The process of radical change in south American continued apace last Sunday with the return to power of progressive Bolivian president Evo Morales who was re-elected in a landslide victory that saw him garner the votes of 67 per cent of the Bolivian electorate.
Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) won control of over two-thirds of the Bolivian congress which will allow it to alter the constitution and introduce a variety of reforms.
Morales, south America’s first indigenous president and a former cocoa farmer, declared that the result “obliges me to accelerate the process of great change”. Notably, Morales’ nearest rival, the rightist Manfred Reyes Villa took just 27 per cent of the vote. Reyes Villa was a prominent figure in the alliance of the Bolivian capitalist class that attempted to destabilise the new government through a lockout that took place in 2007.
Since his election in 2005, Morales has undertaken a programme of wealth-redistribution in what is south America’s poorest country. The MAS, a party which represents poorer cocoa-farmers, organised labour and the traditionally marginalised Indian majority, has nationalised various key industries such as natural gas production. The proceeds of such initiatives have been used to fund infrastructural projects as well as providing social services and literacy programmes amongst the deprived of Bolivia. These reforms have seen the likes of health care and education become available to many in Bolivia for the first time.
Morales’ landslide re-election demonstrates the fact that people in south America are seeking an alternative to the neo-liberal capitalism that has ran rampant in the continent for decades.
More and more people are turning to progressive movements such as the MAS and similar groups in countries such as Ecuador. Morales also works closely with the revolutionary governments of Cuba and Venezuela in providing a political and economic counterweight to US-influence in the region.
However, as the recent coup in Honduras and attempted-coups elsewhere have demonstrated, the right and the traditional ruling class (often backed by the US) are determined to resist such change and will do anything in their power to do so; as such, it is important that socialists and progressives everywhere should support the movements in south America who are showing us all that another system is possible.
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