Evo Evo Evo!

Bolivia’s Evo Morales has been re-elected to presidency, with at least 61% of the vote, which is great news for the country.

I remember last year when Evo won the recall referendum with a similar figure, there were a few articles on the Guardian that caught the attention – in equal measure – of socialists and neo-libs who were either overjoyed at or concerned with the rise of the left in South America. Another minor voice emerged, saying that what Evo wanted in Bolivia was based on ethnicity alone. A couple of comments appeared on the CiF thread – for an article written by Benjamin Dangl in his provocatively titled ‘Neoliberalism ends here‘ (quoted of Morales himself I believe) – saying that this is simply what the BNP want; a revolution for its indigenous population (who make up around 65% of the population).

There are countless errors attached to such a comparison with the popular movements of South America and the far-right of Britain, but this is what I said at the time, not long after visiting the country myself:

The Bolivian government plaster immigration controls with egalitarian posters and promotion of respect for all peoples; their anti-colonial stance is straight from the book of Simon Bolivar, not the British National Party – for goodness sake! – who use the term indigenous rights to mask their hatred of asylum seekers and such terms as “black british”! Its a modest attempt, tommyjimmy and Janissary [two commenters floating this strange comparison], but it doesn’t cut the mustard! Thanks to the concentration of capital in Bolivia the people of the altiplano has suffered. The rights due to be bestowed upon them on the advent of Morales have never been granted them before, not with any previous puppet governments nor corrupt rightwingers in the pockets of the rich. Your attempts to paint Morales as a belligerent racial warrior, is tantamount to the active white racism that exists quite forcefully in the oil-rich, European-ised departments like Santa Cruz, who, like Waldo Velle, wouldn’t ever vote for an indian on the grounds that they are ‘ignorant’. Its these issues Morales wants to curb, and quite right too.

The “Half-Moon” departments (Beni, Pando, Santa Cruz, Tarija) – usually where the anti-Morales sentiment is concentrated  – could not bring to the table any popular alternative, the closest being the former army captain Manfred Reyes Villa who finished in second place, with a flimsy 23% of the vote.

Morales has said that he plans to make moves to put more of the economy – which is now no longer the poorest in South America – into governmental control. Right now 85 per cent of its national gas profits go into the state, and are used to fund highways, schools, and 24-hour energy resources for those living in the altiplano:

Many once only had three or four hours of electricity. But, thanks to Morales’ initiatives, now have up to eight hours of light due to solar panelling. Morales’ future plans are to introduce 24 hours of energy a day in these once forgotten places, and also to pave their mountainous roads with concrete.