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Evo Morales re-elected as president

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In a victory for both the candidate and his allies, President Evo Morales of Bolivia won the presidential election and the allied MAS Party (Movement Towards Socialism) took control of both the Senate and Lower House of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, the successor to the prior national Congress.

On Dec. 7, it was declared that Morales, the hemisphere’s only indigenous president, won his re-election bid against Manfred Reyes Villa, a right-wing ex military official by a wide margin, garnering a little more than 63 percent to Villa’s 28 percent.

Other opponents included businessman Samuel Doria Medina with six percent and Rene Joaquino, the former allied mayor of Potosi, with two percent of the vote.

The victories for the allied MAS Party were also significant, with MAS Senators now holding 24 of the 36 Senate seats while Villa’s Plan Progress Party won 10 slots; and in the Lower House, 85 of 130 positions, allowing the MAS Party to maintain its majority status.

Further breakdown of the voting patterns showed that Morales had strong support in the capital province of La Paz with 80 percent, and 80 percent of voters from Oruro, 77 percent from Potosi and he earned 48 percent in Tarija and 52 percent in Chuquisaca, two regions that previously went to the opposition. Even though Villa took the opposition stronghold of Santa Cruz with 53 percent of the vote, Morales still garnered 40 percent in that region, which has seen some of the worst anti-Morales violence since he took office.

Campaign analysts also pointed out that Morales won 50 percent of the votes of 170,000 Bolivians living overseas in the countries of Argentina, Brazil, the United States and Spain.

In contrast to other Bolivian elections, the recent contests were peaceful and fair according to international observers. The Organization of American States issued a press statement asserting that the election conditions were “very positive” and Jose Antonio de Gabriel, European Union’s observation team assistant director, said there was a “climate of tranquility and peace” on election day.

In his acceptance speech, given a few hours after most of the votes were counted, Morales said his victory has national and international importance.

“The triumph of Bolivia is not only for the Bolivians; this triumph is, fundamentally, a just recognition, a dedication, to the anti-imperialist presidents, governments and peoples,” he said, referencing the signatories of the ALBA Treaty of Commerce, the acronym in Spanish of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America, which includes Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Ecuador, Dominica, St. Vincent, Antigua and Barbuda.

“We have an enormous responsibility with Bolivia, but also with all life and humanity, to deepen and accelerate the process of change,” Morales said. “That we obtained more than two-thirds (in the Assembly) obliges us, obliges me, to accelerate the process of change.”

He also said that while he intended to move forward with the new Constitution and his policies that were aimed at the “decolonization and nationalization” of Bolivia, he also wanted to try and work with his opponents.

“I arranged for a conference with authorities who don’t want to work with Evo; to mayors, civic leaders, business owners and intellectuals who doubt us. That they come to work for the Bolivian people, because we are a culture of dialogue.”

For Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, the presidential and congressional victories were also signals that the Bolivian people had “rejected” the violent opposition that had flared up several times in the previous four years.

“The big losers of this election were the ultraconservative and radical right,” Linera said. “Their attempts failed as the social conscience of the Bolivian people rejected them, and then they financed mercenary terrorists to try and cultivate violence in Bolivia for the purpose of trying to provoke divisiveness, but that also failed.”

In his speech, given Dec. 13, Linera acknowledged that not all of the opposition was extreme or violent.

“It must be recognized that a democratic opposition exists in this country, but that there is another, more savage opposition, that through all forms, seeks to destabilize the democratic process and the government itself.”