8/16/2008

Bolivia: Divided we rule

A boost for Bolivia's president as he wins a referendum on his rule, but divisions persist

CRIES of "Evo, brother, the people are with you!" resounded on Sunday August 10th in front of Bolivia's presidential palace. The revellers were celebrating victory by the country's socialist president, Evo Morales, in a referendum on whether he should remain in office. He not only survived but appears to have emerged with a stronger mandate, according to unofficial results (official ones are due at the end of the week). These suggest that Mr Morales secured over 60% support, more than the 54% he won in a presidential election in December 2005.

But his chief opponents, the governors of four eastern regions, also appear to have had their mandates confirmed by the recall referendum, with thumping majorities. The referendum has thus confirmed Bolivia's political divide between the impoverished, Amerindian, high plains in the west, which remains strongly loyal to Mr Morales, and the more prosperous, capitalist and gas-rich eastern lowlands, which backs the opposition. ...



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