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January 22, 2006

More Morales...because today is his inauguration day

Figured out the reasoning behind yesterday's coca coverage - today is Morales' inauguration. Today, the NYT reported Morales donned replications of traditional ancient indigenous leader garb for a ceremony at the pre-Incan capital Tiwanaku, which proclaimed him the leader of all of Bolivia's Indian tribes. It was the first such ceremony for a Bolivian president, which makes sense since Morales is the first indigenous president since Bolivia became independent.

Interesting historic note in article: There is still tension between Bolivia and Chile because Chile won a 19th century war and appropriated Bolivian access to the Pacific Ocean, making it a land-locked country. (FYI, Mexico similarly appropriated a large amount of Guatemalan territory.)

Morales met with the US Ambassador to Bolivia and the Undersecretary of State for the Western Hemisphere on Saturday and everyone declared it a productive first meeting.

On the other hand, Morales met with Cuban reporters this morning and La Prensa quoted him:

In his modest La Paz-based residency, and after admitting his nervousness for the task he is about to face, the new president underlined the commitment he has taken before the "Pacha Mama" (Motherland.)

"As president I ought to work for my country, regain its natural resources, think about the well-being of the Motherland, about its deities, about my parents, about Bolivia, either asleep or awake," he said.

I wonder if Morales is living in La Paz or Cochabamba, where his residence is, according to the NYT. Cochabamba is a poor suburb of La Paz, known best for its citizens fight against Bechtel's attempt to privatize all of their water supply, including rainwater. (Bechtel dropped its $25 million claim against Bolivia this week.)

I love the fact that an indigenous politician from the poorest country in the Americas has captured the world's attention. I hope people, especially the Bolivian people, give him time to get his government up and running before passing judgment on his administration.

As the NYT points out, even Hugo Chavez, leader of oil-rich Venezuela has infrastructure problems. (The main road between Caracas and its airport was shut down due to soil erosion, causing pressure on the domestic economy.) I think it takes a long time to overcome the problems of colonialism, especially when faced with the imperialist-style foreign policy of the Bush administration.

More info:
"Bolivia's Leader Solidifies Region's Leftward Tilt," by Juan Forero and Larry Rohter in the NYT
"Evo Morales Has a Dream for Bolivia," by Luis Enrique González of Prensa Latina
"Morales's rise inspires Andean groups: Indigenous organizations in the region hope to gain a boost from Evo Morales's victory in Bolivia." by Lucien Chauvin of the Christian Science Monitor
"Bolivia's Morales pledges to work with US," from Reuters via New Zealand's Stuff
"Bolivia's Morales Set to Take Office" by the AP via the IHT
"Bolivia to Hand Power to First Indigenous President," by Reuters via NYT

Posted by cj at January 22, 2006 10:58 AM


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