Bolivians vote to keep Morales

Published on People’s World, by: W. T. Whitney Jr., December 7 2009.

The stakes were high for President Evo Morales going into presidential and legislative elections on December 6. “We have gained the government but still don’t have power,” he said.

That worry is over. Morales, Vice President Alvaro García Linera, and the Movement toward Socialism Party (MAS) swept up 62 percent of the ballots cast by 5.1 million voters to win a second four year term.

Trailing by up to 40 points in pre-election polls, lead opponent Manfred Reyes of the Progressive Plan for Bolivia party took 23 percent of the votes. He was already ticketed for a December 8 American Airlines departure for Miami. The former Cochabamba prefect, a School of the Americas graduate, faces corruption charges …  

… Peasant communities have received 1,400 free tractors, and $237 million have been spent on 2,810 public works, sanitation, and drinking water projects. Agrarian reform has delivered 10 million acres to poor farmers with another 25 million acres ready for transfer.

Nationalization of hydrocarbons led to $5 billion being transferred to local governments and universities. That funding has provided pregnant women and babies with $257 each, 700,000 seniors with $342 annually, and two million young students with annual grants for school supplies.

Bolivia is one of seven countries with the sharpest drop recently in infant mortality. Illiteracy has been eradicated, and 450,000 free eye operations have been performed. Free health care is available. Bolivia is now a “plurinational” state representing 36 nationalities. Three indigenous universities have been founded. Unemployment, however, rose from 10.2 percent to 11 percent over the past year.

“The results will mark another milestone for the country,” Morales commented, “because the so-called half moon area (the contentious eastern departments) will no longer exist, being converted into a full moon of unity among all Bolivians.” (full text).

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