[Marxism] Anti-U.S. party a big winner in Bolivia's mayoral elections

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 6 10:01:13 MST 2004

(Cuba will be delighted with this news as the MAS led
by Evo Morales is and has long been a strong supporter
of the Cuban Revolution. Last week we saw the Bolivian
Foreign Minister visiting Cuba, and one of the members
of his entourage was an indiginous woman. The rise of
indiginous peoples, such as Evo Morales and others in
Latin America marks a further breakdown of the rule 
of the old white Spanish ruling classes in the region
along with their traditional political instruments.)

Posted on Sun, Dec. 05, 2004

Anti-U.S. party a big winner in Bolivia's mayoral elections


Knight Ridder Newspapers

LA PAZ, Bolivia - (KRT) - Bolivians overwhelmingly rejected
their traditional political parties in electing 327 mayors
Sunday, with the Movement Toward Socialism, led by an
implacable foe of globalization and of the United States,
emerging as the country's biggest political party.

But Evo Morales, an Indian who heads Movement Toward
Socialism, will have a difficult time claiming victory
because MAS, as it is known in Spanish, won about 20
percent of the vote nationwide and did not win any of the
country's eight biggest cities.

The big winners were such newly created independent parties
as the Fearless Movement, headed by La Paz Mayor Juan del
Granado, who cruised to re-election.

Jose Luis Paredes, who heads another independent political
party, easily won re-election in El Alto, a city of 800,000
on the flat land overlooking La Paz.

"Our democracy has entered a profound crisis thanks to the
traditional parties," del Granado said in an interview just
after voting. "They have governed us over the past 20
years, and life is no better."

Alvaro Garcia, a sociologist, said the traditional parties,
which go by their Spanish initials - MNR, NFR, MIR and ADN
- won no more than 10 percent of the vote combined Sunday,
compared to 60 percent in the 2002 presidential election.

"They have suffered a catastrophic fall," Garcia said,
blaming this on corruption and their support of President
Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who was forced to resign in
October 2003 and go into exile after government troops
killed 70 people.

They were among the thousands of Bolivians protesting
Sanchez de Lozada's plan to export a portion of the
country's huge natural gas reserves to Chile, Bolivia's
hated southern neighbor.

The street uprising that toppled Sanchez de Lozada ushered
Vice President Carlos Mesa into power. Since then, Mesa has
attempted to steer a middle ground in a country racked by
ethnic division - the Indian majority is demanding a
greater voice - and geographical division: Santa Cruz in
the east favors free trade policies while La Paz and El
Alto residents in the west believe that foreign companies
exploit the country's natural resources.

Mesa, an independent and political novice, had no
particular stake in Sunday's elections other than
maintaining the country's fragile democracy.

Morales became a political heavyweight when he surprised
analysts by winning 21 percent of the vote in the 2002
presidential election, two points behind Sanchez de Lozada,
who then won the presidency through a vote by Congress.

Morales became a foe of the United States for vigorously
defending coca farmers in the Chapare region in central

Morales has allied himself with Cuba's Fidel Castro and
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, but he has also showed a pragmatic
side by helping prop up the Mesa government, even as the
traditional political parties hope Mesa will be forced to
resign and call early elections.

With a strong base in rural towns, MAS was expected to win
about half of the mayoral races, but the rural results
weren't fully available late Sunday night.


C 2004, The Miami Herald.

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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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