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"We are rallied here so that Bolivia is never again in a state of dependency, so that the Bolivian people will never have to beg again.”
Bolivia’s leftist president, Evo Morales, was greeted by a huge rally in the eastern city of Santa Cruz. Hundreds of thousands of people attended despite the city normally being known as a stronghold of the right wing opposition. The rally was in support of Evo Morales’s Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, and to celebrate the anniversary of the country’s land reform.
President Morales addressed the crowd on Friday, saying, "We are rallied here so that Bolivia is never again in a state of dependency. So that the Bolivian people will never have to beg again. We are here sisters and brothers, so that neoliberalism nor U.S. military bases ever return.”
The MAS also presented their list of parliamentary candidates for the Santa Cruz region. Leading the list is Adriana Salvatierra, the 29-year-old President of the Senate, tipped by many as a possible successor to Morales.
The rally itself was organized by the local labor union federation, whose general secretary Rolando Borda, stood alongside Morales on stage. The day before Borda had laid out what he believes the mobilization represents.
“It is a ratification of our consciousness, and so that the economy of the country continues to grow and that the victory of October 20th is overwhelming,” he said.
Though the focus of the rally was the upcoming elections, the country was also celebrating the “Day of the Agrarian Revolution” falling on the anniversary of the Morales’ land reform, which redistributed millions of hectares to landless campesinos.
The main beneficiaries were the CSUTCB, the largest Indigenous campesino union. Their members were also in attendance at Friday's rally, mostly Coca growers from the nearby Chapare region.
A buoyant economy has Morales well ahead of his rivals in opinion polls, however, none have indicated that a first round victory is certain. For that, Morales would need either 50 percent of the vote, or 40 percent if the second place candidate is behind by 10 points or more. Most polls have Morales just short of 40 percent, but leading his rivals by a comfortable margin of over 10.