LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) – At least 10 heads of state from as far away as Slovenia will attend the Jan. 22 inauguration of Evo Morales,
where the former union leader for coca farmers will become Bolivia’s first Indian president.
In addition, more than 150 leaders of social organizations, activists and Morales supporters are expected to be in La Paz’ main plazas where Morales will address them after his inauguration ceremony in Bolivia’s Congress.
Among those invitees are Mexico’s Zapatista rebels, the Argentina’s “piqueteros” social movement, Brazil’s landless movement, Indian groups from Ecuador, Nobel Prize winners in literature Gabriel García Márquez and José Saramago and Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano.
Presidents confirmed to attend the inauguration include: Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Alejandro Toledo of Peru, Néstor Kirchner of Argentina, Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva of Brazil, Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, Alfredo Palacio of Ecuador, Nicanor Duarte of Paraguay, Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay, Martín Torrijos of Panama and Janez Drnovek of Slovenia.
Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, José Antonio Ocampo, the United Nations’ undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs, and José Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, will also be at the ceremony. Chilean President Ricardo Lagos has not confirmed his attendance, nor has President Fidel Castro, who is traveling less because of his age.
The United States is sending Tom Shannon, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.
Mexico’s President Vicente Fox, who sparred with Morales this week over Bolivia’s possible plans to export gas to Mexico, is sending his Bolivian ambassador. More than 8,000 police will fill the streets of La Paz to provide security alongside members of Mo-rales’ Movement Toward Socialism party. An elite police team will provide security to the presidential delegations and other invitees.
The day before his official investiture, Morales will attend a traditional Indian ceremony in the town of Tihuanacu, 40 miles (65 kilometers) outside of La Paz. He will walk barefoot to an ancient temple built by the Tihuanacu civilization that flourished in 5000 B.C. and give thanks to the Pachamama, or mother earth.
“It will be a ceremony that will not only recognize the political power Morales will have, but also his religious role that will require him to work for the greater good,” anthropologist Carlos Ostermann said.