Morales sworn in as Bolivia’s first indigenous president


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Bolivia's new leader vows change

Evo Morales has been sworn in as Bolivia's first 
indigenous president, pledging to end "500 years" 
of injustice against his people.

"We're here to change our history... we're taking over," Mr Morales said.

He reaffirmed his pledge to "recover" the 
country's natural resources by renationalising 

Thousands of Bolivians and many foreign 
dignitaries witnessed the colourful ceremony at 
the Congress in La Paz.

"I wish to tell you, my Indian brothers, that the 
500-year indigenous and popular campaign of 
resistance has not been in vain," Mr Morales, an 
Aymara Indian, said during an emotional speech.

     We must change with votes not bullets
     Evo Morales
     Bolivian President

"We're taking over now over the next 500 years. 
We're going to put an end to injustice, to 

The 46-year-old former llama herder and coca leaf 
farmer said the free-market model did not work in 
Bolivia, and that the privatisation of basic 
services and natural resources should be reversed.

"When we talk about recovering the territory we 
are talking about recovering the natural 
resources, and these need to be in the hands of 
the Bolivian people and the Bolivian state," he 

He also acknowledged the magnitude of the task 
during his five-year term, as Bolivia still 
remains South America's poorest country, 
correspondents say.

Mr Morales is a fierce critic of the US and sees 
his election as a triumph for indigenous peoples.

Sun priest

Leaders attending Sunday's inauguration included 
Spain's Crown Prince Felipe, Luiz Inacio Lula da 
Silva of Brazil, Javier Solana representing the 
European Union and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who 
called Mr Morales "an emissary sent by God".

We need the strength of the people to bend the hand of the empire
Evo Morales

They were not present at Saturday's indigenous 
ceremonies at the archaeological remains of the 
Tiwanaku civilisation 65km (40 miles) from La Paz.

On Saturday, Mr Morales made a private offering 
to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, of sweets, wine 
and flowers, before moving to the pre-Inca temple 
of Kalasasaya.

There, barefoot and dressed as a sun priest and 
in front of thousands of supporters, he received 
the baton, encrusted with gold, silver and 
bronze, that will symbolise his Indian leadership.

The BBC's Daniel Schweimler in Bolivia says the 
ceremony was requested by Bolivia's indigenous 
community, which feels it has had a raw deal ever 
since the Spanish conquistadores colonised the 
region more than 500 years ago.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/01/22 22:22:43 GMT


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