By Andres Gaudin
The overwhelming re-election victory of President Evo Morales, which ensures his continued leadership of the Bolivian government until January 2015, is a watershed moment in the South American country. Uruguayan Sen. Constanza Moreira, also a political analyst, said, "The most profound process of change since the Cuban Revolution is taking place in Latin America."
Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, an academic who has become Morales' principal associate and ideological ally, is even more explicit. In a Dec. 5 interview with the Argentine daily Clarin, he explained the role the state plays and must continue playing. "In a society where the national business class is very weak, someone has to assume the building of modernity, integration, and well-being. And that someone is the state," said Garcia Linera. "Neoliberals believed that foreign investment was going to play that role, and they were wrong. Today we have a state with a productive role in oil, energy, finance, mining, and agroindustry, a state that regulates and balances. During the last four years, there was a noisy political revolution in Bolivia and an almost silent but much more rapid and overwhelming economic revolution."
Morales, an Aymara Indian, has been confirmed with increasing numbers in four consecutive elections--two presidential, a recall referendum, and a consultation to reform the Constitution (see NotiSur, 2006-01-06, 2006-08-04, 2007-12-14, 2008-08-15). In the Dec. 6 election, he received almost twice the number of votes as all opposition candidates combined, and his supporters won more than two-thirds of the seats in both houses of the legislature, giving him a mandate for any political, economic, or institutional reform. For the first time, he was able to drive a strong wedge and break the hegemony of the ultra-right in four departments that are strongholds of the opposition with secessionist aspirations and to win approval for the autonomy statutes in 12 indigenous communities and in five other departments that have not yet opted for autonomy. And, what is fundamental, he obtained unimaginable political backing allowing him to begin his new term with the freedom to strengthen his socialist program.
Second term will bring new challenges
After overcoming the test of being the first indigenous president in 184 years of Bolivian independence thanks to a program of social inclusion and economic nationalism, Morales now faces a difficult task. In his...