude in 1973. He received a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1976 and a Master of Arts in international relations from Georgetown University in 1978.Rocha began his...

, who warned, "As a representative of the United States, I want to remind the Bolivian electorate that if you elect those who want Bolivia to become a major cocaine exporter again, this will endanger the future of U.S. assistance to Bolivia." Morales said that these remarks helped to "awaken the conscience of the people."

2005 presidential elections


{{Main|Bolivian presidential election, 2005}}

In 2005, President Carlos Mesa
Carlos Mesa
Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert is a Bolivian politician, historian and President of Bolivia from October 17, 2003 until his resignation on June 6, 2005....

 resigned under pressure by MAS and their supporters, led by Morales, by means of road blocks and riots. Because of this, and as a result of growing discontent and popular unrest, Congress and President Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé decided to move up the 2007 elections to December 2005.

At a gathering of farmers celebrating the 10th anniversary of the founding of MAS in March 2005, Morales declared, "MAS is ready to rule Bolivia", having "consolidated its position as the [prime] political force in the country". He also said, "the problem is not winning the elections anymore but knowing how to rule the country."

Preliminary polls placed Morales and the Movement for Socialism in an uncomfortable three-way tie with center and right wing forces and urban majority leaders Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Quiroga
Jorge Fernando "Tuto" Quiroga Ramírez was President of Bolivia from August 7, 2001 to August 6, 2002. He is of Spanish descent.-Background and early life:...

, from the party Social and Democratic Power (PODEMOS)
Social and Democratic Power
Podemos is the name of a right-of-center, pro-business Bolivian political party. It is a pseudo-acronym standing for 'Poder Democrático y Social' , but the word also means "We can."-Nationalist Democratic Action:...

, and Samuel Doria Medina, with only a few points' difference. By August 21, Morales had chosen his running mate for the presidential elections, left-wing ideologist, sociologist
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, mathematician
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, and political analyst Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro Marcelo García Linera is a Bolivian politician who has been Vice President of Bolivia since 2006.-Biography:He was born in Cochabamba and graduated from San Agustín High School. Then, he studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and became a mathematician...

, who fought alongside of Felipe Quispe
Felipe Quispe
Felipe Quispe Huanca "El Mallku" is an ethnic Aymara Bolivian political leader. He heads the Pachakuti Indigenous Movement and has also been general secretary of the United Union Confederation of Working Peasants of Bolivia...

 as part of the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army
Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army
The Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army is an indigenous guerrilla movement in Bolivia. The organization descends directly from the original revolutionaries trained by Che Guevara in the 1960s. Their objective is to fight for social equality in Bolivia and amongst its indigenous population...

 (EGTK).

By December 4, Morales had moved ahead in the polls to around 32% of the vote. Quiroga hovered around 27% with Samuel Doria Medina coming in at less than 15%. All of the parties promised national solidarity, nationalization (in some form) of the hydrocarbons, and wealth for the people.

On December 14, the Wall Street Journal reported, "Most polls give the 46-year-old Mr. Morales a lead of about 34% to 29% over his nearest rival, conservative former President Jorge Quiroga." Over 100,000 election judges were sworn in as the country prepared for the elections on December 18.

Exit polls were published almost as soon as voting closed, with Morales expected to win 42–45% of the vote and Quiroga 33–37%. Quiroga conceded defeat within a few hours.

By December 22, the official count was at 53.899% of the vote, with 98.697% of the ballots tallied, and no congressional vote was necessary to determine the winner.

Inauguration


On January 21, 2006, Morales attended an indigenous spiritual ceremony at the pre-Columbian archaeological site and modern spiritual center of Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku
Tiwanaku, is an important Pre-Columbian archaeological site in western Bolivia, South America. Tiwanaku is recognized by Andean scholars as one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire, flourishing as the ritual and administrative capital of a major state power for approximately five...

 where he was crowned as Apu Mallku
Apu Mallku
Apu Mallku is an Aymara title meaning "supreme leader" or "king" conferred on a Mallku or "prince". The Apu Mallku's mandate is to oversee the vast network of Ayllus, an ancient Andean system of governing councils that predates even the Inca empire...

 or Supreme Leader of the Aymara, the indigenous group to which Morales belongs, and received gifts from many groups representing indigenous peoples from various parts of Latin America and the world. Morales claims this is the first time since the days of Tupac Amaru
Túpac Amaru
Túpac Amaru, also called Thupa Amaro , was the last indigenous leader of the Inca state in Peru.-Accession:...

 that an indigenous person has held sovereign power in Bolivia. The ceremony was attended by the Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

n president, Janez Drnovšek
Janez Drnovšek
Janez Drnovšek was a Slovenian liberal politician, President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia , Prime Minister of Slovenia and President of Slovenia . He was born in Celje, Slovenia, then the Socialist Republic of Slovenia...

.

{{Quote box|width=246px|bgcolor= #ACE1AF|align=left|quote="In the world there are large and small countries, rich countries and poor countries, but we are equal in one thing, which is our right to dignity and sovereignty…"|source=Evo Morales, Inaugural Speech, 22 January 2006}}

For his official inauguration, Morales had a suit designed by fashion designer Beatriz Canedo Patiño
Beatriz Canedo Patiño
Beatriz Canedo Patiño is Bolivia's best-known fashion designer, born in La Paz. Beatriz Canedo specializes in Alpaca-based coats and suits. She actually designed, in secrecy, the presidential suit Evo Morales wore in his Presidential Official Inauguration, when the mass media was largely wondering...

, but Andeanized it by refusing to wear a tie and having an indigenous pattern sewn on. On January 22 he officially received power in a formal inauguration ceremony in La Paz attended by multiple heads of state, including Argentine President Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Carlos Kirchner was an Argentine politician who served as the 54th President of Argentina from 25 May 2003 until 10 December 2007. Previously, he was Governor of Santa Cruz Province since 10 December 1991. He briefly served as Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations ...

 and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

. Chilean President Ricardo Lagos
Ricardo Lagos
Ricardo Froilán Lagos Escobar is a lawyer, economist and social democrat politician, who served as president of Chile from 2000 to 2006. He won the 1999-2000 presidential election by a narrow margin in a runoff over Independent Democrat Union candidate Joaquín Lavín...

, whose country has had a history of diplomatic conflict with Bolivia (see War of the Pacific
War of the Pacific
The War of the Pacific took place in western South America from 1879 through 1883. Chile fought against Bolivia and Peru. Despite cooperation among the three nations in the war against Spain, disputes soon arose over the mineral-rich Peruvian provinces of Tarapaca, Tacna, and Arica, and the...

) was also present and met with the dignitary in private. Morales described his presidency as marking a new era, and that the 500 years of colonialism were now at an end.{{Citation needed|date=July 2011}} In his inaugural speech, Morales criticized the former politics of Bolivia, condemning it as "colonial" and likening it to South Africa under apartheid. He went on to describe how the MAS' election would lead to a "refoundation" of the country, a term that the MAS had consistently chosen over "revolution". He went on to further echo these viewpoints in his convocation of the Constituent Assembly, in which he proclaimed that "This is where the democratic and cultural revolution begins."

Policies


The British academic James Dunkerley noted that Morales had gathered together a cabinet made up of indigenous activists and leftist intellectuals which was, on the whole, "extremely inexperienced" at governing. Dunkerley went on to identify a wide range of philosophical influences upon the thinking of the intellectuals in the cabinet, ranging from post-structuralism
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s...

 to the works of Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 thinkers Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, René Zavaleta Mercado
René Zavaleta Mercado
René Zavaleta Mercado born in Oruro , died in Mexico City , was a Bolivian politician, sociologist and philosopher. Zavaleta was an extremely influential Bolivian thinker of the second half of twentieth century...

 and E.P. Thompson.

It was the stated intention of the Morales government to reduce Bolivia's most accute poverty levels, which affected 35% of the population, to 27% over the period of five years. During his first term in office, Morales improved the living standards of poor Bolivians, reducing levels of extreme poverty and illiteracy while significantly increased state intervention on the economy by nationalizing oil, mines, gas, and communications. Welfare provision was expanded, as characterized by the introduction of non-contributory old-age pensions and payments to mothers provided their babies are taken for health checks and that their children attend school. Hundreds of free tractors were also handed out. The prices of gas and many foodstuffs were controlled, and local food producers were made to sell in the local market rather than export. A new state-owned body was also set up to distribute food at subsidized prices. All these measures helped to curb inflation, while the economy (partly because of rising public spending) grew strongly, accompanied by stronger public finances which brought economic stability.

Soon after ascending to power, Morales traveled to Europe, where he chose to wear a traditional multicolored Andean jumper rather that a western suit, something that attracted the interest of western media.

In September 2008, Morales accused the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg
Philip Goldberg
Philip S. Goldberg is a United States diplomat who was Ambassador to Bolivia and was expelled by the Bolivian government in 2008, the eighth chief of mission in US diplomatic history to be declared persona non grata...

, of "conspiring against democracy" and encouraging civil unrest, and went on to order him to leave the country. The U.S. government responded to Morales' action by ordering the Bolivian ambassador, Gustavo Guzman
Gustavo Guzmán
Gustavo Guzmán Sepúlveda. Mr. Guzmán holds a BA in Communications from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey , where he also studied a Master Degree in Business....

, out of their own country. The following day Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez stood in solidarity with his Bolivian allies by ordering the U.S. ambassador Patrick Duddy
Patrick Duddy
Patrick Duddy is the United States Ambassador to Venezuela. He served from August 6, 2007 to September 11, 2008, during the Bush Administration, was expelled by Venezeulan President Hugo Chavez, and eight months later was returned as Ambassador by the Obama Administration...

 out of his country, telling him to "go to hell 100 times" and withdrawing the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S.

New Constitution


A constituent assembly was convened in 2006, which produced a final text of a new Constitution of Bolivia
Constitution of Bolivia
The current Constitution of Bolivia is the 17th constitution in the country's history; previous constitutions were enacted in 1826, 1831, 1834, 1839, 1843, 1851, 1861, 1868, 1871, 1878, 1880, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1961 and 1967. It came into effect on February 7, 2009, when it was promulgated by...

 in December 2007. It was approved in the Bolivian constitutional referendum, 2009. In the interim Morales faced an autonomy movement in the country's eastern departments
Media Luna
The Media Luna or Media Luna Ampliada refers to a group of four departments – Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, and Tarija – in Bolivia which became the geographic area of opposition to the national government led by Evo Morales and the Movement for Socialism...

, which after a failed referendum on recalling Morales
Bolivian vote of confidence referendum, 2008
A vote of confidence in President Evo Morales in the form of a referendum was held in Bolivia on 10 August 2008. The vote was held to determine whether Morales, Vice President Álvaro García Linera, and eight out of nine departmental Prefects should stay in office. Morales received more than 67%...

 culminated in the 2008 unrest in Bolivia
2008 unrest in Bolivia
The 2008 unrest in Bolivia began with protests against President Evo Morales and calls for greater autonomy for the country's eastern departments. Demonstrators escalated the protests by seizing natural gas infrastructure and government buildings...

, which the government accused the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 of supporting. Morales and the MAS government subsequently adopted autonomy as a government policy and departmental autonomies were recognized in the new Bolivian constitution, approved in a referendum in January 2009. As well as departmental autonomy, the new constitution recognizes municipal, provincial and indigenous autonomies.{{Citation needed|date=July 2011}}

Second Presidential Term: 2009-present



Following the approval of the new Constitution of Bolivia
Constitution of Bolivia
The current Constitution of Bolivia is the 17th constitution in the country's history; previous constitutions were enacted in 1826, 1831, 1834, 1839, 1843, 1851, 1861, 1868, 1871, 1878, 1880, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1961 and 1967. It came into effect on February 7, 2009, when it was promulgated by...

 in the January 2009 referendum, new elections were called. Morales won the 2009 general election
Bolivian general election, 2009
The Bolivian general election, 2009 was held on 6 December, 2009, following a constitutional referendum held on 25 January 2009. Voters elected:*President and Vice President of the Republic.*130 members of the Chamber of Deputies.*36 members of the Senate....

 with a landslide majority, polling 64%, an increase on his 54% victory four years previously. His primary opponent, former army officer Manfred Reyes Villa
Manfred Reyes Villa
Manfred Reyes Villa is a Bolivian politician, who was mayor of Cochabamba four times and ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2002 and 2009 against Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and Evo Morales Ayma. He founded and led the Nueva Fuerza Republicana political party...

, gained 27% of the vote, whilst cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina gained about 8%. Morales' party, the Movement for Socialism, also won a two-thirds majority in both the Chamber of Deputies
National Congress of Bolivia
The Plurinational Legislative Assembly also known as the National Congress is the national legislature of Bolivia, based in the nation's de facto capital, La Paz....

 and the Senate
National Congress of Bolivia
The Plurinational Legislative Assembly also known as the National Congress is the national legislature of Bolivia, based in the nation's de facto capital, La Paz....

. In response to his victory, Morales proclaimed that he was "obligated to accelerate the pace of change" in Bolivia, seeing his re-election as a mandate to further his socialist reforms.

Following the victory of Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 and the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, relations between Bolivia and the U.S. improved, although remained strained. After the U.S. backed the 2011 military intervention in Libya
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

 by NATO forces, Morales condemned Obama, calling for his Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 to be revoked; in this he was backed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky is a Russian politician, colonel of the Russian Army, founder and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia , Vice-Chairman of the State Duma, and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe....

, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia , Liberal'no-Demokraticheskaya Partiya Rossii is a political party in Russia. Since its founding in 1991, it has been led by the charismatic and controversial figure Vladimir Zhirinovsky...

. In November 2011, the Bolivian and U.S. government's agreed to restore diplomatic relations, although Morales refused to allow U.S. agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Drug Enforcement Administration
The Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States...

 (DEA) back into the country.

Protests


Bolivia faced national protests after the announcement of a supreme decree to cut government subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuels, increasing the prices of those commodities on December 28, 2010. The measures triggered widespread protests throughout the country, among groups including Morales's own political base. Following the protests, on 31 December 2010, Morales announced that the supreme decree would be annulled, saying that he was complying with his promise to "listen to the people". The protest measures were subsequently called off. His approval ratings, consistently high in his first term, have declined according to one poll.

He also faced protests
2011 Bolivian indigenous protests
The 2011 Bolivian protests were a series of demonstrations by lowland indigenous tribes who opposed the construction of the Villa Tunari – San Ignacio de Moxos Highway through the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory the ancestral lands of 5,000 indigenous people from 3 ethnic...

 in 2011 from indigenous groups for his plan to build a highway through the Amazon Basin that would encroach on the tribal lands of lowland indigenous tribes. He responded to the protests by initially calling them American lackeys, but later acceded to holding a referendum on the matter. A government crackdown later led to the resignation of his Defense Minister María Chacon
María Chacón Rendón
María Cecilia Chacón Rendón is a Bolivian lawyer, political scientist and the former Minister of Defense. As of taking office on 6 April 2011, she became the first woman to occupy that office. She served as General Director of Multilateral Relations and Chief of Cabinet for the Vice Ministry of...

.

Political ideology


{{Quote box|width=246px|bgcolor= #ACE1AF|align=right|quote="The worst enemy of humanity is capitalism. That is what provokes uprisings like our own, a rebellion against a system, against a neo-liberal model, which is the representation of a savage capitalism. If the entire world doesn't acknowledge this reality, that the national states are not providing even minimally for health, education and nourishment, then each day the most fundamental human rights are being violated."|source=Evo Morales}}

Although often vocal in his support of socialism, many commentators have noted that Evo Morales' political ideology, and the policies which his government have implemented, are not entirely socialist in nature. In his biography of the Bolivian president, the academic Sven Harten characterised Morales' ideology as "eclectic", drawing ideas from "various ideological currents". Harten also noted that whilst Morales uses fierce anti-imperialist and socialist rhetoric, he is neither "a hardcore anti-globalist nor a Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

", not having argued for the violent and absolute overthrow of capitalism or U.S. involvement in Latin America.

Additionally, Morales is an outspoken supporter of the iconic Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, who was killed by CIA-assisted Bolivian soldiers in 1967. On October 8, 2009, at a ceremony in Vallegrande
Vallegrande
Vallegrande is a small colonial town in Bolivia, located in the Department of Santa Cruz, some 125 km southwest of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. It is the capital of the Vallegrande Province and Vallegrande Municipality and serves as a regionally important market town...

, marking the 42nd anniversary of Che's death, Morales remarked that "Guevara is invincible in his ideals, and in all this history, after so many years, he inspires us to continue fighting, changing not only Bolivia, but all of Latin America and the world." As an additional sign of admiration, Morales has had a coca leaf portrait of Guerrillero Heroico
Guerrillero Heroico
Guerrillero Heroico is an iconic photo of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara wearing his black beret taken by Alberto Korda. It was taken on March 5, 1960, in Havana, Cuba, at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion and by the end of the 1960s turned the charismatic and...

installed in the presidential palace.

However, the Morales administrations' policies are not always thought of as socialist, instead being referred to as "Andean and Amazonian capitalism" by Vice President Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro García Linera
Álvaro Marcelo García Linera is a Bolivian politician who has been Vice President of Bolivia since 2006.-Biography:He was born in Cochabamba and graduated from San Agustín High School. Then, he studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and became a mathematician...

. Being a Marxist, García has argued that as a predominantly agricultural society, Bolivia does not contain a sufficiently large industrialized working class, or proletariat
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

, to enable it to convert into a socialist society
Socialism (Marxism)
In Marxist theory, socialism, or the socialist mode of production, refers to a specific historical phase of economic development and its corresponding set of social relations that eventually supersede capitalism...

 in the Marxist understanding of the word. For this reason García related that:
The MAS is in no sense seeking to form a socialist government. It is not viable because socialism is built on the basis of a strongly organised working class... Socialism is not constructed on the basis of a family economy
Family economy
Family Economy is used to denote the basic structure of production and consumption by Danny Pearson. In the family economy there were regional variations, which were how different places were different in family economy....

, which is what dominates in Bolivia, but on large industry... What is the model for Bolivia? A strong state, and that is capitalism... It isn't even a mixed system... What I do as a Marxist is evaluate the actual potential for development in society.


Writing in the Indian leftist magazine Economic and Political Weekly
Economic and Political Weekly
The Economic and Political Weekly is a left-leaning Indian magazine published from Mumbai by the Sameeksha Trust, a charitable trust. The magazine was first published in 1949 as the Economic Weekly and since 1966 was re-christened the Economic and Political Weekly. It was edited by Krishna Raj...

, the far left American academic James Petras
James Petras
James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues.-Academic and...

 (2007) argued that Morales' government during its first 15 months in office was neither socialist or anti-imperialist in nature, instead representing "an attempt to 'moralise' existing capitalist elites." He went on to argue that the Bolivian government had gained the support of Venezuela and Cuba, as well as socialists around the world, with Morales' rhetoric, but that the government's policies had failed to actually develop a socialist alternative.

Image


Morales' unorthodox behavior contrasts with the usual manners of dignitaries and other political leaders in Latin America. For example, on January 28, 2006 he cut his salary by 57% to $1,875 a month. He is single and, before the election, he shared a flat with other MAS officers. Consequently, his older sister, Esther Morales Ayma, fulfills the role of First Lady
First Lady
First Lady or First Gentlemanis the unofficial title used in some countries for the spouse of an elected head of state.It is not normally used to refer to the spouse or partner of a prime minister; the husband or wife of the British Prime Minister is usually informally referred to as prime...

. He has two children from different mothers, Eva Liz Morales Alvarado and Álvaro Morales Paredes; politician Juan del Granado
Juan del Granado
Juan del Granado is a Bolivian human-rights lawyer and politician, mayor of La Paz and founder of the Without Fear Movement , a progressive political party...

 is Eva Liz's godfather. Morales is also an association football enthusiast and plays the game frequently, often with local teams.

He also aroused much interest in his casual choice of dress after being pictured often in his striped sweater
Sweater
A sweater, jumper, pullover, sweatshirt, jersey or guernsey is a garment intended to cover the torso and arms. It is often worn over a shirt, blouse, T-shirt, or other top, but may also be worn alone as a top...

 with world leaders during his world tour. Some speculated that he would wear it to the official inauguration, where he actually dressed in a white collared dress shirt without a necktie (itself unheard of in Latin America in modern times for a head of state at their own inauguration) and a black suit jacket that was not a part of a conventional suit or tuxedo. He never dresses formally in any type of business suit. The sweater he often wears (in Bolivian Spanish, a chompa, a Quechua word, which is the root of the English word jumper
Sweater
A sweater, jumper, pullover, sweatshirt, jersey or guernsey is a garment intended to cover the torso and arms. It is often worn over a shirt, blouse, T-shirt, or other top, but may also be worn alone as a top...

) became his unofficial symbol and copies of it sold widely throughout Bolivia. Some accounts described Morales's signature sweater as alpaca
Alpaca
An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of to above sea level, throughout the year...

-wool; others reported that it was actually made of common acrylic
Acrylic fiber
Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from a polymer with an average molecular weight of ~100,000, about 1900 monomer units. To be called acrylic in the U.S, the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer. Typical comonomers are vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate...

, because native materials had become too expensive for most Bolivians and were sold mostly in the tourist trade.

Unlike many politicians, Morales failed to obtain an academic degree, although is known to cite academic work approvingly when it supports his arguments.

Ethnicity


Evo Morales is declared as the first Aymara president. However, there is some Amerindian heritage among prior Bolivian presidents, such as Andrés de Santa Cruz
Andrés de Santa Cruz
Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana was President of Peru and Bolivia...

 (1829—who claimed that through his mother he was descended from Inca rulers
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

, Mariano Melgarejo
Mariano Melgarejo
Manuel Mariano Melgarejo Valencia was the 19th President of Bolivia, from December 28, 1864, to January 15, 1871.-Early life:...

 (1864), Carlos Quintanilla
Carlos Quintanilla
General Carlos Quintanilla served as the de-facto President of Bolivia from August 1935 until April 1940. Quintanilla saw action during the Chaco War of 1932-35, and managed to ascend the echelon of the Bolivian armed forces until he became Commander of the Army during the administration of Germán...

 (1939), René Barrientos
René Barrientos
René Barrientos Ortuño was a Bolivian politician who served as his country's Vice President in 1964 and as its President from 1964 to 1969....

 (1964), Juan José Torres
Juan José Torres
Juan José Torres González was a Bolivian socialist politician and military leader. He served as President of Bolivia from October 7, 1970 to August 21, 1971. He was popularly known as "J.J."...

 (1976), Luis García Meza (1980), and Celso Torrelio
Celso Torrelio
Celso Torrelio Villa was a military general, a member of the Junta of Commanders of the Armed Forces , and de facto President of Bolivia between September 1981 and August 1982....

 (1981). None of these presidents were democratically elected, with the exception of Barrientos, who had the full support of the Bolivian military establishment. While the claim is a potent symbol, it has been challenged publicly by novelist and erstwhile right-wing Peruvian presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America's most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading authors of his generation...

, who accuses Morales of fomenting racial divisions in an increasingly mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

 South America.

The Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

an writer Eduardo Galeano
Eduardo Galeano
Eduardo Hughes Galeano is a Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist. His best known works are Memoria del fuego and Las venas abiertas de América Latina which have been translated into twenty languages and transcend orthodox genres: combining fiction, journalism, political analysis, and...

 responded to Vargas Llosa saying: "I see what is happening in Bolivia as a very significant act of affirmation of diversity [which is opposite to] racism, elitism and militarism, which leave us blind to our marvellous existence, to that rainbow that we are". Although Morales has sometimes been described as the first indigenous president to be democratically elected in Latin America, this description in fact goes to Benito Juarez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

, a Mexican of the Zapotec
Zapotec
The Zapotecs are an indigenous people of Mexico. The population is concentrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, but Zapotec communities exist in neighboring states, as well. The present-day population is estimated at approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000 persons, many of whom are monolingual in one...

 ethnic group, was elected President of Mexico in 1858.

Controversies


Since he took office in 2006, several local and international analysts and human rights organizations have observed that many of the actions and policies of the Morales government have substantially eroded the rule of law and threaten to weaken the situation of human rights in Bolivia.

External links


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Eduardo Rodríguez
Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé is a former president of Bolivia; prior to that appointment he was the chief justice of the Supreme Court.-Background:...

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President of Bolivia
The President of Bolivia is head of state and head of government of Bolivia. According to the current Constitution, the president is elected by popular vote to a five year term, renewable once...

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Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...


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Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 of the Unasur member states
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There are currently 12 member states of the Union of South American Nations.Of these, four belong to the Andean Community of Nations , and four to Mercosur.-UNASUL member states:-observer states:...


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{{Persondata
| NAME =Morales, Evo
| ALTERNATIVE NAMES =
| SHORT DESCRIPTION =
| DATE OF BIRTH =October 26, 1959
| PLACE OF BIRTH =Orinoca
Orinoca
Orinoca is a district in the Andamarca Municipality in the Bolivian Sud Carangas Province in Oruro Department.-Location:The Orinoca District is located at , 3,800 m above sea-level, on the western shore of Lake Poopó, 180 km south of Oruro...

, Oruro
Oruro Department
Oruro is a department in Bolivia, with an area of 53,588 km². Its capital is the city of Oruro. At the time of census 2001 it had a population of 391,870.- Provinces of Oruro :...

, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...


| DATE OF DEATH =
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