THE profound democratic and cultural revolution initiated in Bolivia in 2006 with the coming to government power of President Evo Morales, has reached its seventh year of struggle, having come a long way, with important victories won and challenges met.
The President addressed the Legislative Assembly on the third anniversary of the establishment of the Plurinational State of Bolivia under a new constitution and presented a detailed account of his administration’s work over this time-period. He described the government’s principal accomplishments, the economic prosperity Bolivia is experiencing and the consequent reduction of poverty – emphasizing that “The era of neoliberalism will not return,” Telesur reported.
In his speech, Morales announced a long-term plan, projected through 2025, which has as its objective the development of a “just, equitable society.”
He put special emphasis on the goals of eradicating extreme poverty, guaranteeing basic services for all and developing industries to produce finished products with the country’s raw materials.
Morales reported that basic poverty has been reduced from 60.5% in 2005 to 45% in 2011. Extreme poverty was 38.2% in 2005, reduced to 20.9% by 2011.
He recalled the delivery of 83,473 computers to teachers across the country, in fulfillment of a commitment made in 2009, and said, “In no country of the world have teachers been afforded computers, and now we are moving toward their provision to every student, this is the goal.”
Morales also reported that last year, Bolivia surpassed the United Nations Millennium Goal for the availability of potable water, another accomplishment of the administration. He indicated that plans are underway for the implementation of the third phase of the national water program.
Morales emphasized, however, that much remains to be done in the area of health and called on medical personnel to dedicate themselves to working for better healthcare for the Bolivian people.
In the economic arena, the President reported that the Gross Domestic Product grew 5.1% in 2012, while exports increased by $3.6 billion. The inflation rate stands at 4.54%, he said, one of the lowest in Latin America. He also commented on growth in the country’s net hard currency reserves, which stood at $1.7 billion in 2006 and have now reached more than $14 billion.
Morales recalled that the crucial contribution made by the mining sector to the country’s finances has grown by approximately 1156% since 2006, when he first took office. He specified that public investment made possible by the metallurgical-mining sector came to a total of $231 million over the period 2006-2012, eleven times greater than the $20 million generated between 1999 and 2005, according to Prensa Latina.
The President also addressed important projects such as the comprehensive development of the Salar de Uyuni salt flats, the construction of a pilot lithium carbonate plant and one for the manufacture of lithium batteries. He described these efforts as significant steps toward achieving national sovereignty over mining, saying that chains of submission had been broken and that the commitment to nationalizing natural resources and strategic services was being fulfilled.
On the international level, Morales confirmed his attendance at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Summit in Chile.
He asserted that the country had contributed to the development of regional bodies and agreements, “to construct and strengthen alliances of the South,” saying that Bolivia has promoted the organization of the world’s peoples, with respect for the earth, without domination or imperial hegemony, according to Telesur.
In regards to relations with the United States, President Morales reaffirmed that Bolivia is a dignified and sovereign nation, which seeks relations with “any nation in the world whatsoever – be it of the left or the right. They have no reason to coerce us or subjugate us,” he said, referring to U.S. intervention in Bolivia’s internal affairs.
He expressed optimism that by 2025, the country will recover its access to the Pacific Ocean, a continuing Bolivian demand of Chile, which acquired the territory in the war of 1879.
The first indigenous president in Bolivia’s history assumed the position January 22, 2006, after winning 53.7% of votes in presidential elections and was reelected with 64%, for the current 2010-2015 term. (SE)