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May 18 marks the official start of Bolivia's presidential campaign trail. Morales to supporters: 'Our people march united and strengthened towards victory.'
Thousands of Bolivians arrived at the Chimore airport to help incumbent presidential candidate, Evo Morales, kickoff his electoral campaign for the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party for the Oct. 20 elections.
Morales rode into the event on the back of a motorcycle driven by Vice President Garcia Linera, waving a wiphala flag.
At the Saturday ceremony the incumbent who is ahead in the polls, said to the large crowds: "Why five more years? To finish our great works. We feel strong, you give us energy to guarantee the liberation of Bolivia forever," said Morales at the airport rally.
Centenares de miles de bolivianas y bolivianos caminan unidos, junto a sus familias, hijas e hijos, compañeras y compañeros, hermanas y hermanos, rumbo a la concentración política más grande de la historia de #Bolivia. Nuestro pueblo marcha unido y fortalecido hacia la victoria. pic.twitter.com/NTfkEJaRck
Hundreds of thousands of Bolivians walk together, together with their families, daughters and sons, companions, sisters and brothers, towards the largest political concentration in the history of # Bolivia. Our people march united and strengthened towards victory.
People traveled since Friday to take part in Morales’ official campaign start. "There have been about 25,000 people arriving since the early morning” from all parts of the country, said Mayor Aurelio Rojas, to the state news agency ABI.
“The Bolivian people, the popular sectors, social movements, the organized poor of Bolivia are those who are with this government that made reforms and transformed this country and has allowed the large excluded majorities to occupy the spaces of decision making,” MAS legislator, Sonia Brito, told Prensa Latina.
Brito said these ‘popular sectors’, supporting Morales in the general elections, who will vote against opposition party neoliberalism.
"President Evo continues to have a large social base composed mainly of the great majorities of this country," Brito said, "despite attempts financed by sectors of the United States to destabilize our government," concluded the lawmaker.
The state’s Deputy Minister of Coordination with Social Movements, Alfredo Rada, told local press that May 18 marks “the beginning of the election campaign towards the October victory.” He added that the Saturday rally will include organizations such as the Coordinator of the Six Federations of Cochabamba that Morales led prior to being voted in as head of state.
Bolivian elections will allow the public to vote for the nation’s head of state and vice president, as well as the 130 house representatives and 36 senators who will serve the 2020-2025 term.
Since taking office in 2006, Morales has directed the country into record economic growth rates making Bolivia that fastest growing economy in the region. The Andean nation, that has at least 36 distinct Indigenous groups, has achieved greater social inclusion and a 50 percent poverty rate reduction under Morales who has been praised by both the United Nations and the neoliberal International Monetary Fund for these accomplishments.
On Friday, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, declared his support for Morales’ candidacy. The OAS director had at one time questioned the president's decision to re-run after 51 percent of Bolivians turned down his candidacy in a 2017 referendum.
The Constitutional Court later declared Morales could become a candidate in the current campaign, a decision upheld by the country’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) after his victory in the electoral primaries in January.
President Morales said at a Friday event with Almagro in which the head of state signed a document agreeing to OAS observers at the October polls, "I fully understand the responsibilities of international organizations and this agreement for observers at the October 20 elections is a way to make them transparent."
In February, Morales was polling with 35.6 percent, whereas the main opposition candidate and former president, Carlos Mesa, was trailing behind at 30.5 percent.