The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

A questioning of Morales

Janie Boschma

It has been over two years since Bolivia chose its 80th president, Juan Evaristo Morales Ayma, better known as Evo Morales. Many people may praise him, saying we should be proud to have our first indigenous president. But there’s nothing to praise on how he is governing Bolivia.

Yes, Evo Morales claims to be the first fully indigenous president in the past 470 years since the Spanish Conquest. He is the first president to win elections with an overwhelming majority of 53 percent. But over the past two years, he has rapidly lost the people’s support.

According to a May 5 CNN article, people in Santa Cruz de la Sierra held a referendum to declare themselves autonomous from Morales. Even though people broke into polling places and burned ballots, the damage was only in 3 percent of the polling places. In April, over 80 percent of the advertisements on TV were made by Morales’ government, attacking the autonomy concept. By the end of the day, 85 percent voted for the autonomy of Santa Cruz.

Let me tell you that as a Bolivian, I also thought Morales would bring a dramatic change to my country, but not the kind of “good” change many people thought. Bolivia and Morales are not what people think, and I want to set the record straight with facts, so people think twice before praising Morales.

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According to his official Web site, Morales was born in 1959 and by 1980 he moved to the tropics of Cochabamba, located in the eastern Bolivian lowlands. There he joined a union of illegal coca growers. By 1988, he became the leader of Bolivia’s Cocalero (Spanish for people who grow coca leaf) movement. It was during this time the Bolivian government, encouraged by the United States, began promoting programs to eradicate coca production, which Morales opposed. He encouraged natives to riot and block roads. He once blockaded a major road for 40 days, causing many exporters great losses in the foreign markets. Each time, the government was forced to negotiate with him. Even though he is currently the president of Bolivia, he has not given up his presidency at the cocalero movement and still encourages natives to block roads and riot.

Once elected, he appointed high government officials with no experience nor education related to their appointed fields. For example, Morales appointed Casimira Rodriguez to justice minister, a former maid. The Seattle Times, in an April 2006 article, showed Rodriguez had no law degree or legal training. Also, a former administrative clerk was placed as a president of the Hydrocarbon Service.

I remember Morales said he wanted to bring in more diversity to the government. But this is just irresponsible and shows he is abusing his power.

Lately, Morales has been trying to pass a new constitution. For that he calls for meetings to vote on the new laws that he wants to pass. Such laws include section four of our constitution, the “right to property.” Article 56 states “every person has the right to individual or collective private property, whenever this serves a social function.” Article 57 says, “expropriation will be imposed if the land is necessary or for public use, or when the property does not serve social function.”

What this means is – say your parents or your family own a house with five children. After all the children go off to college, the government can take away a piece of your land and leave your parents with only the land they use. If your parents don’t use the land or if a person is not living on that piece of land, it does not serve a “social function.” Inheritance will be outlawed if this constitution is enforced. The government will take it away from citizens, much like in Cuba.

Morales passes these laws illegally. He calls for meetings to pass them in congress and brings natives to block the entrance, not letting the opposition pass until he has approved the laws. Morales does not allow other congressmen to oppose his new laws.

According to a Feb. 29 article in La Razon, a Bolivian newspaper, rural natives surrounded the congress where they beat up and spat on two parliament women who tried to enter and partake in the session discussing Bolivia’s political crisis. Ninoska Lazarte said she was arguing with the women who would not let her pass and she felt something hit her shoulder. When she turned around the women started to push her around, while other women would pull her hair until she fell. The moment she got up to leave, men and women surrounded her and kicked her, beat her with sticks and pushed her around while others insulted her. The beating lasted approximately five minutes.

“They hit me with a miner’s helmet in my back. They spat at me as much as they wanted. They threw me plates of food, they kicked me and the worst of all is that they did it in front of the police,” she said to La Razon.

Lazarte said if it wouldn’t have been for the press who helped her out, she would have been beaten up more severely. It seems Bolivia is living under a dictatorship since people who go against the government get forcibly silenced. It won’t be too long until they put people in jail for opposing the government.

During his presidency, Morales failed to comply with the call for dialog. The Bolivian’s vice president once called opposition congressmen for a discussion and locked them up in his office. He then went to the congress to approve laws without any debate.

It’s the first time in more than 20 years Bolivia has reached a two-digit inflation. During his two years in office, over 30 people have been killed as a result of government-supported mobs or inaction/reaction to calm down citizens in conflict, according to the Center of Investigation of International Relations and Development Studies. Illegal coca growing fields have increased and resulted in at least two cocaine labs being seized every week in the most conflictive city in Bolivia, El Alto.

Morales has issued decrees to ban and stop the legal export of soy oil production. He has succeeded in polarizing Bolivia, making people fight on the basis of race, color, income and place of birth. He also illegally approved the work of his political appointees in the new constitution, has not enforced the law and has not complied with regulations.

Even though Morales condemns capitalism and attacks the imperialistic United States, he engages in alliances with Hugo Chavez from Venezuela and populist Latin America and Caribbean presidents of Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador, according to the CNN article. He also signed a treaty with Iran and has supported the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia publicly.

Bolivia has a majority of mestizo-mixed population, but we can not be governed by a group of resentful individuals. They still claim they are indigenous and that the Spanish oppressed them after conquering Bolivia. Well, the Spanish have been gone since 1809, even though our Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed until 1825. Shielded by their indigenous origin, natives have only brought hate and racism over the whole country. I have never seen so much hatred in my country.

Beni, Pando and Tarija, three more Bolivian provinces, will also hold a referendum asking for autonomy. Cochabamba and Chuquisaca are also advocating autonomy. This shows how the Bolivian people reject Morales’ government and his illegal draft for a new constitution.

Because of space limit, I cannot give more facts, but I hope this suffices to make you realize why Evo Morales does not deserve to be praised.

Lozano is a junior print journalism major and copy editor of The Spectator.

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A questioning of Morales