- Created: Tuesday, 16 February 2010 19:04
- Written by Sam Vincent
FRFI 213 February / March 2010
On 6 December 2009 the Movement towards Socialism (MAS) won a resounding victory in the Bolivian general election. Evo Morales took 64% of the presidential vote, with his closest rival, Manfred Reyes Villa, receiving just 26.4%. MAS won 88 out of 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and 26 out of 36 seats in the Senate. In winning more than two-thirds of the Senate seats, MAS now has the power to complete agrarian reform, nationalisation and investment in health, education and infrastructure which have until now been blocked by representatives of the ruling class.
In spite of the opposition, during MAS’s first term the country’s gas and oil were taken under full state control. Contracts with multinationals were renegotiated and state revenues from hydrocarbons rose from 5.6% of GDP in 2004 to 25.7% in late 2008. This paid for increased social spending on health and education as well as regular payments for the poorest pensioners, families and pregnant women. Careful economic planning has avoided the worst effects of the global recession; since Morales came to power in January 2006,
Since the December election, the government has proceeded with its plans for agrarian reform, in one instance seizing two ranches totalling 60 square miles. Under the new Bolivian constitution, approved by referendum in January 2009, the state can expropriate and redistribute land obtained by fraud, or which serves no economic or social purpose, or where there is evidence of forced labour. The government is now fighting in the courts to take over 143 square miles of land from five ranches in the Alto Parapeti region, where forms of serfdom still exist. MAS has already pledged to distribute 77,000 square miles of unused or disputed land to landless campesinos by 2013. Three quarters of this target has already been met.
In January 2006,
At the international level President Morales is an important representative of anti-imperialism. He condemned