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  • Morales dancing a traditional dance.

    Morales dancing a traditional dance. | Photo: ABI https://www1.abi.bo/abi_/

Published 18 April 2019

An increasing number of European political parties are taking a greater interest in Bolivia, ever since the Andean country officially renounced neoliberal policies

On Thursday, 19 lawmakers in the European parliament wrote a letter to Bolivia’s leftist President Evo Morales, in praise of the country’s progress on development and social equality. The signatories include those from Europe’s most prominent leftist parties, such as Spain's Podemos, France Insoumise and Germany's Die Linke.

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The letter expressed support for Evo Morales in Bolivia’s upcoming general elections, saying “We would like to wish you the best of luck for your candidacy to the Presidency and for the Congressional and Senate candidates of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) [Morales’ party of government].” The letter went on to praise Bolivia’s economic development, which they note is achieved by “... a better redistribution of wealth, a relevant role for the state, and a sustained economic growth above other countries in the region.” The signatories also praised the advances made in LGBT rights, in reference to Bolivia’s 2016 identity law that allows trans citizens to easily change their documents to match their gender.

Evo Morales thanked the signatories on Twitter soon after, saying “We thank the Members of the European Parliament that praise Bolivia's achievements in poverty reduction and economic growth. We have accomplished so much and work relentlessly to improve the living conditions of our people with unity, dignity and identity.” He went on to say, “We praise the EU cooperation that, unlike the conditional assistance of some states, has allowed Bolivia to reach important accomplishments in the fight against poverty and drug trafficking. It's a joint effort with full respect for the sovereignty and dignity of our countries.”

An increasing number of European political parties are taking a greater interest in Bolivia ever since the Andean country officially renounced neoliberal policies and began achieving the highest rates of economic growth in the region. In February last year, former Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero hosted a conference to discuss Bolivia’s achievements in economic growth and poverty reduction. The event was held together with Podemos and the Communist Party of Spain.

Morales’ period in office has been marked by significant reductions in poverty. Between 2006-2017, extreme poverty fell from 40% to 17% and the country’s GDP has more than tripled during Morales’ 13 years in office. The government argues that this growth is due to the nationalization of the country’s natural resources.

Morales faces a presidential election on Oct. 20 this year, with most polls putting him well ahead of right-wing rival Carlos Mesa; however, none indicate that he will win in the first round.

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