. . . A fierce critic of U.S. policies who helped lead violent street uprisings that toppled two predecessors, Morales raised a clenched fist in a leftist salute to become Bolivia’s first Indian president.
He defiantly declared that his election marks the beginning of the end to hundreds of years of oppression against Bolivia’s impoverished Indian majority, recalling that just decades ago Indians had no place on segregated sidewalks.
“I wish to tell you, my Indian brothers, that the 500-year indigenous and popular campaign of resistance has not been in vain,” Morales said, promising his government would move to squelch discrimination dating to the Spanish conquest in 1520.
The 46-year-old son of a poor peasant farmer, Morales vowed in his inaugural speech that his socialist government, now embarking on a five-year term, would reshape Bolivia, as he lashed out at free market economic prescriptions, calling them a failure in attempts to end chronic poverty here.
“The neoliberal economic model has run out,” Morales loudly declared after taking up the red, yellow and green sash in the colors of the Bolivian flag. . .
I know any leader can turn bad (politicians usually do) but I really got a good feeling about Evo Morales. And I’m so glad to see an Indian in office in the Americas for once.