Evo Morales wins presidential elections in Bolivia

Monday, December 19, 2005

The New York Times has reported that Evo Morales has won presidential elections in Bolivia. Morales ran on a campaign of restoring coca farming in Bolivia, in spite of the United States' program to wipe out coca growing (in an effort to reduce the cocaine business). Morales is an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer himself. Morales described his victory as a signal that "a new history of Bolivia begins, a history where we search for equality, justice and peace with social justice."

At 9pm last night Jorge Quiroga conceded defeat saying, "I congratulate Evo Morales." The National Electoral Court had yet to confirm the votes as of Sunday night, but Morales is expected to win easily. According to the Bolivian media based on exit polling, Morales is expected to receive 51 percent of the vote, compared to 30 percent for his nearest rival, Jorge Quiroga.

Evo Morales' government will be the first to be led by an indigenous president in the nation's history. Morales' left of center policies, especially his support for the coca industry will likely not make him a popular Latin American figure for the Bush administration in the United States, who might be afraid of a closer alliance between Morales, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Fidel Castro of Cuba, and even the more moderate but still left-of-center Luiz Lula da Silva of Brazil.

Morales has commented saying that under his administration there will be "zero cocaine, zero narco-trafficking but not zero coca." In addition to being against the U.S. policy of coca extermination, Morales is also against many of the neoliberal policies of the past Bolivian governments, including free trade agreements. However he might have some difficulty getting through his new programs as the Movement Toward Socialism party to which he is a member did not win control of the congress.