The Rise and Fall of Bolivia's Evo Morales

How South America's First Indigenous President Lost His Way

Courtesy Reuters

Evo Morales's rise from the humblest of origins to the Bolivian presidency has been remarkable. Since taking office five years ago, this son of subsistence farmers has won himself fame, bolstered his support, and filled ordinary Bolivians with pride through his unabashed defense of indigenous rights, his refusal to compromise at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, and, more broadly, his willingness to thumb his nose at states far larger and more powerful than his own. When the country adopted a new constitution (largely of Morales's making) that enhanced rights for the environment and native peoples in 2009, the leader in La Paz officially turned his charging rhetoric into concrete results. In the space of just a few years, Morales convinced Bolivians, and not just the traditional elites, that their government can serve their interests and make a difference on the world stage.

All this makes the developments of

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