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Interviews with Voters in the Bolivian Streets and at the Polls

On October 12, Bolivia went to the polls for a general election which is expected to grant victories to President Evo Morales and many other politicians in his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) political party. (Update: Evo Morales has declared victory for a third term in office.) Below is a collection of interviews conducted today with voters from middle and working class neighborhoods in La Paz, Bolivia on how they voted and what they think of the MAS government. For more information on the election, its implications, and the successes and pitfalls of the MAS, see this article: Why Evo Morales Will Likely Win Upcoming Elections in Bolivia.

“I hope that Evo stays in power for many years because he’s done so much for the people. I support the way Evo governs. He’s done a lot for our country.  No other president has accomplished what Evo has accomplished. I am very happy that he’s our president because now there are more highways, we have our aerial cable car in La Paz and the indigenous universities. The majority of the poor people support him. He’s the only president that has remembered the poor people in Bolivia.” – Yolanda Wachari, street vendor

“The government of Evo Morales, which is a government that has done positive things, has also done negative things. For example, one of the positive things is the funds they have reserved in the government. Some other positive aspects are the public works the MAS has constructed, for example here in La Paz the aerial cable car, and a new two-lane highway to the city of Oruro. And in regards to the negative aspects, nationally and generally, is the level of political persecution against the opposition to the government. The other negative thing is the MAS’s focus on the rural social movements in the country, without focusing sufficiently on the middle class in the cities; this government has not helped the middle class at all.” – Ivan Villafuerte, lawyer

“President Evo does good work. He has created good public projects, and provided computers for school children. Evo does good work, and he’s not robbing everything like other presidents we’ve had in the past. This government provides support for children, pregnant women and the elderly. And for these reasons I voted for him this morning.” – Angelica Calle, street vendor

“I voted for President Evo because I am convinced that he is an excellent president. I’ve read through the history of my country many times, and I’ve seen that he is the best president in terms of the economy, education, development and other issues. With the previous governments the only thing they ever did was loot the country, and only look after their own personal interests. This isn’t the case with this government. This government is in function of the people, it is dedicated to creating an inclusive country, one without discrimination. Because here racism was very strong, and this racism is a legacy of colonialism, but now things have changed.” – Maria Isabel Viscarra, language teacher

“I don’t particularly support the MAS government. I don’t share many of the ideas of the current government because of many things they’ve done in the past, but lamentably they continue in power. For example, before the government eradicated more coca, but since the cocaleros are supporters of Evo, he’s valued them more, with more benefits to this sector than to others.” – Fernando, worker

“I believe that we need to continue with this government, because this process, this change, needs time for there to be real results. I support the continuation of this government to truly see, in five or ten years, the results that this government wants to achieve.” – Jorge Quispe Bustillos, music teacher

“I’ve made the decision to vote for the current government, for President Evo Morales, because I’ve seen that things are changing in the country. In the past, with other governments, there was a lot of corruption, and I’m not seeing a lot of that now. So I’m voting for Evo, and I hope to see even more changes in the country.” – Henrique Apu, construction worker

“I support the MAS government because this government has helped to create jobs. Also, here in Bolivia there are many single mothers, and I support the fact that the government helps single mothers. And this is why I am going to vote for the MAS.”  – Yola Carona Quispe Alejo, street vendor, mother of two children

Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America, covering social movements and politics in the region for over a decade. He is the author of the books Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, and The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia. Dangl is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American History at McGill University, and edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Twitter: https://twitter.com/bendangl 

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Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America, covering social movements and politics in the region for over a decade. He is the author of the books Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, and The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia. Dangl is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American History at McGill University, and edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Twitter: https://twitter.com/bendangl Email: BenDangl(at)gmail(dot)com

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