TEHRAN, Dec. 25 (MNA) -- The final results are in, and Evo Morales has received a clear majority of the vote in the Bolivian presidential election. When he is inaugurated in January, he will be the first indigenous leader to take power in Bolivia in 500 years.

The struggle against 500 years of oppression at the hands of European conquistadors and settlers was a major theme of the election campaign of Morales, who is an Aymara Indian. Morales and his party, the Movement Towards Socialism, have pledged to lift the masses of Bolivia out of poverty through opposition to the neoliberal economic model advocated by the industrialized countries.  

The masses of South America are opposed to the Free Trade Area of the Americas because they know that the FTAA and other neoliberal plans for the continent will not improve their standard of living. Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have given voice to the masses’ opposition to neoliberalism and a U.S.-dominated FTAA and are advocating the establishment of a South American bloc. 

South America is definitely taking a turn to the left. The anti-globalization forces, spearheaded by Hugo Chavez, are sweeping to power in elections across the continent. Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Uruguay all have left-leaning governments, and socialist Michelle Bachelet won almost 46 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election in Chile earlier this month and now faces a run-off in January. 

Morales has said that he will nationalize the oil and natural gas industries and enforce legislation to revise the contracts with foreign multinational corporations that have actually robbed the country of its vast hydrocarbon reserves at an unacceptably low price. He also plans to rewrite the constitution in order to enshrine indigenous people’s rights in the supreme law of the land.

In addition, Morales has said he will legalize the cultivation of coca, which is the raw material for the production of cocaine. The Indians of Bolivia chew the coca leaf, which is a mild stimulant, but they do not use cocaine. In response to U.S. officials’ complaints that his plan would exacerbate the drug abuse problem in the United States, Morales said that the cocaine problem in the U.S. must be addressed by demand-side solutions not supply-side approaches, and he is right.

Most Latin American countries are mestizo majority, but Bolivia is over 50 percent pure-blood Indian, with the Quechua and the Aymara being the largest groups. Peru, Ecuador, and Guatemala are also indigenous majority.

Whereas the progressive movements in most of the other Latin American countries are leftist, the popular movement in Bolivia is leftist and indigenous, with the emphasis on the indigenous dimension.

However, respect for the rights of the indigenous people and commitment to redress the five centuries of wrongs against them are the common points of all the popular movements in Latin America.

In a strange twist of fate reminiscent of South America’s own magical realism, the leftist Christian Liberation Theology is fading and being replaced by an indigenous movement in Latin America.

In the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, “Enough is enough” is one of the slogans of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, who are also known by their Spanish acronym EZLN.

The Zapatistas, who are mostly Maya Indians, began their uprising on January 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) officially came into effect. Thus, they illustrated that it was both an indigenous and an anti-globalization uprising.

The Zapatistas are aware that they are involved in a cultural struggle.

At the Plenary of the Indigenous National Forum in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico on January 7, 1996, Subcomandante Marcos, one of the leaders of the Zapatistas, told the Story of the Rainbow, which an old Indian taught him in 1986.

“7 times 7 they will walk the 7 because that is how the number came out which reminds us that not everything comes in pairs and that there is always room for another,” is one part of the Story of the Rainbow that he recited for the plenary participants on that day.

At the end of his speech, Marcos said, “So we need only 7 times 7 to walk the 7, to say and tell ourselves that we have finished the 7 tasks that give birth to the good world, to the one that makes us new.”

The American Indians believe that history is cyclical. On October 12, 1992, the 500th anniversary of the European invasion of the Americas, Indigenous People’s Day was established to replace the hated Columbus Day, which Indians have always viewed as one of the worst symbols of their oppression. Indigenous People’s Day 1992 was observed all across North America and South America. It was the first time in history that all the indigenous peoples of the Americas had acted in harmony. At the time, many American Indians said that the symbolic act of unity was a sign of the beginning of the end of the 500-year cycle of oppression.

Yes, the indigenous movement has even reached North America, and it is set to become stronger.

Leonard Peltier of the American Indian Movement (AIM) has served nearly 30 years in prison in the U.S. for a crime he did not commit. He is accused of killing two FBI agents in 1975, but has always maintained his innocence. Many Indians say he is a political prisoner and has been imprisoned for being a member of AIM, a group which has always stood up for the rights of Native Americans, and because U.S. government officials wanted to punish an Indian for the deaths of the two FBI agents, even though they knew he was innocent.

Demonstrations are planned for February 6, 2006, which will be the 30th anniversary of his arrest. Something is likely to happen on February 6. The cycle of oppression is ending.

Perhaps Subcomandante Marcos best summed up the indigenous Intifada of the Americas in the EZLN communique of January 6, 1994, where he said: “Here we are, the dead of always, dead again, but now to live.”




News Code 14520

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