Lawyers, teachers, police officers, and taxi drivers disagree with his policies and claim he governs for the indigenous ones.
, Christian Science Monitor
Now he shakes his head. "This is not what we wanted. He is re-creating a nation with just one identity."
President Morales, an Aymara Indian and former coca-leaf grower, ushered in a new era of hope in
But the indigenous were not the only ones to rejoice. Thousands of middle-class voters, who were tired of the deep divisions in the country, reached out for a figure they likened to
Today, some of those voters are questioning their choice. While Morales remains a popular president, lawyers, teachers, police officers, and taxi drivers interviewed across the country claim he is governing for the indigenous only and say they disagree with his policies. Many are going to
"It is impossible to understand [Morales's large mandate] if you don't see what the vote of middle class was," says Gonzalo Chavez, a political analyst at
Morales has been able to bring hope to the indigenous, who make up 62 percent of the population but were often discriminated against just for speaking their native Quechua or Aymara. Now their identity and language is flourishing. They have hailed Morales's move to reclaim more revenue from its natural-gas fields, the largest in
"There is a huge sense of identity with him among the indigenous and rural," says Jim Shultz, a political analyst at The Democracy Center in
But some say it has come at the cost of alienating others. "He is just the president of some, not all of us," says Claudia Garcia, an elementary schoolteacher in
Jose Pimentel, a congressman from Morales's party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), denies that the president is excluding the middle class. The problem, he says, is that the middle- and upper-classes do not need the same level of attention or resources that the poor do. "What they need is economic stability," he says. "And Morales is providing that."
According to the government, for example, per capita income has increased by 8 percent in the past year. High prices for tin, oil, and natural gas have created a favorable macroeconomic picture. Economic growth was 4.5 percent last year.
If elections were held today, Morales would likely still win. His approval rating in February stood at 64 percent, according to the polling firm Equipos Mori. Right now, says Eduardo Gamarra, director of the Latin American and
But Mr. Chavez says that Morales's support overall has fallen by 10 percentage points from this time last year, and analysts say most of that decline comes from the middle class. Unemployment, registering around 8 percent, he says, has remained the same since Morales became president, but that is due in part to the fact that so many Bolivians are emigrating from the country, particularly to
The Spanish Embassy in
Taxi driver Richard Villca is one of those packing. He plans to leave for
First published at Christian Science Monitor