Evo Morales Has 13-Point Lead in Presidential Race: CELAG Poll

La Paz, October 7 (RHC)-- Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has a 13.4 percent lead over his nearest rival, says a new poll published on Sunday by the CELAG think tank.

The poll gives Evo Morales 38.8 percent, just 1.2 percent short of a first-round victory in the upcoming October 20th elections.  The survey also indicated majority support for the government’s nationalization of strategic industries and social programs for the poorest.

The poll gave second-place candidate Carlos Mesa 25.4 percent, and third place Oscar Ortiz 11.3 percent. This indicates that Morales is on course for a first-round victory, as under Bolivian law, only 40 percent is required if the candidate is at least 10 points ahead of their nearest rival.

Both Carlos Mesa and Oscar Ortiz are backed by right-wing forces in the country and have long criticized the country’s economic model under Morales’ period in office.

Mesa is a former President and Vicepresident who served during the neoliberal period pre-Morales era and presided over the privatization of natural resources, and the repression of protests against it.

Meanwhile, Ortiz, is backed by the right-wing parties dominant in the city of Santa Cruz, the same organizations that led the U.S.-backed ‘media luna’ coup in 2008 and 2009.

Both candidates will struggle against Morales who has maintained high general approval ratings during his 13 years in power. The poll indicates that 67 percent of voters think Morales has managed the country well since 2006, and 31.4 percent think he has done so badly.

Beyond the electoral candidates, the survey asked voters’ opinions on two key issues of the campaign, the question of nationalization of strategic industries, and the question of social programs for low-income families.

Since coming to power, Morales has nationalized the country's large natural gas reserves, along with other natural resources and strategic companies. There has also been a number of social programs launched and aimed at helping the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

Both policies have been heavily criticized by the right-wing opposition who label the measures as ‘populism’. However, both receive widespread approval.

On nationalization, 51 percent say that public ownership is positive for the economy, with 33.8 percent saying that it harms growth.  On social programs, 61.7 percent say they are essential for providing dignity to those of low incomes, meanwhile 31.7 percent say they encourage laziness.

The issue of surveys and polls have become a contentious issue in Bolivia.

One outlier poll, published by a religious NGO and the UMSA University, gave Morales a lead of just 7 percent.  However, that poll was ruled inadmissible by the country’s electoral authorities due to issues relating to its funding.  It was later revealed that the U.S. government had funded that particular poll.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Evo Morales says the root of the problem is the capitalist system

United Nations, September 25 (RHC)-- The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, said Tuesday that the multiple problems that afflict the planet have their roots in the capitalist system, which favors the unequal distribution of wealth and the senseless accumulation of goods and money in the hands of a few people.

"Let's say it very clearly: the root of the problem is in capitalism," said the Bolivian president in his speech at the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations, which began work on Tuesday.  Morales also warned that "Bolivia will not give up its right to sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean."

He explained that "the underlying problem is in the model of production and consumerism, in the ownership of natural resources and in the unequal distribution of wealth."  The president made reference to the problems that afflict the planet, such as "inequality, hunger, poverty, the migration crisis, unemployment", among others.

According to Evo Morales, "it is intended to commercialize everything to accumulate more capital" and the world is being controlled by a global oligarchy, only a handful of billionaires.  He described as "unfair, immoral and inadmissible" that 26 people in the world have the same wealth as 3.8 billion people.

In his speech, Evo Morales made reference to the maritime dispute that Bolivia has had with Chile for 136 years and that was taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  He recalled that in his last ruling, in October 2018, that instance determined that: "Bolivia had a coastline of more than 400 kilometers along the Pacific Ocean."

Meanwhile, in the September 2015 judgment, it established that "the issues in dispute are not matters resolved by an arrangement of the parties, by an arbitration award, by a judgment of an international tribunal or governed by agreements or treaties in force."

Edited by Ed Newman
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Raul Castro, Diaz-Canel welcome Bolivian president

The first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, Raúl Castro, and President Miguel Díaz-Canel reportedly welcomed in Havana Bolivian President Evo Morales who made a stopover in route to New York.

According to the Twitter account of the Cuban Presidency, Morales made a stop over on Sunday in Havana before continuing to that American city, where he will attend the high-level segment of the 74th session of the General Assembly of the Organization of the United Nations (UN).

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez had traveled earlier to New York heading the Cuban delegation that will attend the important meeting, in which his country will ratify its commitment to the defense of peace and multilateralism.

Rodriguez's participation at the UN General Assembly comes at times of growing Washington's hostility towards Cuba and its diplomacy, following the expulsion of two representatives of the Cuban mission to the UN.

Around 140 heads of State and Government will participate from September 24 to 30 in the high-level week of the UN General Assembly at its 74th session.

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Bolivia and Paraguay agree to join forces to stop wildfires

La Paz, September 17 (RHC)-- A total of 5,500 men, 193 vehicles, 40 tanker trucks, 25 ambulances and 19 planes among other devices, including the sum of $15 million donated by the Bolivian government and other $2.2 million in international help, were to be mobilized in order to fight wildfires at the border between Paraguay and Bolivia, the governments in both states have announced. 

Last week, the Paraguayan congress declared an environmental emergency in Chovoreca, in the Department of High Paraguay, north of the country.  According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, since middle August 100,000 hectares of vegetation have been burned.

Meanwhile, fires have burned through 1.8 million of hectares throughout Bolivia, especially in Chiquitania, an area of transition between el Chaco and Amazonia, known for agriculture and agrarian purposes.

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez said he has reached out to his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales to offer cooperation on the matter.  A day later, the Bolivian president announced that preventive measures in the area have stopped fires from spreading out at the triple-border with Brazil.

Over the past month, changes in wind direction have threatened Paraguay's forests with more fires, especially if the wind heads south.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Bolivia Orders World's Largest Air Tanker to Combat Amazon Fires

“We are no longer forced to submit to ‘international aid’...we can respond ourselves immediately’

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales announced on Wednesday that Bolivia had purchased a Boeing 747 ‘Supertanker’ to help extinguish huge forest fires in the Amazon have that spilled over from Brazil. By Wednesday evening, the government confirmed that the tanker is arriving in the country and will be operational on Friday.

RELATED: Bolivia's Evo Morales Visits Fire-Affected Eastern Region

The ‘Supertanker’ can carry more water than any other aircraft in the world, capable of flying with 115, 000 litres, equivalent to a 100 regular air tankers. Prior to the tankers arrival, the military will fly planes over the region to assess where exactly the tanker should focus. 

There will also be three new helicopters, working with the three already in operation, working to extinguish the fires. Other measures include the creation of an ‘emergency cabinet’ and the dispatch of an extra 500 troops on Thursday morning, as reinforcement for the firefighters on the ground. There will also be around 10 light aircraft, putting out fires by fumigation.

On the first day of the fires spreading to Bolivia, President Evo Morales visited the areas and brought two helicopters to evacuate affected communities, along with large shipments of emergency food aid. 

The new measures by the government come amid calls by right-wing opposition candidate Carlos Mesa to allow foreign aid to help put out the fires. 

Nevertheless, Bolivia’s government has long rejected calls for outside intervention for natural disasters, arguing that Bolivia’s economy has developed enough to provide sufficient resources to cope, and must deal with issues internally to protect sovereignty. Speaking earlier in the year when flash floods hit the Department of Beni, Vicepresident Alvaro Garcia Linera said “Bolivia has the resources...the era of begging [to outsiders] has passed, leave that to Carlos Mesa”.

Some have pointed to how international ‘emergency aid’ from the US often leads to militarization and occupation, such as that which took place in Haiti, following devastating earthquakes. There, relief operations were led by the US military’s Southern Command, and scholars have illustrated the subsequent role of USAID in working with US corporations in creating patterns of dependency in the country. One academic has described it saying. "USAID used the occurrence of the January 2010 earthquake tragedy to accelerate in Haiti the implementation of a neoliberal agenda congenial to the business promotion of multinational investors, particularly US multinational corporations."

Hoping to avoid such a scenario, President Morales reiterated on Wednesday that “We are no longer forced to submit to ‘international aid’...we can respond ourselves immediately’

The recent fires in the Amazon started in Brazil, though exact causes are unclear, organizations in the Amazon blame loggers and landed elites allied to President Bolsonaro, for deliberately starts fires to clear land for cattle ranching. The European Union's satellite program, Copernicus, showed how the fire then spilled over into Bolivia and Peru. The fire has devastated almost half a million hectares of Bolivia’s Amazon rainforest, largely affecting the historic Chiquitania area.

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Bolivia’s Right-Wing Opposition Split Amid Racism Accusations

“Citizens Community is a lie, they haven’t let even one Indigenous women be a candidate, I was used and was part of propagating a lie"

Bolivia’s right-wing opposition faced a new round of internal splits, leaving them weakened ahead of upcoming presidential elections, in which leftist President Evo Morales is well ahead in the polls. Leading opposition candidate Carlos Mesa had a number of key allies resign from his party on Monday, accusing him of racial discrimination, and undemocratic conduct.

RELATED: Bolivia: Main Opposition Candidate Accused of Taking US Funds

Carlos Mesa’s right-wing ‘Citizens Community’ party is facing allegations of racism after a high profile resignation from Cristina Mamani, an Indigenous woman used by Mesa in a number of campaign ads. Mamani resigned her membership in Citizens Community after the party announced its list of candidates for the legislature, which include not a single Indigenous woman, despite Mamani being used in campaign ads to deflect accusations that Mesa is part of the white elite. 

Mamani said on Monday, “Citizens Community is a lie, they haven’t let even one Indigenous woman be a candidate, I was used and was part of propagating a lie...they call themselves Citizens Community, do they know what that means? Because I haven't seen any community for the Indigenous in the party”

Also on Monday, a number of social organizations in the city of Cochabamba resigned their affiliation from Carlos Mesa’s’ party, due to what they say was the undemocratic form in which local candidates were selected. In a statement reported by Abya Yala TV, a spokesperson for the social organizations in Cochabamba said, “We see it as necessary to distance ourselves from Citizens Community, we will not be part of the failure that they’re going to turn out to be” 

The splits within Citizens Community follows the failure of the right-wing opposition to present a united ticket to challenge Evo Morales. Despite calls for unity, the opposition has presented more than 5 different parties, splitting the right-wing vote. 

In the face of these splits, Evo Morales has surged in the polls, as Mesa and others have fallen. In December 2018, Carlos Mesa was leading opinion polls, at 34%, whilst Evo Morales lagged behind at 29%. However, a poll published a week ago in opposition media showed Morales at 39%, and Mesa at just 22%. 

Bolivians head to polls on October 20th. If Morales maintains his current lead then he is likely to win a first-round victory, under Bolivian law a first-round victory requires 50% of the vote, or 40% if the winner is 10 points ahead of the runner up. 

Bolivia is currently the fastest growing economy in the region, which analysts say is due to Evo Morales’ strategy of nationalization of natural resources and strategic industries, Morales will be hoping that a buoyant economy will be enough to deliver reelection in October.

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Cuba Congratulates Bolivia on 194th Anniversary of Independence

Cuba´s government congratulated on Tuesday the Bolivian people on the 194th anniversary of Independence, and seized the opportunity to express admiration for the success of the process of change led by Bolivia´s President Evo Morales.

'A greeting to the government and people of Bolivia on the 194th anniversary of their Independence. We admire their defense of the democratic-cultural revolution led by our brother the President and his fight for sustainable development and social justice,' tweeted Cuban FM Bruno Rodriguez.

President Evo Morales today called for the people to join in and defend freedom, dignity and sovereignty reached in this country as part of the process started in 2006, benefitting all nationals.

Independence Day is celebrated on August 6, to commemorate the Declaration of the act that ended Spanish domination in 1825, and proclaimed the Republic of Bolivia, granting the country its autonomy.

The 13 years of the Morales government have stood out for their achievements, such as improving Bolivians´ quality of life, political and social stability, and economic successes acknowledged by international organizations.

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Bolivia Defends National Dignity, Economic Sovereignty

The Government of Bolivia has defended national dignity and sovereignty in all aspects of life, including economic life, with a view to becoming a regional and world power.

In this sense, the Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramon Quintana, told the press about the work of President Evo Morales and his ability to transform Bolivia into an economic power.

Official data reveals that the economy of this South American nation has grown on average 4.9 percent from 2006 to 2017, a period in which more than three million people were lifted out of poverty.

In 2018, this country had the highest growth in the region for the fifth consecutive year, with its economy expanding by 4.2 percent and inflation by 1.5 percent.

Quintana said opposition political organizations lack the capacity to turn Bolivia into an economic power, as President Evo Morales points out.

Bolivia's option with a view to the general elections in October is to become an economic power or move backwards like a crab, the Minister said.

In his opinion, with Evo Morales as president until 2025, the Plurinational State is set to become the biggest power in Latin America.

Explaining that the concept of power is related to the size of the country, the population and the extent of its economy, he added that a new Morales term will improve access to health, drinking water, gas and energy coverage, among other benefits.

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