Bolivia's Morales thanks Cuba for example

Campaign News | Tuesday, 20 December 2005

Vows to liberate Bolivia and the region

HAVANA 20 December: Bolivian President-elect socialist Evo Morales thanked Cuba for providing an example for Latin America and vowed to "liberate" Bolivia and the region.

"Thank you very much Cuba for showing Latin America and the world how to live with dignity and sovereignty," Morales said in a phone interview for a Cuban television show on his Sunday victory at the polls.

"The hour to liberate Bolivia and Latin America has arrived," Morales, a former leader of coca farmers and the country's first Indian leader, said.

Morales is an outspoken admirer of Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who together are pushing an alternative Latin American integration plan to Washington's Free Trade Zone for the Americas.

Morales, who has called his Movement Towards Socialism a "nightmare" for Washington, is also an outspoken critic of Washington's trade plans for the region.

Randy Alonso, moderator of the state-run television show which reflects the views of the government, hailed Morales' victory as an important contribution to Latin American integration and a defeat for Washington.

"Evo's election represents a severe blow to neoliberalism and its backers and a defeat for Washington's aggressive neoconservative policies in the region," Alonso said.

Morales' leading rivals conceded defeat when results tabulated by local media Sunday showed him heading for a resounding victory, taking slightly more than 50 per cent of the vote.

With 33 per cent of the official results tallied yesterday, Morales led with 48 per cent to 35 per cent for Jorge Quiroga, a conservative former president. The official count will take several days but based on media calculations Morales' vote tally is expected to remain near 50 per cent.

If Morales gets more than half of the votes in the final result, he will avoid having to face a congressional vote between the two top vote-getters as required by Bolivian law.

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