According to exit polls, the Socialist leader obtained 51,1 percent in Sunday vote, which allows him to take power without Congress approval
The virtual president-elect of Bolivia, Evo Morales, spent all day waiting for the official results of Sunday elections where, according to exit polls, obtained 51.1 percent of the vote and could therefore be declared President directly, without Congress approval. In Cochabamba, his homeland and stronghold in the center of the country, Morales repeated his promise to end a US-backed program to eradicate coca plants, saying that the crop is a very important part of the Bolivian culture.
Morales claimed the victory in the elections as praised to lead a new time in the history of the poorest country in South America. “A time of the poor, a time of those that have been excluded”, he said before a cheering crowd. Morales also pledged to respect private property, apparently seeking to reassure investors despite his plans to assert state ownership over Bolivia's vast natural gas reserves.
The leader of the Movement Toward Socialism, or MAS by its initials in Spanish, was congratulated by Venezuela's leftist President, Hugo Chavez, and the goverments of Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Later on Monday, a US State Department spokeswoman, Jan Edmondson, said in Washington that "while official results have not yet been released, we congratulate Evo Morales on his apparent victory."
During the campaign, Morales had said that he would be “a nightmare” for the United States. He has been an irritant for Washington for years while he has built close ties with Cuban President Fidel Castro and Chavez. A State Department report earlier this year referred to him as an "illegal-coca agitator."
According to observers, Morales is ready to go on with his crusade against US coca-eradication programs. "We are betting on an effective fight against narcotrafficking because neither cocaine nor drug trafficking is part of Bolivian culture," Morales said.
He also made reference what might be one of the biggest commercial secrets the lpast century. "It's not possible that the coca leaf can be legal for Coca Cola and not for us. It's hypocritical," he said, confirming that cocaine-free coca extract is part of the drink's secret recipe. Coca Cola, in Atlanta, declined to comment abouta what It has been widely reported: that cocaine-free extract derived from coca is part of the drink's secret recipe.
Morales also said a governing Movement Toward Socialism party "is not only going to respect, but is going to protect private property," although "vacant, unproductive land" would be turned over to farmers with no land or very little. He said, however, that multinational companies would be paid to help in natural gas exploration and to develop the industry.
Morales' Sunday victory is a new turn to left in South America, following the experiences of Chavez in Venezuela, Lula in Brazil, Tabare Vazquez in Uruguay and probably Michelle Bachelet in Chile, if she finally defeats the conservative coalition in the runoff scheduled for January 15.
Photo (AP): Evo Morales, waits for final results in Cochabamba
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