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Bolivia. « It is different from corrupt presidents who have done nothing for the poor people ».

Evo Morales owes his popularity to numerous social programs which he set up.

Translated Friday 25 December 2009, by P. K. Murthy and reviewed by Henry Crapo

La Paz, private correspondance.

Since the beginning of its first term, in January, 2006, the bulk of the action of Evo Morales was aimed at the most dispossessed populations, indigenous and peasant women, who represent the majority of the inhabitants of the country, the poorest of South America. A literacy campaign, building of health centers, setting up of a minimum wage... in less than four years, the Bolivian president has implemented a long series of social programs.

The most significant of them, are the "Bonuses", the bonos, that are targeted financial aids such as the bono Juancinto Pinto, intended to struggle against school desertion. This year, more than a million eight hundred thousand children have thus received the equivalent of 20 euros.
Mariza Mamani is mother of three daughters in the neglected suburb of El Alto: " It allows me to buy good footwear for them, a satchel, notebooks, fountain pens... It is a very important help because before many children did not have all that, and they could not study." Pregnant women too have the right to their help: the bono Juana Azurduy. " It allows the mothers to be in good health, to give birth without complications," explains Marina Torres, a woman in the home in La Paz, the capital of the country. There are prenatal check-ups which allow the pregnant women to have free care at the health centres. After delivery, they watch the health of the child until he is two years old. My own daughter benefits from this program. Every month, she goes to the bank to withdraw her 120 bolivianos (12 euros). "

Don Felix is an former miner. Since two years, he is receiving the renta dignidad, a general retirement scheme for those who are more than sixty years, the equivalent 20 euros. “This amount allows me to buy my food. Because now , I am not able to work anymore. Before elders suffered , they could not feed themselves and this was the case mainly in the countryside. Now, when they are in need of anything , they can buy them for themselves."

First indigènous president in the history of Bolivia, Evo Morales has at last given back their place to the long time neglected people. « Things have changed, assures Marina Torres, herself of aymara origin. Before there was discrimination. When people like us, poor people, who have dark skin, were dealing with the administration, they did not heed to us. But since Morales is president, we are better cared for. »

After about twenty years of successive neoliberal governments, the mandate of Evo Morales marks a new awarenes in the political conscience of many Bolivians. Evo, as they call him here, is not only a new president  : "He is like us", Don Felix is delighted; At sixty-seven years, he has seen a good number of presidents. Now it is different from former corrupt presidents, millionaires who have done nothing for the poor people. Now we exist. » According to the government, one Bolivian out of four would benefit today from bonos, which are only a part of the social measures adopted in the course of last four years. In its study on the economic perspectives of America 2009, the International Monetary Fund itself, with which Bolivie does not maintain the best relations, acknowledges the success of these programs and encourages the government to pursue them. It seems that Evo Morales will have five more years in front of him to do it.

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