Bolivia - A glance to the most important achievements of the economic social communitarian productive model


Since 2006, under the direction of the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, we, the Government and the people, have worked designing a new State and a new economic model based on an analysis of the structural crisis of capitalism and a commitment to change our reality up to then characterized by economic and social exclusion to most Bolivians since the colonization period. Exclusion got worse during the twenty years of neoliberalism before 2006. The Economic Social Communitarian Productive Model was built based on sovereignty of our economic policy.On these grounds, a historic decision about nationalizing the Bolivian hydrocarbons was taken, in accordance with the people’s mandate, adopted after overcoming neoliberal policies. 

By means of that important decision, the State began recovering the control over strategic sectors of the economy, which allowed us, Bolivians, to take control of the economic surplus previously deprived from us; and apply a policy of income redistribution through Conditional Cash Transfers programmes (Juancito Pinto, Dignity Rent, Juana Azurduy,) public investment, inversely proportional wage increases crossed subsidies, among other measures.

Through the Economic Social Communitarian Productive Model, we engaged in strengthening the role of the State that now directs the economy for the purpose of transferring the economic suplus -from strategic sectors-to income-employment generating sectors in order to put together existing structures of economic organization in Bolivia (State, community, social, cooperative and private) under the principles of complementarity, reciprocity, solidarity, redistribution, equality, legal certainty, sustainability, equilibrium, justice and transparency.

In the same vein, we recovered sovereignty on fiscal, monetary, financial and exchange rate policy in order to make them available for the economic and social development of the Bolivian people. Since 2006, for each year we self-design our Fiscal-Financial Programming. Since then, the fiscal policy is focused to achieve growth with income redistribution, output incresing, industrialization, food sovereignty and job creation. We drove de-dollarization of the economy which was before highly dollarized; and we also transformed the financial system in order to go along with the Government’s social objectives. The Government also enhanced and diversified the productive matrix.

It is also important to highlight that because of the implementation of social and income redistribution policies, supported by higher levels of public investment; we managed to stimulate domestic demand now is the main growth engine, which is oriented towards developing productively and industrially our natural resources and eradicating the multiple dimensions of inequity and poverty.

In this document, we describe the main achievements reached since 2006, by means of the implementation of the Economic Social Communitarian Productive Model, which are outcomes from a collective effort to improve the quality of living and reach what we call El Vivir Bien (To Live Well) forBolivian people.

Luis Alberto Arce Catacora
Minister of Economy and Public Finance

Evo Morales: “Here the gringos don’t give the orders, here the indigenous give the orders”

Translation of Evo Morales inauguration speech by Stan Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee

Brothers and sisters, I am still very surprised how in a short time, we changed the social and economic situation of the country, but we   need to finish it, we need to deepen it, we still need to consolidate some policies. What have we done in these years? Quickly to review our history. How are we in relation to GDP growth? First I want to clarify according to the last census, we have 10 million inhabitants.

Real GNP growth before averaged – when I say before, I'm talking about 1997 to 2005 and when I say after I'm talking about 2005 to 2014 – before, average growth was 3.2%, now it is 5.1% growth.

According to information from international organizations, this year Bolivia is one of the Latin American and Caribbean countries with higher economic growth, 5.1%.

The nominal GDP in 2005 was $9.521 billion, in 2014 it was $34 billion, from $9 billion to $34 billion.

The per capita GDP in 2005 was a thousand dollars; in 2014, it was $ 3,000.  In a short time how we have grown in per capita GDP!

In 2005, in relation to fiscal surplus and deficit, Bolivia ranked last in Latin America and the Caribbean with a fiscal deficit of -5.2%. In 2014 we ranked as the second country, with a growth of 1.2%.

Of functioning businesses and enterprise creation, in 2005 we had 19,974 enterprises, in 2014, 144, 000 companies, an increase of 628%.

In 2005 Bolivia collected 1 billion Bolivianos in taxes, in 2014, we collected 64 billion Bolivianos in revenue [7 Bolivianos, in 2014, equals $1].

I remain convinced, brothers and sisters, that the Bolivian people trust their government and pay their taxes, that is the cause of this growth in tax revenue. I request again: it is important to pay our taxes so we can continue improving the national economy.

State investment: from 1997 to 2005 a growth of 15%, and in our administration, a growth of 795%. Brothers and sisters, a growth from 15% to 795%.

When we came into office,  the 2005 state investment was $629 million dollars, and of this $629 million,  70% were loans and [international] cooperation, only 30% were  from Bolivians, now we still have credits and cooperation, but just comes to 20 %, 80% investment is with our money.

State investment in 2014 was $5.628 billion. International reserves before, from 1997 to 2005, grew 61% and in our administration international reserves grew 782%.

Before we were left with $1.714 billion, now we have more than $15 billion in reserves.  I remember once our brother David Choquehuanca told us at a meeting in 180 years had just saved $1.7 billion, at the time he said that our reserves were about $10 billion. He said in our administration we have saved, in six years, to make our companeros understand, $10 billion. Brother Vice-President, brother and sister ministers, we have withdrawn a billion, as a filter, so that more would be like $16 billion, more than $16 billion in international reserves.

Some data. Net international reserves at December 31, 2014 reached $15.132 billion representing 45% of GDP.

Public deposits in the financial system and the Central Bank of Bolivia. Sisters and brothers, in 2005, of the 10 million inhabitants, only 1,000,900  had  deposits; now 7,000,800 Bolivians have bank deposits.

Before, how much were the deposits?  3.826 billion Bolivianos in deposits, now banks have 19.983 billion Bolivianos.

On the issue of arrears, debt, how were we left? The 2005 had a debt of 10.1%; now we have a debt 1.5%.

We want to say tell you, according to international data, ours is one of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean with the smallest debt: 1.5%, since we raised morale to keep going with credits, especially with credits for production from the Banco de Desarrollo Productivo.

Transfer of resources to departmental and local governments, municipalities and universities. In 2005 it was 6.669 billion Bolivianos, while last year it was 29.221 billion Bolivianos.

One interesting thing we want to make known, sisters and brothers, the consolidated expenditure budget for wages and salaries, and gross capital formation; that is, before what was spent on salaries and what was spent on investment.

In 2005, spending on salaries was 7.379 billion Bolivianos, and how much investment? 5.078 billion Bolivianos: more money was spent on salaries and less on investment.

And now there have appeared new items, new companies. We now spend 27 billion Bolivianos on salaries, but we invest 33.715 billion Bolivianos.

Investment in the hydrocarbons sector. The 2005 investment was just $246 million dollars; but that $246 million dollars was from companies that were the owners of natural resources.

Last year, how much has been invested in hydrocarbons? $2.050 billion.

I want to tell you, comrades of the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), when we together asked the imposed governments to nationalize the hydrocarbons, what was the response? "If we nationalize there will be no investment." And here what are we showing? With privatization, investment in 2005 was $246 million: nationalized, the investment is $2.050 billion, and mostly from the economic resources of the Bolivian people.

Oil revenues. In 2005 how much was it? It was just $300 million in 2005; however that year, with our blockades, marches, with strikes, we forced the neoliberal government to modify the Hydrocarbons tax, and then was born the IDH [Direct Tax on Hydrocarbons], and we began the IDH,  and because of that  oil revenue rose to $600 million.

Last year how much has been oil revenue? $5.530 billion, sisters and brothers.

If we realize, sisters and brothers, in the 20 years, with the so-called capitalization, privatization, how much money did we lose? There are the data.

A brief summary regarding what are the results of this administration.
Extreme poverty. In 2005 we were left with 37.2% in extreme poverty; by 2014 we reduced this to 18.8%.

Reducing income inequality of the population. Sisters and brothers, in 2005, the richest 10% had 128 times more income than the poorest 10%.

By 2013, this difference was reduced to 42 times, from 128 to 42 times, this is the communal socialism that seeks equality among Bolivians.

In terms of basic services, in 2001, just 64.4% had electric lighting in Bolivia. By 2012  we have increased this to 82.3%,  last year 83.5% of Bolivians now have light, and here salute you, I salute all departmental governments, the national government does not lack [electrical] power, nor do departmental governments of MAS and the opposition, they are electrified, in Santa Cruz, everywhere.

A round of applause for our departmental governors for that joint work to address basic services, so important to the Bolivian people.

Potable water or clean water. In 2001, 71.8%; in 2012, 79.9%; now 85.2% have safe water in Bolivia, thanks to MiAgua I, II, III program, and here we have complied with the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.

In subject of gas. In 2001, only 58% had gas; by 2012 71.7% and now we have 74.9% who have either gas cylinders or gas to the home.

I want to say on the subject of sewage plumbing system we are in bad shape. In 2001, only 30% of Bolivians had sewage; in 2012, 40%; by 2014 we had 44.7%. I have doubts that this year we can meet the Millennium Development Goals. This should be the task of governors, mayors and the national government to achieve, to meet the Millennium Development Goals. We must recognize that here we have not advanced enough.

New housing built and delivered from 2001 to 2014. From 2001- 2005, 8,000 households, 1600 households per year. In our administration, 68,000 homes, 7,550 homes per year.

Households that benefited from bonds and annuities: In 2005, there were only 16.5% of households that benefited; by 2013, 64.3% of families who benefited from bonds and annuities.

This is a very important fact, sisters and brothers, so you know, policies for the elderly, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, Bolivia has the largest pension coverage at national level, 97% of the over 65 year old population.

Many union leaders present here will remember, we made a march from  Caracollo to ensure a dignified  pension; that is, not only those working in public and private functions can retire, but private bus and van drivers who have no retirement plans can,  as can those of the indigenous peasant movement who do not have retirement income.  And sisters who are street venders stores, who sell from early morning until night if they want something, they now have a small income.

This Renta Dignidad helped us a lot, so now Bolivia is leading in serving our grandmothers and grandfathers who are 60 -65 years old.

Regularization and the titling of native communal lands, before, indigenous peoples were only entitled to 98 titles [deeds]; in our administration, 2006-2014, 383 titles.

Before, sisters and brothers, people had deeds to only 6 million hectares; Now it is 18 million hectares.

I want to say, the regulated and titled land from 1996 to 2005 was 9 million hectares; we have titled 62 million hectares, for a total of 72 million hectares titled.

Before, titles delivered - 26,000 titles; in our administration, 580,000 titles delivered.

Beneficiaries, before 175, 000, in our administration 1,400,000 people received titles.

Most interestingly, earlier titled hectare cost $ 9. When we started titled hectares, it cost $1, now it has risen, now the titled hectares cost $2. Before the titled hectare was more expensive hectare, $ 9; we have titled lands for $2, for the good of the indigenous peasant movement, as entrepreneur.

Before, sisters and brothers, only 10% of women had access to land. Now in our administration, 46% of women have access.

That was not there before, these are the data.

Urban unemployment rate. They left us in 2005 with a 8.1% unemployment rate; now we have 3.2% unemployment rate, a decrease of 4.8%.

Brother workers, you cannot complain, before the national minimum wage, how much was it? $440 Bolivianos, there are facts for you to see.

In 2003, 2004, 2005, the minimum wage was never raised. From 1997-2005 the national minimum wage increased 83%, and our administration has increased the national minimum wage 227%, not taking into account this year.

In national minimum wage we are no longer the last country in South America, within Latin America and the Caribbean, before we were the last country.

The subject of education, we thank the Cuban brothers, who made a lot of investment. After Cuba, with other countries, we are second in investment in education, as reported by UNESCO.
Net enrollment rate in education. In primary education we are at 99.82%, almost  100%, I think in this administration we'll get to meet 100% at the primary level.

Brother Álvaro García Linera, I am concerned about the secondary level, we are at 72.15% enrollment. Sisters and brothers, in this administration we have to reach 100% attendance in education at the secondary level.

Dropout rate in primary education. When we came to power, dropout was over 6%, we still have a dropout of 1.4%, and we have reduced it so much thanks to Bono Juancito Pinto [school voucher for children in elementary school].

On the energy issue, the 2005 demand was just 760 megawatts; 2014, 1,298 megawatts, we have reserves and we have a great plan, sisters and brothers, we will fulfill this plan so that Bolivia can also share power with neighboring countries if necessary. We are making large investments in hydroelectric power, in thermal, solar energy, we still need to extract geothermal.

Sisters and brothers, all these policies and social programs, economic policies, permit Bolivia to not only be known and recognized, but even respected in the international community. This is not a present of Evo Morales, nor of Álvaro, but I want to say again with our trade union experience, which is the struggle of our social movements in Bolivia, in a short time, we left this [pre-2005] colonial state, a pauper and beggar, and now we have a Plurinational State, respected brothers and sisters, only that can bring us dignity and unity.

But I also want to say as a union leader I participated in the so-called summits, when governments, presidents met, what our former leaders said: "I endorse the proposal of that country", "I endorse the USA proposal," they usually said that. Now we have our own policy and our own identity in the international community.

So we have made some important accomplishments, as our South American brother presidents know with their support, for example in the UN we had approved water as a fundamental human right in the world, not only in Latin America.

You will remember the struggle to prevent water privatization in 2000, in Cochabamba with the support of all the Bolivian people, workers, farmers, irrigators, businessmen, middle and upper class. We united and stopped the privatization and we said water is a right human, now we have put it in the constitution, water is a human right. And not just put it in the constitution, but we have also brought a proposal to the UN and they approved it almost by consensus that water is a fundamental right.

At the United Nations we also had approved living in harmony with Mother Earth, the Pachamama, a new policy, this debate will continue in the UN, most importantly brothers and sisters, we succeeded in decriminalizing our sacred coca leaf, we also made our culture respected. Happily we won this battle in the UN, now in Bolivia the traditional use of coca leaf is now respected.

I want to say when I had a serious problem with the international community, I read a report from Harvard University, I think Victor Gutierrez was on Human Rights to support us, I am sorry he has left us, that fellow who was of Human Rights abandoned us, and what did the Harvard report say – that Andean peoples, not only chew but eat coca leaf.

Sometimes because of having a lot of work, I chew coca leaf, and it is good for human health, in its natural state. Our male and female ministers know, some are healing themselves from diabetes with coca leaf.  I recommend consuming the coca leaf in its natural state as a natural food and medicinal resource, happily thanks to the battle we fought in the international community.

Brothers and sisters, I also want to tell you, we have achieved increased international cooperation. Remember in 2005 when I was a candidate for President, in 2002 what were they telling us? "If Evo is President there is not going to be cooperation, there will not be any investment." Why are we proud of our process, what were they saying about me in 2002 when I was presidential candidate for the first time? Evo is an Andean Bin Laden and coca growers, the Taliban, and don’t vote for Evo Morales. This is what the former US ambassador Manuel Rocha said, but when he made this message, the social movements and leftist parties joined this political liberation movement.

Thanks to the political work of the ministries, especially of the Foreign Ministry, now several agreements have been signed to increase cooperation - without conditions - aligned with our national program. Before, they told us, here is data, if you want credit, it is conditioned on privatizing natural resources. That has ended, therefore, it was well said what our brother Vice- President said at a meeting, an event, "now in Bolivia, the Chicago Boys don’t give the orders, but the Chuquiago Boys" [the Aymara name for the La Paz region].

Pardon the expression, now here the gringos don’t give the orders, here the indigenous give the orders, that is the pride we have sisters and brothers.

Some information. With Chile, faced with their procrastination over our demand for access to the sea, we directed our demand to the International Court of Justice, with firmness and consistency in our historic right to the peaceful pursuit of a sovereign outlet to the Pacific Ocean. Our demand is on track, since history, justice and for the right to one day return to the Pacific Ocean with sovereignty.

Sisters and brothers, I want to briefly tell you, in relation to drug trafficking, with apologies to the delegation and thank you very much to the US delegation, who sent a good delegation, special guests we have, when we had the US military base, when here the US DEA was in charge, not only of civil society but of Bolivian armed forces and the National Police, how much coca cultivation did they leave? With 34,000 hectares of coca leaf; last year we have reduced it to 22,000 hectares of coca, UN data and together with data of the European Community show. The nationalization of the fight against drug trafficking, in direct coordination with neighboring countries as well, is important, now we are now in a better position in the fight against drug trafficking, without the US military base and without the DEA, that is called dignity and sovereignty in Bolivia.

What responsibility do we have now? In short, I know we're not doing well in the Bolivian justice, we recognize that, but it is not only the responsibility of the national government, but it is also the responsibility of all Bolivian people.

And so I want to tell you brothers we decided together with our college institutions, our national justice experts - there are good lawyers - but we have to dignify the law, you know very well, in some instances the Bolivian justice, when the police and the armed forces work to stop criminals, drug dealers, the next day they are released. How to end that? What needs to be done about it? For that, we will convene a summit, to make a revolution in Bolivian justice, from this summit a committee will be formed to develop a proposal and that proposal will become a referendum and the Bolivian people will decide on the new Bolivian justice. All social sectors will be called on for this profound transformation of Bolivian justice.

By 2020 brothers and sisters, we are committed and we are convinced that we will reduce extreme poverty to 8% or 9%, we will reduce extreme poverty, we will fulfill this, because we have learned in the nine years as president and vice-president in the process of change, it’s not difficult. Besides that, in three of the nine departments in our country, what we have to fulfill by 2025 in the patriotic agenda in the departments of Tarija, Oruro and Pando, we are going to have 100% of basic services, we will move ahead and we will not wait for 2025 with these three departments.

Sisters and brothers one of the issues we have, the health issue, I am not complaining but I am not happy with what we have done so far, so we decided, and this is already underway, in intermediate cities, we will guarantee them secondary hospitals. And large sized cities like Montero, Yacuíba, Riberalta and cities that are departmental capitals, all we'll leave them with third level hospitals and some we have already begun to build.

Not only that, we have a problem with companero Carlos Villegas, all our solidarity, since we not have hospitals of fourth level, brother Villegas, the president of YPFB is getting his treatment in Chile.  We salute and thank the doctors from Chile, also last week our Governor of Cochabamba had a very serious problem heading to Brazil, Dilma thank you very much, your doctors  helped us quite a lot caring for my brother Governor of Cochabamba. I say with apologies, since Bolivians continue to travel abroad for treatment, in our administration we must build four hospitals at the fourth level, in La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Tarija.

Besides brothers and sisters, we have an obligation in direct coordination with mayors and governors to start the universal health insurance and we'll start with this administration.

For the first time since the founding of the republic, we started adding value to our natural resources, you brothers and sisters know in hydrocarbons, in lithium we are in a pilot plan, which has had good results so far. Respecting the rights of Mother Earth we will industrialize our natural, metallic and nonmetallic resources.

On the other hand, our presidents and vice presidents know, sometimes at the summits we complain about when we will be freed of US, European or Asian technology. We salute and respect Argentina and Brazil for their leadership in the industrialization of technology, but we have many problems, so we decided brothers and sisters, in the new government program, we will have a scientific citadel, we will start building our scientific citadel, to have a knowledge economy, while we to continue providing scholarships to the best students to the best universities so they can learn, and in this way we will be liberated in the technology field.

The issue of infrastructure is not much of a problem, my concern is only the movement on a paved road from east to west. I am very sorry that a group of companeros hurt us, under the pretext of TIPNIS, when brothers from Brazil, brother Lula assured us a credit to build roads from Rurrenabaque to Riberalta. Facing a social problem, we lost this credit. Four, five years we have lost, we now have guaranteed investment to move from east to west on paved roads from Rurrenabaque to Riberalta. We will deliver in this administration a paved road connecting the west with the east of Bolivia.

Another problem we have is the area of ​​Sillar, it is not just a departmental issue or of Cochabamba, but throughout Bolivia. The other roads are small, it is not important as these two routes, Rurrenabaque - Riberalta or area Sillar, you know, brothers and sisters, if they are not already finished, the nine departments have funding, some are already finished - three departments have international airports and others we have incorporated. In this administration we will leave the nine departments, with one, some even two, international airports.

Brothers and sisters, I want to say to finish this intervention, all this we accomplished only with the unity of the Bolivian people, I thank you for nine years in administration, and starting another five years as president. On behalf of our brother Vice-President and our ministers, we thank former ministers and thanks to the former assembly members - before ex-Congress people, now ex-Assembly Members - all contributed, but above all contributed our social movements.

Before our history was social conflict, there was no political stability. Without political stability there is economic stability, if there is no economic stability, there is no development. This was a country that never even got up, in my union experience, now my presidential experience, sometimes from those above and those outside the country, there were policies of plunder. When the people wanted to free themselves democratically, there was a coup d’etat, coup after coup. But when a people decides to free themselves, first we unite and when they cannot divide us, now some foreign powers use drug trafficking, terrorism, communism, human rights, to intervene once again, to dominate us and rob us.

Dominate us politically to rob us economically, when we have united and we freed ourselves first democratically, politically, we have freed ourselves economically, that is our experience, so these results.

Here are all the data for review and therefore it shows how important was the unity and the call to remain united. We all the have right to have ideological, programmatic differences. We salute our Assembly members, senators, deputies. I call you to work in a united manner, I want your proposals.

Brother opponents, proposals, for the good of the Bolivian people are welcome, welcome to a culture of dialogue. We discussed this with brother Choquehuanca, we must discuss, we must listen, it takes work, sometimes takes time, we are here. Let proposals come to further reduce poverty, to further improve the economy and we welcome you to work for the good of Bolivia, because we are brothers and sisters of one homeland.

I want to say, I never felt abandoned by our social movements, we have had some differences, it is a right, we salute the leaders who made demands on us. We discussed democratically based on the facts, although some were exaggerated. We have understood each other and eventually agreed. I want to tell you, brothers and sisters, if we made these results so far it is thanks to the support of all social movements, how important it was listening to all the social movements, the Bolivian people organized in social movements.

Happily, now has ended these imposed governments and the pseudo state, now we have a legitimate, actual democracy. This is expressed here, I want the international community to know, for the first time, women in the Assembly represent 50.9% of the members, and most are Bartolinas, [federation of indigenous women] the second country in the world with greatest representation of women.

My request, with much respect to companeras: companeras, don’t be even half capricious, if you wouldn’t resent it, women who are so honest and hardworking, would be in charge in Bolivia. The only thing that hurts is when they fight among themselves and I do not want fighting, sisters and brothers, but to continue moving ahead in the representation of women.

I want to say in conclusion that I'm very happy, you know where I come from, but how important to governing has been listening to the people. How important it has been that in Bolivia businessmen or bankers do not govern, here the people govern through their democratically elected officials. That's the difference, here President, Vice President are not behind in how to improve our economy. We know our families, I greet my sister, relatives of Álvaro, you know, my sister still sells little things in her store, they know how to live, here is not a question of doing business with family; that it is over, brothers and sisters.

So companeros and companeras, that's the struggle, the commitment, based on our values, Ama Sua, Ama Llulla, Ama Quella [Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy] that's the standard left by our ancestors and based on that standard we will continue to serve the Bolivian people these five more years.

I say to you Assembly members, I say to the Bolivian people, thank you very much for having confidence in us for five more years, we know how to work, we know how to mobilize. Now you know that politics is not a business, it not for personal profit, now it is service, work and more commitment to the Bolivian people. That we have learned and that is why those accomplishments are for the good of all the people.

Evo Morales in Tiwanaku: “The world can no longer tolerate development in the name of modernity”

Introduction and translation by Stan Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee

Apartheid was not unique to South Africa – or Israel. The Original Peoples of the Americas have suffered from a similar long history of apartheid. In Bolivia, institutionalized racism and discrimination against the Original Peoples flourished. President Evo Morales said his mother told him that, like other indigenous people from the countryside, she was not even allowed to enter a city. The end to this apartheid came with Evo Morales being elected president in 2005, elected with 54% of the vote, followed by 64% in 2009 and 61% in 2014.

Evo Morales is said to be the only Original Peoples president elected in Latin America since the times of Mexico’s Zapotec president Benito Juarez (1858-1871), who was president while, in the recently stolen California, the American white man was still hunting the Original Peoples down and killing them, given $50 a scalp by the California government.

Hermano companero Presidente Evo Morales, as he is referred to in Bolivia, was a campesino union leader heading a national movement, instituting The Process of Change” upon election. (Evo is still president of the union of cocalero farmers). As many Bolivian Original Peoples activists explain “for 500 years we were ruled by los colonizadores [the colonizers] and now we, los Pueblos Originales [the Original Peoples] are in charge and we are not going back.

The re-election of Evo Morales was deliberately scheduled to take place on October 12, in repudiation of Columbus Day. A few days before, in El Alto, near and just above the capital of La Paz, in an entirely indigenous city, over one million people, 1 out of 10 Bolivians, turned out to celebrate at their brother President Evo’s closing campaign rally.

A striking example of the restored pride of Bolivia’s Original Peoples was Evo’s first ceremony of his two-day presidential inauguration, at the pre-Incan city of Tiwanaku. Here on January 21 indigenous spiritual leaders performed the ancient rites and ceremonies for preparation and purification the indigenous leader. Only after this, on the 22nd, did the second ceremony swear in Evo as a head of state, in the “Peoples House” as presidential palace has been renamed. Outside the ruins of Tiwanaku, on a vast field, filled with thousands and thousands Original Peoples, dressed in their traditional clothes, watched rapt attention their traditional ceremonial rites performed in front of their eyes, listening closely to Evo’ speech.

This was not some TV documentary re-enactment of ancient sacred ceremonies. It was the President, the head of state of a modern nation, officially participating in the performance of the traditional rites of leadership of the peoples. Following came an all-afternoon parade by the different indigenous peoples dressed their customary garb, walking and dancing past the presidential viewing stand. Repeatedly, Evo and Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera came from the viewing stand to dance with the delegations parading by.

The impact of Evo Morales’ electoral victories on the original peoples of Bolivia and Latin America is tremendous. As Evo said, with 1532, descended the long black night of their suffering, but now the light of the sun has returned to the sky.

What is this “process of change”? Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, has had an annual growth rate of 5%, from 2005-2014. The GNP has grown from $9.5 billion to $34 billion. Evo’s government created 500,00 jobs in just his first term, and now unemployment has dropped from 8.1% to 3.2%. The minimum wage has gone up 227%. Extreme poverty has been reduced from 37% of the population to 19%. Before, in 2005, the richest 10% had 128 times more income than the poorest 10%. Now it is 42 times.

One in five more Bolivians than before now have electricity in their homes. 50% more now have indoor plumbing. Illiteracy has been eliminated, traditional languages have been restored, having equal status with Spanish. 97% of seniors now receive at least some small pension. Before, only 10% of women had access to land, now 46% do.

Between 2006 and 2010 over one third of Bolivian land was handed over to peasant communities to be run communally, and one-fifth of Bolivian land, previously illegally occupied by large landowners, has been mostly converted to protected forest lands.

How have these social gains has this been possible? One precondition was ending the looting of Bolivia’s wealth. Evo put it simply, “Now here the gringos don’t give the orders, here the indigenous give the orders.”

Before 2005, 87% of Bolivia’s oil and gas wealth went to foreign corporations. Now the reverse: the state retains 80-90%. In 2005, national oil revenue amounted to $300 million. In 2014 this revenue was $5.5 billion. In just the year 2011 the state received as much revenue from the hydrocarbon sector as it did from 1996-2005.

This shows, as Evo says in his January 22 speech, how much national wealth has been lost. Bolivia’s economic success is a direct result of the MAS government’s program for economic transformation, based on weakening Western corporate control over the economy and diversifying it away from its dependency on raw material exports.

The proceeds from these 10 years of economic prosperity have largely been redistributed to the country’s poor and indigenous majority. Morales’s state-led economic policy, emphasizing the re-nationalization of strategic sectors privatized by past neoliberal governments (hydrocarbons, telecommunications, electricity, and some mines), has vastly increased revenues for public works, infrastructure improvements, social spending, and economic benefits.

Cash transfer programs for the elderly, school children, and pregnant mothers have reduced income inequality and infant mortality, boosted school attendance and high school graduation rates. In short, Morales’ economic and redistributive policies have significantly improved the living standards of average Bolivians. But as Evo notes below, “if we made these results so far, it is through the support of all the social movements, the Bolivian people organized in social movements.”

Excerpts from Evo Morales’ Inauguration speech at Tiwanaku, January 21, 2015

We make this ceremony in this sacred place for all the indigenous peoples of the world, and non-indigenous peoples of the world. We make this ceremony to thank our male and female leaders who have given their lives for us, to thank Tupac Amaru, Micaela Bastidas, to thank Tupac Katari and Bartolina Sisa, to the Katari brothers from the north of Potosi, Nicolas Damaso and Tomas, Apiaguaiqui Tumpa of western Bolivia, to Zarate Willca, to Caupolican and Lautaro, to the leaders of the Indian peoples of North America, Geronimo, the last Apache warrior, to White Bear and Sitting Bull, to the peoples of Africa and South Africa who have suffered and suffer our same history.

Dear brothers and sisters, Tiwanaku was a great city, this millennia old city, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in year zero of our era, this city was already a sacred ceremonial center for the entire Andean territory, related scientifically and commercially with the peoples of the low lands and with those of the north and south of our continent. Our territory touched the Pacific coast, when we had a coastline, our sea, which they seek to deny us today.

Here was the technology to raise llamas in the entire Andean area, here they practiced specialized cures for health, here they practiced the arts of working the land, textiles, ceramics, metalwork. Here they studied irrigation technology, a system of roads to unite the north, south, east, west territories, social organization and governments at the different territorial levels. Here they practiced philosophy, science, technology, literature, religion and above all they practiced values of life and ethics. Sisters and brothers, here we make plans in the 21st Century as one of the de-colonized nations of the world, where Living Well is our philosophy.

Liberalism, European socialism is of no use to us in reaching this objective, history has passed them by along with the liberal colonizer republic of Bolivia. Our ancestors here in Tiwanaku did not know poverty, poverty is a product of colonialization and the social and economic development models imposed by the capitalist countries.

Therefore, we here plan our future with sumaj kamaña, with Allin Kawsay, with Vivir Bien, with Sumaj Qamaña, with knowing how to feed ourselves, knowing how to work, knowing how to dance, knowing how to govern.

To know how to communicate, how to listen, how to dream of our future, to know how to produce, how to share, how to return to the culture of respect between people, respect for the elders, respect for the children, for Mother Earth, to return to our ayllus [traditional Aymara-Quechua communal governance], all this is in agreement with our amuto, our ideology.     

I want to take advantage of this opportunity and tell you, brothers and sisters, that the best inheritance from my parents has been respect, my father and mother told me, “Evito, if you want to be respected in life, know how to respect those older and younger than you.”

We are a people with body and soul, rebellious and insurgent, we are a people who since remote times until today have been inspired with the sua spirit not to be thieves, the llulla spirit not to lie, and the kella spirit not to be lazy.

Our culture is the most valuable capital we have to reconstruct our ayllu so that the children of Pachamama can breathe happily, in clean air, and drink uncontaminated water.

Remember in 1532, when the Spaniards Pizarro and Almargo in Cuzco began to kill our wise Amauta leaders, our grandfather Atahualpa in Cajamarca and pursue gold at whatever the cost.

Our Amautas ordered that our treasures be hidden and protected, our cultural treasures, our archaeological monuments, our sacred cities. The human values, economic principles and social principles of living together, because the day had finished and the black night of suffering began.

And they said that the sun will return some day, and that day when we will retake our cultural treasures and we will again be ourselves.

Therefore we see that the archaeologists in 1920 discovered Tiwanaku, Cuzco and other places our sacred places, they continued discovering the pyramids here at Tiwanaku, but they were incapable of reading what was written here, they interpreted what they saw according to their understanding, according to their Western logic. This is part of our culture, we bring it up to the present so that we can realize and apply our policy of Vivir Bien.

Brothers and sisters when we speak of recuperating and strengthening our cultural heritage, our identity as a Plurinational state, many people think we are planning to return to the past. No, we are not planning to return to a romanticized past, but a scientific recuperation of the best of our past to combine it with modernity, but a modernity that permits us to make industries without danger to Mother Earth, with a modernity that permits us to develop with Pachamama.

So it is question of reestablishing equilibrium between human beings and Mother Earth, between men and women.

The world can no longer tolerate development in the name of modernity, the industrialized countries are overindustrialized and that has a cost to Mother Earth, Pachamama.

We are seeing the destruction of the planet, it is necessary to stop this crazy road of destruction of the planet in the name of development, if we the indigenous peoples lived like the European countries where the father has his car, the mother has her car, the son has his car, and the daughter has her car, everyone lives in their car. If we lived like that, studies show we need another planet just to park the cars.

It is not an issue of races, it is not a color problem, because it is not the color of my face that kills you, what kills you is the color of the water you drink, what kills you is the smell of the air you breathe, we are thousands of colors, but only one planet.

Therefore, sisters and brothers, let Pachamama illuminate our way, let our Apus, our Uyuviris, guide us on this road constructing a different way of life, with individual rights, with a life full of happiness, harmony, the peace of brotherhood, where no one sees politics as a business, but that politics is a service to our peoples, where politics means more sacrifice for the good of humanity.

Sisters and brothers, I take advantage of this opportunity to thank the Original People, this age-old people, to thank the social movements for organizing this age-old event so sacred for life, for humanity. And I say we have the duty to defend life, to defend life is to save the planet earth and finish with capitalism and imperialism.