by Raul Burbano and Sara Korosi
Santa Cruz, Bolivia - Evo Morales and the MAS have scored another major blow to the right-wing opposition in Bolivia this Sunday, by winning the country's Presidential elections with 63% of the vote nationally. This secures Evo and the MAS another term in power, making him the most popular president in the history of Bolivia. Even if the opposition united they would only have 34% of the vote nationally. His closest rival, Manfred Ryes Villa obtained only 28% of the vote nationally and the next closest opponent, Samuel Doria Medina obtained only 6%.
Although his victory did not come as a surprise to many in Bolivia, the depth of his victory nationally is very impressive. Evo and the MAS managed to win a two-third-majority in the bicamral Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia that will take power in January 2010. In addition, the MAS won a majority in the senate with 25 senate seats allowing the MAS to accelerate their reforms. The MAS won 5 of the 7 seats designated for Indigenous and campesinos. These seats were created by the new constitution and are specially set aside for the Indigenous people in the Legislative Assembly, who have traditionally been marginalized from the political process.
For the first time Bolivians living abroad in Brazil, Argentina, U.S and Spain were allowed to vote in the elections. Here again we saw a majority support for Evo with a combined 69% of Bolivians abroad voting in favour of the MAS.
In Santa Cruz, the heart of Evo opposition, the MAS managed to win 43% of the vote while his main rival, Manfred Ryes Ville won 50% of the vote. Interestingly, even in the eastern lowlands, the MAS has gained support for their radical changes. The MAS won a majority in 6 of the 9 provinces, including and most surprisingly, in Tarija, which was previously one of the seats of opposition.
Another major victory for Evo and the MAS is that all 12 indigenous communities voting overwhelmingly yes for autonomy.
From the Presidential palace, Evo made clear that this victory was not only a victory for Bolivians but also a victory for presidents, governments and communities that are anti imperialist. In addition he made a call for unity to those in opposition to join him in the process of change.
Our Toronto Bolivia Solidarity delegation stood in the rain here in Santa Cruz, surrounded by MAS supporters celebrating their victory. One of the many students celebrating turned to us and explained why he had gone from being a member of the right wing, Juventude Cruzenista to being a MAS supporter. "I used to be a member of the jueventude cruzenista but after all the violence and destruction of the public institutions, I realized we were being used by the local authorities. Today myself and many of the youth that are here tonight support Evo Morales and the MAS."
It is clear that the future of Santa Cruz will no longer be determined by a small minority. Across the horizon we see that the process of decolonization has grown stronger across the country. Beyond the borders of Bolivia, this movement of social transformation continues to inspire the world.