LA PAZ – Evo Morales was sworn in on Friday for his second term as president of Bolivia and proclaimed the inauguration of a new “plurinational” state in the Andean nation.
The coming of the plurinational state was symbolized by the new presidential sash that Morales received from his vice president, which includes a “whipala” or Indian emblem, after he returned the one he received at his first inauguration in 2006.
In addition, the ceremony took place under the gaze of indigenous leaders who fought against Spanish colonial domination like Tupac Katari and Bartolina Sisa, whose portraits were just installed in Congress.
Morales, a former llama herder and coca grower, is the first indigenous president of Bolivia, where roughly 60 percent of the population are Indians.
“Now we have consolidated democracy so that it is not only representative but also participative,” Morales said at the beginning of his speech in the presence of presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay.
Also attending the inauguration was Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and high-ranking representatives of the governments of Cuba, Colombia, Peru and others.
Morales devoted most of his nearly two-hour speech to an extensive report on his first term, loaded with figures, dates and percentages related to the “historical records” achieved by his government in such areas as education, health and employment.
So protracted was his speech that Morales, with a tone of apology, twice asked lawmakers and guests for patience.
About the challenges that lie ahead, Morales mentioned the need to speed up the industrialization of the country’s natural resources like natural gas, lithium and one of the world’s largest deposits of iron ore.
Another of the tasks he bestowed on his incoming administration was the creation of a truly national road and rail network, as well as guaranteeing the entire population access to basic services like water, a sewage system and electricity.
Thousands of Morales’ followers gathered in the Plaza Murillo to follow the inauguration ceremony and the parades organized in his honor.
Morales won Bolivia’s December 2005 presidential election by garnering nearly 54 percent of the vote in a field of 11 candidates. Fulfilling a campaign promise, he pushed for the adoption of a new constitution aimed at “refounding” the country in the interests of the indigenous majority.
The new charter, approved in a national referendum, required the president, vice president and lawmakers to face fresh elections and Morales easily won another term five-year term. EFE